United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION & ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO
ALTER OR AMEND JUDGMENT
F. Cox United States District Court Judge
undersigned inherited this case, which was filed back in
2004, after the Honorable Gerald Rosen retired. The case
involves protracted state-court litigation between Plaintiff
David Kircher, a property owner in Ypsilanti, Michigan, and
the City of Ypsilanti and several of its officials. Judge
Rosen stayed the case, under the Younger abstention
doctrine, while the state-court litigation between these
parties proceeded. After that finally ended, the stay in this
case was lifted.
then hired new counsel, who sought leave to file an amended
complaint in order to assert constitutional claims.
Defendants opposed that motion and filed a Motion to Dismiss.
This Court issued an Opinion & Order, denying leave to
file an amended complaint and granting Defendant's Motion
to Dismiss. The Court concluded that the constitutional
claims that Kircher seeks to raise in this action are barred
under the applicable preclusion doctrines. The Court also
rejected Kircher's arguments that he can avoid preclusion
because he filed an “England reservation of
rights” in each of the state-court cases.
matter is now before the Court on Kircher's “Rule
59(e) Motion to Alter Or Amend The Judgment.” The
parties have briefed the issues and the Court concludes that
oral argument is not necessary. For the reasons that follow,
the Court shall DENY the motion.
case involves protracted state-court litigation between
Plaintiff Kircher, a property owner in Ypsilanti, Michigan,
and the City of Ypsilanti and several of its officials.
Kircher also sued two state-court judges, but they were
dismissed early in the case based on judicial immunity.
through counsel, Kircher filed this action on July 1, 2004.
(ECF No. 1). Kircher's complaint alleged that in
2000 Kircher rejected an offer to sell his property in
Ypsilanti and that “[f]rom that time on, the
Ypsilanti Defendants, under color of law, have been striving
to transfer Plaintiff Kircher's property” to
others “without due process of law.”
(Id. at PageID.14) (emphasis added).
time this federal action was filed, there was already
state-court litigation between the parties, concerning
several properties owned by Kircher, that was proceeding in
state court. That state-court litigation began in 2001 and
October of 2016, Judge Rosen issued an “Order Staying
Case In Favor Of Parallel State Court Proceedings”
(see ECF Nos. 37 & 38) wherein he ordered
“that all proceedings in this case are STAYED until
such time as the related state court actions have fully
concluded, including any appeals that are pending or that the
parties might elect to pursue.” (Id.). Judge
Rosen remanded the matter to state court under the
Younger abstention doctrine. Judge Rosen expressly
cautioned Kircher and his Counsel that the constitutional
claims Kircher seeks to assert in this action would very
likely be barred by res judicata and/or collateral estoppel
if Kircher were to attempt to return to federal court after
the conclusion of the state-court litigation:
The Court cautions Plaintiff . . . that it will carefully
review Plaintiff's submissions to the Court following the
conclusion of the state court proceedings . . . As a general
matter, this Court does not view a § 1983 due process
claim as an appropriate vehicle for a federal court to engage
in “second-guessing' review of a complete and
thorough course of state court proceedings, including
appeals, to ensure that all of the various rulings along the
way comported with the federal constitution. On more than one
occasion, the Supreme Court has “emphatic[ally]
reaffirm[ed] . . . the constitutional obligation of the state
courts to uphold federal law, and its . . . confidence in
their ability to do so.” Allen, 449 U.S. at
105, 101 S.Ct. at 420 . . . In addition, this Court has
already noted that the doctrine of issue preclusion, see
Allen, 449 U.S. at 105, 101 S.Ct. at 420, and claim
preclusion, see Migra v. Warren City School District
Board of Education, 465 U.S. 75, 85, 104 S.Ct. 892, 898
(1984), will be fully applicable in this case upon the
conclusion of the state court proceedings. In light of the
extensive overlap between the issue litigated in state court
and the allegations in Plaintiff's federal complaint, it
appears likely that the state court proceedings will have a
considerable preclusive effect upon any further proceedings
in this Court.
(ECF No. 38 at PageID 934).
ten years later, Kircher filed a motion seeking to end the
stay. Defendants agreed that the stay should be lifted and
the Court lifted it.
Kircher obtained new counsel and filed a motion seeking leave
to file an amended complaint.
filed a Motion to Dismiss arguing, among other things, that
the constitutional claims Kircher wished to raise now are
barred by res judicata and/or collateral estoppel.
motions were fully briefed by the parties and the Court heard
oral argument on the motion. During oral argument on the
motion, this Court directly asked Kircher's Counsel if
Kircher had asserted any counterclaims in the state-court
litigation and counsel responded as follows:
THE COURT: Did Mr. Kircher assert a counterclaim during the
state court litigation.
MS. OKASINKI: Not that I am aware of, Your Honor.
THE COURT: And did he assert a due process counterclaim
during the state court litigation?
MS. OKASINSKI: Not that I'm aware of.
(4/12/18 Hrg. Tr. at 5) (emphasis ...