940 F.2d 925 (5th Cir. 1991), 90-1099, Samaad v. City of Dallas

Docket Nº:90-1099, 90-1721 and 90-1722.
Citation:940 F.2d 925
Party Name:Abdul Muhammad SAMAAD, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. CITY OF DALLAS, State Fair of Texas, Dallas Grand Prix Co., and Larry Waldrop, Defendants-Appellees. Delores PIERCE, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. CITY OF DALLAS, Auto Racing of Dallas, Inc., and Sports Car Club of America, Inc., Defendants-Appellees. Delores PIERCE, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellees, v
Case Date:August 23, 1991
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
 
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940 F.2d 925 (5th Cir. 1991)

Abdul Muhammad SAMAAD, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

CITY OF DALLAS, State Fair of Texas, Dallas Grand Prix Co.,

and Larry Waldrop, Defendants-Appellees.

Delores PIERCE, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants,

v.

CITY OF DALLAS, Auto Racing of Dallas, Inc., and Sports Car

Club of America, Inc., Defendants-Appellees.

Delores PIERCE, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellees,

v.

CITY OF DALLAS, et al., Defendants,

Frank Wise, Defendant-Appellant.

Nos. 90-1099, 90-1721 and 90-1722.

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

August 23, 1991

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Neil H. Cogan, Dallas, Tex., for Abdul Muhammad Samaad, et al., and Delores Pierce, et al.

Marston Alexander, Russell Smith, Dallas, Tex., for State Fair of Texas and Waldrop.

Martin R. Merritt, George A. Otstott, Otstott & Guerrero, Dallas, Tex., for Auto Racing.

T. Marston Alexandar, Dallas, Tex., for Sports Car Club.

Thomas P. Brandt, Asst. City Atty., Dallas, Tex., for City of Dallas and Frank Wise.

Appeals from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas.

Before GOLDBERG, SMITH, and BARKSDALE, Circuit Judges.

JERRY E. SMITH, Circuit Judge:

In this case, plaintiffs contend that defendants' running of two grand prix automobile races in a public park near their homes effected a taking of their property without just compensation, deprived them of property without due process of law, denied them equal protection of the laws, and violated state law. The district court entered summary judgment for defendants on each federal law claim except for the equal protection claim, with respect to which it ordered limited discovery regarding one defendant's claim of qualified immunity. We affirm the court's grant of summary judgment but reverse its denial of qualified immunity and concomitant discovery order and remand for further proceedings.

I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND.

  1. No. 90-1099, Samaad v. City of Dallas.

    From July 5-8, 1984, defendant Dallas Grand Prix Co. (Dallas Grand Prix) held a series of automobile races at Fair Park, a public park belonging to the defendant City of Dallas (City). Fair Park is the site of the Cotton Bowl and the Texas State Fair. Defendant State Fair of Texas (State Fair), a non-profit corporation, manages Fair Park pursuant to a longstanding agreement with the city. State Fair leased Fair Park to Dallas Grand Prix for the days of the race.

    Plaintiffs 1 reside in the neighborhood surrounding Fair Park. In their complaint,

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    they contend that noise from the races impaired their use and enjoyment of their homes. They also assert that they suffered various physical and psychological ailments as a result of the races.

    The plaintiffs seek recovery for their alleged injuries pursuant to 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983, asserting claims under the Due Process and Takings Clauses of the Fifth Amendment. They add pendent 2 state law claims under Texas common law. The district court granted defendants' motion for summary judgment with respect to the takings and due process claims and dismissed the pendent state law claims without prejudice. Samaad v. City of Dallas, 733 F.Supp. 239 (N.D.Tex.1990).

  2. Nos. 90-1721 and 90-1722, Pierce v. City of Dallas.

    The complaint in this case focuses upon similar grand prix races held from April 29 through May 1, 1988, at Fair Park. Plaintiffs brought suit against the city, Frank Wise (a city official), Auto Racing of Dallas, Inc., and Sports Car Club of America, Inc.

    Unlike the Samaad plaintiffs, the Pierce plaintiffs charge the defendants with racial discrimination, alleging that defendants would have acted differently had the neighborhoods surrounding Fair Park been predominantly white. According to the complaint, most of the people living near Fair Park are "members of racial minority groups." The complaint does not allege that defendants selected Fair Park for the race over a suitable location in a predominantly white neighborhood; plaintiffs do not even claim that another appropriate site exists.

