United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
Honorable Laurie J. Michelson
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR
JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS
J. MICHELSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
B, Inc. operated a medical-marijuana facility in Inkster,
Michigan. Initially, the corporation had only one owner. But
a few years into the operation, Suite B added new
shareholders, including George Brikho. Soon after Brikho came
on board, the City of Inkster denied Suite B a license to
continue operating. Now Brikho sues Inkster, raising a host
of state and federal claims. Inkster moves for judgment on
the pleadings, arguing, essentially, that Brikho lacks
standing to sue over Suite B, Inc.'s injuries. For the
reasons that follow, the motion is granted.
2016, Suite B obtained a license to operate a
medical-marijuana dispensary in Inkster, Michigan. (ECF No.
1, PageID.6.) Soon after, Suite B opened its doors.
(Id.) At the time, Suite B was wholly owned by
Patrick Wimberly, a former member of Inkster's city
council. (Id.) To help with the licensing process,
Wimberly and Suite B retained the services of Byron Nolen,
then an attorney, but soon to be Inkster's mayor.
B's license to operate was renewed in 2017. (ECF No. 1,
early 2018, Suite B, Inc. added three new shareholders:
Farida Holdings, LLC, George Brikho, and Frank Cimeot.
(Id. at PageID.7.) Of the three, Brikho invested a
substantial sum into Suite B and its real property (i.e., the
April 2018, Suite B applied for the yearly renewal of its
license. (ECF No. 1, PageID.7.) But a month later, Inkster
denied Suite B's renewal application. (Id.) In
denying the application, Inkster officials noted that
Wimberly had at least one prior conviction (dating from the
1990s). (Id. at PageID.7.) Shortly after, Suite B
closed its doors and laid off 20 employees. (Id.)
interim, Suite B appealed. Suite B directed its appeal to its
former lawyer, Byron Nolen, by this time Inkster's mayor.
(ECF No. 1, PageID.8.) And just days after Inkster denied
Suite B's application, Mayor Nolen conducted an appeal
hearing. (Id.) Mayor Nolen presided, and in
attendance were Charles Nolen, a relative of and special
advisor to Mayor Nolen (id. at PageID.4), Felicia
Rutledge (Inkster's city clerk), and all of Suite B's
to the complaint, three notable things happened at the
hearing. For one, Charles Nolen falsely alleged that Brikho
had a criminal history. (ECF No. 1, PageID.8.) And Charles
Nolen alleged that one of Suite B's partners had
previously sued Inkster. (Id.) Finally, Mayor Nolen
told Suite B's shareholders that Inkster had an
unofficial policy of excluding non-residents from owning
medical-marijuana dispensaries. (Id.)
alleges Mayor Nolen's comment about non-residents was
significant. At the time, Brikho, a Chaldean Arab, lived in
Oakland County. (ECF No. 1, PageID.4.) But Inkster is in
Wayne County. (Id.) Brikho further alleges that
around the time of Suite B's renewal application and
appeal, Mayor Nolen was making it known he did not want Arabs
in his city and did not want Arabs profiting off sales of
marijuana to Inkster residents. (Id. at PageID.8-9.)
Nolen took the appeal under advisement. (ECF No. 1,
the same time, Charles Nolen reached out to Wimberly and
Cimeot. (ECF No. 1, PageID.9.) Charles Nolen said Suite B
could reopen if Brikho's shares were transferred to an
African-American woman connected to Mayor Nolen.
(Id.) And Charles Nolen made clear that unless and
until Brikho was removed as a shareholder, Suite B would not
reopen. (Id.) Even more, Mayor Nolen told Wimberly
that Brikho was a member of the Chaldean mafia, a group not
welcome in Inkster. (Id. at PageID.9.)
would not sell his shares. (ECF No. 1, PageID.9.) So, says
Brikho, Mayor Nolen denied Suite B's appeal, and about a
week later Suite B appealed to Inkster's city council.
(Id.) In July 2018, the City Council, with Mayor
Nolen presiding, heard the appeal and denied it.
(Id. at PageID.10.)
B's dispensary closed down shortly after.
alleges two distinct motivations drove Mayor Nolen to refuse
to renew Suite B's license. The first was prejudice.
Brikho alleges Mayor Nolen dislikes Arabs, especially
Chaldean Arabs. (ECF No. 1, PageID.9.) And the second
motivation was financial. Charles Nolen communicated that
Suite B could stay open so long as an individual connected to
Mayor Nolen was given a slice of Suite B. (Id. at
PageID.8.) And Suite B's closure left only two medical
marijuana dispensaries in Inkster, each with a financial
connection to Mayor Nolen. (Id. at PageID.10.) So
for those ...