Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Daniels v. City of Fort Wayne Plan Commission

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division

January 16, 2018

WILLIAM DANIELS and JUDY DANIELS, Plaintiffs,
v.
THE CITY OF FORT WAYNE PLAN COMMISSION, whose MEMBERS are CONNIE HAAS ZUBER, DON SCHMIDT, TOM FREISTROFFER, PAUL SAUERTEIG, JUSTIN SHURLEY, MIKE BYNUM, SHAN GUNAWARDENA, BILLY DAVENPORT, and JUDI WIRE, and LST, LLC, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          THERESA L. SPRINGMANN CHIEF JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on a Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment [ECF No. 35] filed by Defendant LST, LLC (LST) on November 15, 2017.[1] Plaintiffs William and Judy Daniels have not responded as of the date of this Opinion and Order.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         The factual background is provided through the pleadings, relevant motions, and attached exhibits. The Plaintiffs own a residential property within a subdivision known as Broadmoor Addition located at 1735 Broadmoor Avenue in Fort Wayne, Indiana. (Compl. ¶ 1, ECF No. 1.) There are approximately seventy-nine lots in Broadmoor Addition, and all are subject to certain restrictive covenants. (Id.) The Plaintiffs own lot number 58. (Id. at ¶ 7.)

         Defendant Fort Wayne Plan Commission (FWPC) is an advisory plan commission under the Indiana Advisory Planning Law. (Answer ¶ 3, ECF No. 14.) Defendant LST owns lots 3, 4, and 5 in Broadmoor Addition, and petitioned the FWPC to vacate the restrictive covenants contained on the three lots in February 2017. (Id. at ¶¶ 11, 12.) The Plaintiffs allege that LST also requested that FWPC approve a development plan for a shopping center on lots 3, 4, and 5 within Broadmoor Addition, which FWPC denies. (Compl. ¶ 13; Answer ¶ 13.) FWPC scheduled a public hearing on LST's requests for March 13, 2017. (Answer ¶ 14.)

         According to the Plaintiffs, numerous residents of Broadmoor Addition objected to these requests at the March 13, 2017, public hearing. (Compl. ¶ 15.) Counsel for the Plaintiffs warned FWPC that vacating the restrictive covenants on lots 3, 4, and 5 would (1) constitute an unconstitutional taking of private property for a private use, and (2) was also a taking without just compensation. (Id.) On March 20, 2017, the FWPC made a final zoning decision and entered findings of fact approving a vacation of the platted lots and of the covenants on the lots. (Answer ¶ 16.)

         On April 18, 2017, the Plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against LST and FWPC in this Court [ECF No. 1] (Federal Action). In the Federal Action, the Plaintiffs alleged that the Defendants violated their federal constitutional rights and sought declaratory and injunctive relief relating to the FWPC's decision to vacate the restrictive covenants on lots 3, 4, and 5 in Broadmoor Addition. (Compl. at 6.) The Plaintiffs also filed a parallel action that same day in the Allen Circuit Court (State Court Action). (ECF No. 18, Ex. A.) In the State Court Action, the Plaintiffs challenged the legality of the zoning decision made by FWPC and, in the alternative, sought compensation through the Indiana eminent domain statute. (Id.) The State Court Action did not include a federal claim. (See id.)

         On November 3, 2017, this Court issued an Opinion and Order [ECF No. 33] (Original Opinion and Order) and dismissed the Federal Action without prejudice under the ripeness doctrine articulated in Williamson County Regional Planning Commission v. Hamilton Bank of Johnson City, 473 U.S. 172 (1985). While the Opinion was docketed and waiting to issue, LST filed a Motion to Withdraw its Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction and File Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim Upon Which Relief Can Be Granted [ECF No. 28]. LST also filed a Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim [ECF No. 29] and an accompanying memorandum [ECF No. 30]. On that same day, and again before the Court issued its Original Opinion and Order, the FWPC filed a Motion to Withdraw [ECF No. 31] its earlier Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, and filed a Notice of Joinder [ECF No. 32] joining, adopting, and incorporating LST's Motion to Dismiss and accompanying memorandum.

         The Defendants asserted the following facts in the filings and attached exhibits. On September 21, 2017, the Allen Circuit Court entered its Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Order in the State Court Action. (ECF No. 28, Ex. 1.) The Allen Circuit Court dismissed the Plaintiffs' State Court Action with prejudice. (Id.) The Plaintiffs did not file a Notice of Appeal in the Allen Circuit Court within the permitted time period, see Ind.App. Rule 9, which conclusively terminated the State Court Action.

         After the Court issued its Original Opinion and Order on the same day the Defendants sought to withdraw its prior motions and present new ones, LST filed a Motion to Amend/Correct Clerk's Judgment [ECF No. 35]. This Motion reiterated the arguments in LST's Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim, asked the Court to give preclusive effect to the findings and judgment by the Allen Circuit Court which were previously not available to the Court, and dismiss the Federal Action with prejudice.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A party may, by motion, request a district court to alter or amend a judgment within 28 days after the entry of judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e). The district court may alter or amend the judgment if the movant presents newly discovered evidence or points to evidence in the record that clearly establishes a manifest error of law or fact. Cincinnati Life Ins. Co. v. Beyrer, 722 F.3d 939, 954 (7th Cir. 2013). The decision to amend or alter judgment is within the sound discretion of the district court. See id.

         ANALYSIS

         The Defendants' argument is straightforward: the Allen Circuit Court dismissed the Plaintiffs' State Court Action with prejudice, the Plaintiffs did not appeal the adverse judgment, and the adverse judgment should have a preclusive effect on the instant case. See 28 U.S.C. ยง 1738. The Court did not have an opportunity to examine the findings and judgment of the Allen Circuit Court before it issued its Original ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.