76 F.3d 778 (6th Cir. 1996), 93-2508, Gustafson v. City of Lake Angelus

Docket Nº:93-2508, 93-2537.
Citation:76 F.3d 778
Party Name:Robert GUSTAFSON, Plaintiff-Appellee/Cross-Appellant, v. CITY OF LAKE ANGELUS; Donald Althoff, Mayor of the City of Lake Angelus; Michael Stefani, Chief of Lake Angelus Police Force, Defendants-Appellants/Cross-Appellees.
Case Date:February 27, 1996
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
 
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76 F.3d 778 (6th Cir. 1996)

Robert GUSTAFSON, Plaintiff-Appellee/Cross-Appellant,

v.

CITY OF LAKE ANGELUS; Donald Althoff, Mayor of the City of

Lake Angelus; Michael Stefani, Chief of Lake

Angelus Police Force,

Defendants-Appellants/Cross-Appellees.

Nos. 93-2508, 93-2537.

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

February 27, 1996

Argued March 20, 1995.

Rehearing and Suggestion

for Rehearing En Banc

Denied April 3, 1996.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Thomas M. Slavin (argued and briefed), Steven M. Chait (briefed), Sullivan, Ward, Bone, Tyler, Fiott & Asher, Southfield, MI, for Robert Gustafson.

John D. Staran (briefed), James L. Howlett (argued), Beier & Howlett, Bloomfield Hills, MI, for City of Lake Angelus, Donald Althoff, Michael Stefani.

Koteles Alexander (briefed), Alexander, Gebhardt, Aponte & Marks, Silver Spring, MD, for Michigan Mun. League, National Institute of Mun. Law Officers.

Donald C. Frank (briefed), Pratt & Frank, Okemos, MI, for Seaplane Pilots Ass'n.

Before: JONES, CONTIE, and BATCHELDER, Circuit Judges.

CONTIE, J., delivered the opinion of the court. JONES (p. 792), and BATCHELDER (p. 793), JJ., delivered separate concurring opinions.

CONTIE, Circuit Judge.

Defendants-appellants/cross-appellees, the City of Lake Angelus, Donald Althoff, Mayor of the City of Lake Angelus, and Michael Stefani, Chief of the Lake Angelus Police Force, appeal the district court's grant of summary judgment to plaintiff-appellee/cross-appellant, Robert Gustafson, holding that city ordinances prohibiting the operation of seaplanes on the surface of Lake Angelus are preempted by federal law. 1 Plaintiff Gustafson cross-appeals from the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendants in regard to plaintiff's 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1988 claims that the ordinances denied his due process and equal protection rights in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment and that he should be awarded attorneys fees. For the following reasons, we affirm in part and reverse in part.

I.

Plaintiff Robert Gustafson, a seaplane pilot, brought suit against defendants, the City

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of Lake Angelus (the "City") and various city officials, challenging city ordinances prohibiting the operation of seaplanes on the surface of Lake Angelus as preempted by federal law. Plaintiff sought declaratory and injunctive relief against enforcement of the ordinances. Plaintiff also presented a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for the violation of his constitutional rights caused by enforcement of the ordinances and sought an award of attorneys fees pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988.

Plaintiff owns a waterfront home on Lake Angelus, an inland lake in Oakland County, Michigan, that is approximately one and one-half miles long and three-quarters of a mile wide. The City of Lake Angelus is a residential community consisting of about 140 homes around the lake and lies within the airport traffic area and control zone of the FAA air traffic control tower located at the Oakland-Pontiac airport.

Plaintiff Gustafson has been certified as a seaplane pilot by the Federal Aviation Administration ("FAA"). On August 9, 1991, plaintiff landed a rented seaplane on Lake Angelus and then docked and moored the plane at his home on the shore of the lake. Subsequently, a city police officer notified plaintiff that he had violated two city ordinances concerning seaplanes and warned him not to land his seaplane on the lake again. Plaintiff was not prosecuted for violating the ordinances.

Plaintiff was in violation of city ordinances 66(E) and 25(J). Ordinance 66(E) is an amendment to the City's zoning ordinance, which reads in relevant part: 2

4.10. Nuisances prohibited. Land may not be used for any of the following purposes, all of which are declared to be public nuisances:

E. The mooring, docking, launching, storage, or use of any ... aircraft powered by internal combustion engines....

Ordinance 25(J) is an amendment to the City's nuisance ordinance, and states that the following is a public nuisance:

J. The landing upon the lands, waters, or ice surface within the Village of Lake Angelus of any aircraft, airplane, sailplane, seaplane, helicopter, ground effect vehicle, or lighter than air craft.

