Otworth v. Budnik, 112114 FED6, 14-1139
|Opinion Judge:||KAREN NELSON MOORE, Circuit Judge.|
|Party Name:||CLARENCE OTWORTH, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. WANDA BUDNIK, LISA SWANSON, PAUL ALLEN BIXLER, F.E. TRONCONE, P. BRIAN MOORE, PHILLIP C. BODLE, BARBARA A. IBOLD, JONATHAN MEADE, AND UNKNOWN PARTIES, Defendants-Appellees.|
|Judge Panel:||Before: DAUGHTREY, MOORE, and CLAY, Circuit Judges.|
|Case Date:||November 21, 2014|
|Court:||United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit|
NOT RECOMMENDED FOR FULL-TEXT PUBLICATION
ON APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
Of all the tax avoidance schemes, this case almost certainly involves one of the strangest. In his complaint, Clarence Otworth alleges that the Village of Lakewood Club was falsely incorporated in 1967 and has been illegally assessing taxes on his property ever since. By collecting mortgage payments from him, Otworth asserts that Fifth Third Bank has been complicit in this illicit collection scheme.
Otworth brought suit against local officials and Fifth Third employees, alleging violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), fraud, and breach of fiduciary duty. Otworth, however, has failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Accordingly, we AFFIRM the district court's judgment granting defendants' motions to dismiss.
According to Otworth, "Lakewood Club is an unincorporated village that has successfully pretended to be incorporated since June 28, 1967." R. 1 (Complaint at ¶ 34) (Page ID #5). By "masquerading as a legitimate Michigan Municipality, " Otworth alleges, Lakewood Club has been able to levy property taxes illegally against him. Id. at ¶ 36 (Page ID #5). As Otworth's mortgagor, Fifth Third Bank is allegedly a co-conspirator in this scheme—it collects mortgage payments from Otworth, and then directs part of the payment to offset Otworth's property taxes. In his complaint, Otworth charges officials from Lakewood Club and employees at Fifth Third Bank with violations of RICO, fraud, and breach of fiduciary duty. Id. at ¶¶ 210-229 (Page ID #18-22). The district court granted defendants' motions to dismiss. See R. 72 (Dist. Ct. Op. & Order 5) (Page ID #343). On appeal, Otworth contends that the district judge erred in its decision below. In addition, he alleges that the district court failed to take judicial notice of various Michigan laws, which he believes compels the conclusion that the Village of Lakewood Club was illegally incorporated. Appellant Br. at 4.
We review the district court's decision to grant defendants' motions to dismiss de novo. See Seaton v. TripAdvisor LLC, 728 F.3d 592, 596 (6th Cir. 2013). Under the Supreme Court's decisions in Iqbal and Twombly, "a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that...
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