    Plaintiffs nonetheless seek recovery under the Equal Protection Clause, the Due Process Clause, the Takings Clause, and state and local law, again using section 1983 as the procedural vehicle for the federal claims. The district court granted summary judgment for defendants on all the federal claims except the equal protection claim, with respect to which the court stated that it was unable to rule on Wise's assertion of qualified immunity without discovery into his alleged discriminatory intent.

  3. The Scope of the Appeals.

    Desiring to appeal simultaneously from their defeats on the takings and due process claims in both Samaad and Pierce, the Pierce plaintiffs successfully sought a final judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(b). Because the equal protection claim remained pending, plaintiffs would not have been able to appeal the otherwise interlocutory order denying their other federal law claims without the rule 54(b) judgment (or some other special circumstance, such as permission to take an interlocutory appeal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1292(b)). The Samaad defendants now argue that a rule 54(b) judgment was unavailable to the district court and that thus we are without jurisdiction.

    In Samaad (No. 90-1099), the remaining appellant, plaintiff Abdul Samaad, appeals the district court's entry of summary judgment for defendants on his federal law claims, as do the Pierce plaintiffs. The defendants argue not only that the district court correctly granted summary judgment, but also that the takings claim is unripe. Defendant Frank Wise brings his own appeal in No. 90-1722, arguing that the court erred in ordering discovery with respect to the equal protection claim. The Pierce plaintiffs contend that we are without jurisdiction over Wise's appeal because the court's discovery order is not a "final judgment" under 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1291. Accordingly, we must address five main issues: (1) whether a rule 54(b) judgment was available to the district court; (2) whether the "taking for a public use without

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    just compensation" claim is ripe for adjudication; (3) whether the court properly granted summary judgment with respect to the takings and due process claims; (4) whether we have jurisdiction over Wise's appeal; and (5) whether the court erred in rejecting Wise's assertion of qualified immunity and in ordering discovery.

    II. AVAILABILITY OF THE RULE 54(b) JUDGMENT.

    In their complaint, the Pierce plaintiffs seek recovery under a variety of theories, alleging that defendants (1) denied them equal protection of the laws; (2) deprived them of property without due process of law; (3) took their property without just compensation; and (4) transgressed state law. The Pierce complaint differs from that in Samaad insofar as the former includes an equal protection claim.

    Defendants successfully moved for summary judgment with respect to the takings and due process claims. However, the court declined to grant summary judgment on the equal protection claim, instead permitting plaintiffs to conduct discovery into Wise's alleged discriminatory intent. As the district court also had granted the Samaad defendants summary judgment, the Pierce plaintiffs desired to appeal these two defeats together. However, the order in Pierce remained interlocutory, 3 for the equal protection claim against Wise and Dallas still was pending.

    The Pierce plaintiffs therefore sought a final judgment under rule 54(b). The district court granted the motion and entered judgment, thus allowing the plaintiffs simultaneously to appeal both Samaad and Pierce. The city and Wise moved to dismiss the appeal (No. 90-1721), arguing that the court's grant of a final judgment under rule 54(b) was improper. 4 An administrative panel of this court denied the motion without prejudice but suggested that this panel revisit the issue.

    Rule 54(b), entitled "Judgment upon Multiple Claims or Involving Multiple Parties," provides in pertinent part,

    When more than one claim for relief is presented in an action, whether as a claim, counterclaim, cross-claim, or third-party claim, or when multiple parties are involved, the court may direct the entry of a final judgment as to one or more but fewer than all of the claims or parties only upon an express determination that there is no just reason for delay and upon an express direction for the entry of judgment. In the absence of such determination and direction, any order or other form of decision, however designated, which adjudicates fewer than all the claims or the rights and liabilities of fewer than all the parties shall not terminate the action as to any of the claims or parties, and the order or other form of decision is subject to revision at any time before the entry of judgment adjudicating all the claims and the rights and liabilities of all the parties.

    Thus, a court may grant a rule 54(b) judgment only if "more than one claim for relief is presented in an action" or "multiple parties are involved." The district court apparently granted the instant rule 54(b) motion on the ground that the action presented multiple claims. The city and Wise disagree and argue that the court could not properly invoke rule 54(b). 5

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    We note initially that the proper method for reviewing a rule 54(b) judgment is not well established. The language of the rule lends itself to two distinct challenges to a rule 54(b) judgment predicated upon the existence of multiple claims. First, an appellee seeking dismissal of an appeal could argue that the complaint does not present "more than one claim for relief." This is a legal question that could be raised sua sponte by a court of appeals concerned that it might not have jurisdiction. The court of appeals would review de novo the district court's finding of separate claims.

    Second, an appellee could...

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