After plaintiff was warned not to land his seaplane on the lake, he asked the city council to rescind or modify the ordinances. In response to plaintiff's efforts, on September 10, 1991, the city council issued a resolution declaring that ordinances 25(J) and 66(E) were intended to "protect the public health, safety, and general welfare" of the people and property of the City. The council listed "noise, danger, apprehension of danger, pollution, apprehension of pollution, contamination and infestation from other bodies of water, destruction of property values, and interference with other lawful uses of the lake enjoyed by the great majority of citizens, including boating, sailing, fishing, swimming, and other recreational uses," as ways in which the welfare of the City was protected by the ordinances.

Plaintiff filed this action in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, contending that the ordinances are preempted by federal and state law and that they violate his constitutional rights. He asked the court to: (1) declare that ordinances 25(J) and 66(E) are void, unenforceable, and unconstitutional pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2201; (2) issue a permanent injunction enjoining defendants from enforcing the ordinances; and (3) award costs and attorneys fees to plaintiff pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988 for the alleged constitutional violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

On October 21, 1993, the district court heard the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment and plaintiff's motion for declaratory judgment and a permanent injunction. On October 22, 1993, the district court issued

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an opinion. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2201, the court found that ordinances 25(J) and 66(E) governing the operation of seaplanes on the surface of Lake Angelus are preempted by federal law. The court granted plaintiff Gustafson's motion for summary judgment on this issue and issued a permanent injunction against the City from enforcing the ordinances.

However, in regard to plaintiff's claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of his constitutional rights, the court granted the City's motion for summary judgment. The court stated that even though it had decided the case based on federal preemption, the court would address the section 1983 claim in order to determine if plaintiff was deserving of costs and attorneys fees under 42 U.S.C. § 1988. After examining plaintiff's constitutional claims, the court found they were without merit. The court determined that plaintiff failed to show that his due process or equal protection rights were violated and that he made no showing that the ordinances were overbroad, ambiguous, or vague. In addition, the court found that in order to support the ordinances, the City had presented multiple rationales, which were rationally related to legitimate government interests. For these reasons, the court granted the City's motion for summary judgment on plaintiff's 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim and determined that plaintiff should not be awarded costs and attorneys fees pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988.

Defendants filed a timely notice of appeal in regard to the district court's issuance of a permanent injunction prohibiting the City from enforcing the ordinances against the operation of seaplanes on the surface of Lake Angelus. Plaintiff Gustafson filed a cross-appeal, challenging the portions of the district court's opinion that found no violation of due process or equal protection rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and denied costs and attorneys fees pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988.

II.

We must first decide whether the district court erred in determining that the City of Lake Angelus ordinances 25(J) and 66(E), which prohibit the operation of seaplanes on the surface of Lake Angelus, are preempted by federal law.

The doctrine of preemption springs from the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution: "[t]he Constitution and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof ... shall be the supreme Law of the Land." U.S. Const., art. VI, cl. 2; Fidelity Federal Savings & Loan Ass'n v. de la Cuesta, 458 U.S. 141, 152, 102 S.Ct. 3014, 3022, 73 L.Ed.2d 664 (1982). As interpreted by Chief Justice Marshall, "in every case, the act of Congress, or the treaty, is supreme; and the law of the state, though enacted in the exercise of powers not controverted, must yield to it." Gibbons v. Ogden, 22 U.S. (9 Wheat.) 1, 6 L.Ed. 23 (1824). Preemption is predicated on congressional intent. The will of Congress to monopolize an area of legislation may be expressed in the authorizing statute and in the regulations enacted pursuant to that statute. Hillsborough County, Florida v. Automated Medical Labs., Inc., 471 U.S. 707, 713, 105 S.Ct. 2371, 2375, 85 L.Ed.2d 714 (1985).

A statute may be construed as preemptive under three circumstances. Id. First, Congress, in enacting a federal statute, may express a clear intent to preempt state law. Pacific Gas & Electric Co. v. State Energy Resources Conservation & Development Comm'n, 461 U.S. 190, 203, 103 S.Ct. 1713, 1721-22, 75 L.Ed.2d 752 (1983). Second, absent express preemption, federal law may have an implied preemptive effect if Congress revealed this intent by "occupying the field" of regulation. Silkwood v. Kerr-McGee Corp., 464 U.S. 238, 248, 104 S.Ct. 615, 621, 78 L.Ed.2d 443 (1984). There is implied preemption when there is a "scheme of federal regulation ... so pervasive as to make reasonable the inference that Congress left no room for the States to supplement it" or "because the Act of Congress may touch a field in which the federal interest is so dominant that the federal system...

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