751 Fed.Appx. 772 (6th Cir. 2018), 17-1386, Hill v. City of Jackson, Michigan

Docket Nº:17-1386
Citation:751 Fed.Appx. 772
Opinion Judge:JULIA SMITH GIBBONS, Circuit Judge.
Party Name:Terrence HILL, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. CITY OF JACKSON, MICHIGAN; Jackson County, Michigan, Defendants-Appellees.
Attorney:John H. DeYampert, Jr., Deyampert Law Company, Westland, MI, for Plaintiff-Appellant Richard V. Stokan, Jr., Attorney, Julie McCann O’Connor, O’Connor, DeGrazia, Tamm & O’Connor, Bloomfield Hills, MI, for Defendant-Appellee City of Jackson Andrew James Brege, Johnson, Rosati, Schultz & Joppich, L...
Judge Panel:BEFORE: GIBBONS, WHITE, and STRANCH, Circuit Judges. HELENE N. WHITE, Circuit Judge, concurring in part and dissenting in part.
Case Date:October 22, 2018
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

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751 Fed.Appx. 772 (6th Cir. 2018)

Terrence HILL, Plaintiff-Appellant,


CITY OF JACKSON, MICHIGAN; Jackson County, Michigan, Defendants-Appellees.

No. 17-1386

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

October 22, 2018


Editorial Note:

Please Refer Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure Rule 32.1. See also U.S.Ct. of App. 6th Cir. Rule 32.1.

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John H. DeYampert, Jr., Deyampert Law Company, Westland, MI, for Plaintiff-Appellant

Richard V. Stokan, Jr., Attorney, Julie McCann O’Connor, O’Connor, DeGrazia, Tamm & O’Connor, Bloomfield Hills, MI, for Defendant-Appellee City of Jackson

Andrew James Brege, Johnson, Rosati, Schultz & Joppich, Lansing, MI, Marcelyn A. Stepanski, Johnson, Rosati, Schultz & Joppich, Farmington Hills, MI, for Defendant-Appellee Jackson County




This appeal concerns the demolition of a home at 1010 Maple Avenue in Jackson, Michigan, as a part of the efforts of the City and County of Jackson to remove blight. Terrence Hill purchased 1010 Maple Avenue via quitclaim deed at a public auction held by the County, but he did not receive the required seller’s notice that the property was condemned. The City then demolished the home subject to an existing demolition order that had been issued while the County was the property owner. Hill argues that this unnoticed demolition was without due process of law and violated his equal protection rights. We conclude that the district court correctly held for the City and the County on Hill’s claims.


The City of Jackson, Michigan, (the "City"), contains many dilapidated and abandoned homes and has adopted programs to deal with such dangerous and unsafe buildings. Under Chapter 17 of the City Code, City inspectors investigate the dwellings, and if a home is found to be dangerous, inspectors will condemn it, and the City may order it demolished. Jackson

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City Code § 17-27(b) (stating that if a property is found to be a dangerous building, then the City Code requires that "the division [ ] commence proceedings to cause its repair, rehabilitation, or demolition"). The County of Jackson (the "County") is often the owner of such condemned buildings, as the County forecloses on and takes possession of blighted properties on which an owner has failed to pay taxes. The County periodically holds public tax foreclosure sales of these properties, including of properties with condemned structures. Mich. Comp. Laws § 211.78m(2). Section 17-27(l) of the Jackson City Code1 requires that an owner of a condemned property inform any purchaser of the property’s condemned status prior to sale and that the purchaser sign a notarized statement acknowledging the receipt of this notice and accepting responsibility for the property’s condition.2 Jackson City Code § 17-27(l).

In April 2011, the County became the owner of 1010 Maple Avenue (the "Property") through tax foreclosure. In January 2012, building inspectors for the City found that the dwelling on the Property was a "[d]angerous [b]uilding or [s]tructure" as defined by the Jackson City Code. DE 26-3, Dangerous Bldg. Rep., Page ID 366-67; Jackson City Code § 17-27(b). In accordance with City Code procedures, the City then issued a "Notice and Order" of this condemnation to the owner of the Property— the Jackson County Treasurer— and posted this Notice on the Property. Jackson City Code § 17-27(c)-(d). The Notice and Order alerted the County that the structure was deemed "Dangerous and Unsafe," informed the County of its ability to attend a "hearing before the Building Code Board of Examiners and Appeal [to] show cause why this Notice and Order should not be upheld," and advised the County of its legal disclosure obligations. DE 26-5, Not. & Order, Page ID 369-70. Specifically, the Notice and Order instructed the County "not [to] transfer the property or structure to another person without first giving notice to the buyer and filing an ‘Affidavit of Disclosure’ indicating that the new owner has been advised of and will fully accept and comply with outstanding code violations"— i.e., advised the County that it must comply with the provisions of City Code § 17-27(l). Id. at 370. A notice to this effect was also publicly filed with the Jackson County Register of Deeds. The City notified the County by a

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"notice of hearing" dated February 27, 2012, that the Building Code Board of Examiners and Appeals would hold a hearing on March 8, 2012. The City sent the County a second "notice of hearing" dated May 4, 2012, stating that a hearing would take place on May 17, 2012. The County chose not to contest the Property’s condemnation, and, in May 2012, the City’s Board of Examiners upheld the condemnation and set the home on the Property for demolition.

In September 2012, before the demolition was carried out, the County sold the Property to Terrence Hill for $400 through its public auction process. Although the Auction Booklet instructed prospective purchasers to "[c]heck with the City of Jackson for any possible Condemnation Order/Ordinance Violations Pending," the County did not notify Hill that the structure on the Property was condemned, and it did not provide or file the affidavit of disclosure required by § 17-27(l) and the Notice and Order. DE 37-8, Auction Booklet, Page ID 1672. After winning the auction, Hill checked with the City’s Neighborhood and Economic Operation department and learned for the first time that the structure on the Property was condemned— though at that time he was erroneously told that it was not on a demolition list.

Hill received a quitclaim deed to the Property on October 10, 2012, and, believing that he could get the home up to code, began working on improvements. Hill restored utility services, bought roofing material, kitchen appliances, and carpeting, and he contacted the relevant City department to obtain required building permits for the home— though the permits were not issued. On January 18, 2013, the energy provider disconnected the Property’s utility services and removed the meters. Hill then contacted the City, at which time the City advised Hill that it would not issue the building rehabilitation permits for the Property and informed him that the structure was slated to be demolished. Three days later, on January 21, 2013, a City contractor demolished the home.

Hill then brought this suit in Michigan state court, alleging procedural due process, substantive due process, and equal protection violations and seeking injunctive relief and damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.3 The City and County then removed to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. The district court granted the County’s motion to dismiss the equal protection claims against it. The district court then granted summary judgment for the City on all of Hill’s claims,4 and later granted summary judgment for the County on Hill’s remaining due process claims.5

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We review a district court’s grant of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim de novo .

Casias v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 695 F.3d 428, 435 (6th Cir. 2012). "To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’ " Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (quoting Bell A. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007) ). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. Grant of a motion to dismiss is proper if this plausibility standard is not met. See id.

We review a district court’s grant of summary judgment de novo . Kalich v. AT&T Mobility, LLC, 679 F.3d 464, 469 (6th Cir. 2012). Summary judgment is appropriate "if 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). In considering a motion for summary judgment, we "draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party." Int’l Union v. Cummins, Inc., 434 F.3d 478, 483 (6th Cir. 2006) (citing Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986) ). In doing so we ask "whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986).


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