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Jones v. City of Lawrenceburg

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, New Albany Division

July 31, 2018

FREDERICK JONES, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF LAWRENCEBURG, MAYOR DENNIS CARR, FORMER COUNCIL AT LARGE MEMBER DOUG TAYLOR, COUNCIL MEMBER JANE POPE, COUNCIL MEMBER AARONCOOK, COUNCIL MEMBER BILL BRUNNER, and COUNCIL MEMBER MIKE LAWRENCE, Defendants.

          ENTRY ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO DENY SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          RICHARD L. YOUNG, JUDGE

         This matter arises from the August 20, 2012 decision by the City of Lawrenceburg, acting through its Common Council, to table the grant of a private entity loan to Plaintiff, Frederick Jones, to finance a real estate development plan for the City. The pro se Plaintiff, an African American, alleges that the Defendants' decision violated his rights under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and Article 1, Section 23 of the Indiana Constitution. He also alleges a claim for promissory estoppel under Indiana law. The Defendants, City of Lawrenceburg, Mayor Dennis Carr, former council member Doug Taylor, and current council members Jane Pope, Aaron Cook, Bill Brunner, and Mike Lawrence, now move for summary judgment, and Plaintiff moves the court to deny Defendants' motion. The court, having read and reviewed the parties' submissions, the designated evidence, and the applicable law, now GRANTS Defendants' motion, and DENIES Plaintiff's motion.

         I. Background

         By resolution in 2005, the City of Lawrenceburg established a Public Improvement Economic Development Fund (“PIEDF”) and the Lawrenceburg Economic Development Fund (“LEDF”). (Filing No. 58-10, Affidavit of Aaron Cook (“Cook Aff.”) ¶ 3). As their names suggest, both funds were created to stimulate economic growth in Dearborn County. (Cook Aff., Ex. 1-A, 1-B). To address loan requests, the City created a Loan Committee which determined whether or not to grant the requests. (Cook Aff. ¶ 3).

         In September 2009, the Loan Committee decided that due to the current economic situation, it would be in the City's best interest to suspend the loan program. (Id. ¶ 6). It made a motion at the next Common Council meeting to suspend the loan program until further notice, and it passed. (Id.). No. further private entity loans were given from September 2009 through 2012. (Id. ¶ 7). The loans that were in existence at that time continued to be serviced and repaid, but no new loans issued. (Id.).

         On August 6, 2012, Plaintiff presented his business plan at a Lawrenceburg Common Council meeting and requested that his business receive a $500, 000 private entity loan from the City of Lawrenceburg to turn rental properties into owned homes. (Id. ¶ 8; Filing No. 58-10, Ex. 1-G, Minutes of the Aug. 6, 2012 Common Council Meeting; Filing No. 59, Ex. 1-H, Video of August 6, 2012 Common Council Meeting beginning at 1:28). After a short discussion, Pope made a motion to move forward with funding the Jones Properties as a private entity loan. (Cook Aff. ¶ 8; Exs. 1-G, 1-H). Pope, Lawrence, and Taylor voted in favor of the motion; Brunner and Cook voted against the motion; Mayor Carr did not vote. (Cook Aff. ¶ 8; Exs. 1-G, 1-H).

         On August 20, 2012, the matter came back before the Lawrenceburg Common Council. (Cook Aff. ¶ 9; Filing No. 58-10, Ex. 1-I, Minutes of the August 20, 2012 Common Council Meeting; Filing No. 59, Ex. 1-J, Video of the August 20, 2012 Common Council Meeting beginning at 1:28). During the meeting, there was confusion as to whether the Common Council needed to establish a new Loan Committee or whether they needed an ordinance to make the Loan Committee legal. (Cook Aff. ¶¶ 9, 10; Ex. 1-J). After a recess was called to allow Pope to speak with her attorney, Pope officially moved to stay further action on the Jones' Properties' project until the Loan Committee was legally able to extend loans. (Cook Aff. ¶ 10; Exs. 1-I, 1-J). The motion passed 3-2, with Pope, Lawrence and Taylor voting in favor and Brunner and Cook voting against. (Exs. 1-I, 1-J).

         This lawsuit followed.

         II. Summary Judgment Standard

         Summary judgment is appropriate where “the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A genuine issue of material fact exists if there is sufficient evidence from which a reasonable juror could return a verdict in favor of the non-moving party. Brown v. Advocate S. Suburban Hosp., 700 F.3d 1101, 1104 (7th Cir. 2012). In evaluating a motion for summary judgment, the court views the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Hottenroth v. Village of Slinger, 388 F.3d 1015, 1027 (7th Cir. 2004).

         III. Plaintiff's Motion to Deny Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment

         Plaintiff moves the court to deny Defendants' motion for summary judgment because there are facts in dispute and the matter is not ripe for summary adjudication. With respect to his first contention, “the existence of a factual dispute will not preclude summary judgment when the dispute does not involve a material fact.” Burton v. Downey, 805 F.3d 776, 783 (7th Cir. 2015). Here, Plaintiff fails to point to any facts, much less material facts, which are in dispute. With respect to his second contention, based on his Response to Defendants' motion for summary judgment, the court assumes he is referring to discovery which he alleges he has not received from Defendants. The record belies Plaintiff's contention. (See Filing No. 48, Order on June 14, 2017, Telephonic Conference (“Given that Defendants has [sic] responded to Plaintiff's discovery requests, Plaintiff's motion to compel [Filing No. 43] is denied.”); Filing No. 67, Marginal Entry denying Plaintiff's Motion for Extension of Time for Discovery because Defendants complied with discovery and the motion was made beyond the deadlines set forth in the court's scheduling order)). For these reasons, Plaintiff's Motion to Deny Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment is DENIED.

         IV. Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment

         A. ...


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