Circuit Court LC No. 14-000104-CZ
Before: Murray, C.J., and Sawyer and Redford, JJ.
consolidated appeals originated in a claim that defendants
violated the Open Meetings Act (OMA), MCL 15.261 et
seq., or otherwise wrongfully interfered with the rights
of plaintiffs, John and Pauline Holeton, to participate in
meetings held by Livonia's city council. In Docket No.
341624, defendant Maureen Miller Brosnan appeals by right the
trial court's order denying her motion for summary
disposition of the Holetons' claim under 42 USC 1983,
premised in part on her assertion of governmental immunity.
In Docket No. 341847, defendants City of Livonia, City of
Livonia City Council, City of Livonia City Council's
Infrastructure Community Transit Committee (the
Infrastructure Committee), Laura M. Toy, Maureen Miller
Brosnan, John R. Pastor, Brandon M. Kritzman, James C.
McCann, Joe Laura, Thomas A. Robinson, and an unknown police
officer, appeal by leave granted the trial court's order
denying in part their motion for summary disposition of the
same claim. For the reasons more fully explained below, we
reverse the trial court's decision to deny
defendants' motions to dismiss the Holetons' claim
under 42 USC 1983.
individual defendants, other than the unknown police officer,
were, or are, members of Livonia City Council. The Holetons
are self-styled "community activists" who want to
raise public awareness about the harms associated with DTE
Energy's advanced metering infrastructure-otherwise known
as "smart meters"-and do so in part by attending
local governmental meetings, such as those held by the City
Council. The Holetons sued defendants in January 2014 for
violating the OMA. The case reached this Court, then our
Supreme Court, and was eventually remanded for further
proceedings. See Holeton v Livonia, unpublished per
curiam opinion of the Court of Appeals, issued August 2, 2016
(Docket No. 321501).
August 2017, the Holetons filed an amended complaint that
stated additional claims, including a claim that Brosnan
violated their rights guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth
Amendments to the Constitution of the United States when she
expelled Pauline from a meeting of the Infrastructure
Committee held in March 2012. Brosnan ostensibly ordered
Pauline to leave for violating an address-the-chair rule.
Defendants each moved for summary disposition of the
Holetons' claims in September 2017. Although the trial
court dismissed many of the Holetons' claims, it allowed
the Holetons' claims under 42 USC 1983 to proceed against
Brosnan and the City Council.
BROSNAN'S APPEAL IN DOCKET NO. 341624
appeal, Brosnan argues that the trial court erred when it
denied her motion to dismiss the Holetons' claims under
42 USC 1983. Specifically, she argues that the trial court
should have granted her motion because the Holetons failed to
identify a federal constitutional or statutory right that she
violated. In the alternative, she maintains that the Holetons
failed to overcome her qualified immunity.
Court reviews de novo a trial court's decision on a
motion for summary disposition. Barnard Mfg Co, Inc v
Gates Performance Engineering, Inc, 285 Mich.App. 362,
369; 775 N.W.2d 618 (2009). This Court also reviews de novo
whether Brosnan had qualified immunity for her actions. See
Morden v Grand Traverse Co, 275 Mich.App. 325, 340;
738 N.W.2d 278 (2007).
provided a cause of action for persons who have been deprived
of their rights by persons acting under color of state law:
Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance,
regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or
the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be
subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person
within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any
rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution
and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action
at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for
redress . . . . [42 USC 1983.]
order to establish a claim under 42 USC 1983, the plaintiff
must plead and be able to prove that the defendant deprived
him or her of a right secured by the Constitution of the
United States or the laws of the United States and that the
defendant was acting under color of state law when ...