980 F.2d 1104 (7th Cir. 1992), 91-3887, Bowman v. City of Franklin

Docket Nº:91-3887.
Citation:980 F.2d 1104
Party Name:Loretta BOWMAN, William H. Bowman, William H. Bowman, Jr., et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. CITY OF FRANKLIN, J.C. Zimmerman Engineering Corporation, Waste Management of Wisconsin, Incorporated, et al., Defendants-Appellees.
Case Date:December 02, 1992
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
 
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Page 1104

980 F.2d 1104 (7th Cir. 1992)

Loretta BOWMAN, William H. Bowman, William H. Bowman, Jr.,

et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants,

v.

CITY OF FRANKLIN, J.C. Zimmerman Engineering Corporation,

Waste Management of Wisconsin, Incorporated, et

al., Defendants-Appellees.

No. 91-3887.

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

December 2, 1992

Argued Oct. 20, 1992.

Rehearing Denied Jan. 4, 1993.

Page 1105

Steve Enich, Charles H. Johnson, Milwaukee, Wis., for plaintiffs-appellants.

Jesse A. Wesolowski (argued), Franklin, Wis., for City of Franklin.

James L. Kirschnik, Patrick R. Burns, Machulak & Hutchinson, Brookfield, Wis., for J.C. Zimmerman Engineering.

Cordelia S. Munroe (argued), David S. Branch, Friebert, Finerty & St. John, Milwaukee, Wis., for Waste Management of Wisconsin Inc., and Waste Management of North America, Inc.

Before BAUER, Chief Judge, POSNER, Circuit Judge, and ESCHBACH, Senior Circuit Judge.

ESCHBACH, Senior Circuit Judge.

The Bowmans, Plaintiffs-Appellants, brought this action under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985 against the City of Franklin ("Franklin"), J.C. Zimmerman Engineering Corp. ("Zimmerman"), Waste Management of Wisconsin, Inc. and its parent company, Waste Management of North America, Inc. (collectively, "Waste") seeking injunctive and monetary relief for purported violations of their civil rights as guaranteed by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution. The factual basis of the suit is the installation of a sewer line, a portion of which runs through the Bowmans' property, and the recording of assessments related

Page 1106

to that installation. The Bowmans asserted that the sewer line and the assessments were the product of a conspiracy among the defendants to interfere with their property rights by imposing illegal taxes on the Bowmans, polluting the Bowmans' property and taking the property for the private use and benefit of Waste. In addition to the federal counts, the Bowmans included pendent claims, presumably under Wisconsin tort law, alleging both trespass and an interference with prospective purchasers of their property. The district court dismissed all counts of the Bowmans' complaint as to all defendants pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. We have jurisdiction over the appeal of this final disposition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291. We affirm. We also deny defendants' request for sanctions under Fed.R.App.P. 38 and Circuit Rule 38.

I.

First, we review the history of the defendants' association with each other because the Bowmans attempt to use this history to allege a conspiracy among the defendants. Franklin embarked on a series of civic improvements that resulted in their retention of Zimmerman as consulting engineer on the installation of Franklin's Central City Sewer (the "CCS"), which would ultimately connect with the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (the "MMSD").

Waste formally requested that Franklin connect Waste's Metro Landfill, located in Franklin, to the CCS as an alternative method of transporting leachate produced in the landfill to the MMSD. Waste had been trucking the leachate to a MMSD treatment plant at relatively high cost. At roughly the same time, Waste, with Franklin's knowledge, retained Zimmerman as its project engineer to construct the force main necessary to connect to the CCS. Waste agreed to pay for modifications to the CCS necessary to accommodate Waste's use. Waste also agreed to construct the force main at its own expense and "dedicate ownership" of it to Franklin. Finally, Waste agreed to pay a connection fee of $600,000 and a continuing annual fee of $120,000 to Franklin's general operating fund, which would be used to reduce future property tax assessments.

The Bowmans' involvement with the CCS project began when William H. Bowman granted an easement to Franklin for the construction of a sanitary sewer through the Bowmans' property. The easement indenture states: "[n]o special assessments shall be levied against subject property for any sanitary sewer and appurtenances erected on said easement." R. 30 at Ex. A.

A report on special assessments prepared by Zimmerman included an assessment of $89,312.09 for the CCS in the public right of way abutting the Bowmans' property. R. 27 at Ex. B. The Bowmans appealed this $89,321.09 assessment to the Milwaukee County Circuit Court, which determined that there had been an error in computation and annulled the assessment. By resolution, Franklin reenacted the assessment, reducing it to $82,407.59. R. 1 at Ex. 12. A second $51,187.00 assessment for the CCS on the Bowman property was recorded by Franklin, but was never charged to the Bowmans pursuant to the term of the easement indenture. R. 1 at Ex. 6. Because it was never billed, the Bowmans refer to this second assessment as a "secret" assessment.

The Bowmans then filed a complaint in federal district court, the dismissal of which is the subject of this appeal. In response to the Bowmans' complaint, Waste moved to dismiss all claims against them for failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Both of the remaining defendants, Franklin and Zimmerman, answered the complaint. In addition to filing its answer, Zimmerman moved for summary judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 and for sanctions pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 11 or...

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