Club Italia Soccer & Sports v. Charter Tp. Shelby

Decision Date30 November 2006
Docket NumberNo. 05-2360.,05-2360.
Citation470 F.3d 286
PartiesCLUB ITALIA SOCCER & SPORTS ORGANIZATION, INC., a Michigan Non-Profit Corporation, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. CHARTER TOWNSHIP OF SHELBY, MICHIGAN, Defendant-Appellee.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Sixth Circuit

Cindy Rhodes Victor, The Victor Firm PLLC, Utica, Michigan, for Appellant. Robert J. Seibert, Seibert and Dloski, Mt. Clemens, Michigan, for Appellee.


Cindy Rhodes Victor, The Victor Firm PLLC, Utica, Michigan, for Appellant. Robert J. Seibert, Seibert and Dloski, Mt. Clemens, Michigan, Robert S. Huth, Jr., Kirk & Huth, Clinton Township, Michigan, for Appellee.

Before CLAY and GILMAN, Circuit Judges; STAFFORD, District Judge.*


CLAY, Circuit Judge.

Plaintiff, Club Italia Soccer & Sports Organization, Inc., appeals a September 6, 2005 order granting summary judgment in favor of Defendant, Charter Township of Shelby, to dismiss Plaintiff's due process and equal protection claims. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant violated the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment as made actionable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by accepting a soccer complex development proposal from Soccer City, Inc. ("Soccer City") without first granting Plaintiff the opportunity to submit a bid on terms equal to those granted to Soccer City. Soccer City is a for-profit corporation engaged in the business of developing, designing, constructing, and maintaining soccer fields and facilities. The district court dismissed Plaintiff's claims for lack of standing, holding that Plaintiff did not allege an injury-in-fact because Plaintiff failed to demonstrate the existence of a protected liberty or property interest. While we find that Plaintiff did in fact have standing, we AFFIRM the order of the district court on the ground that Plaintiff failed to state a claim for relief.

I. Factual History

The facts in this case are largely undisputed. Sometime in 2002, Soccer City contacted Defendant to propose the development and construction of soccer facilities on Defendant's property. Defendant authorized Soccer City to conduct environmental tests on the property and instructed Soccer City to submit a formal development proposal. The first site Soccer City tested was found to be unsuitable for construction, so a second site was tested. After determining that the second site was suitable, Soccer City submitted a formal proposal to Defendant on December 8, 2004.

In March 2005, Plaintiff, a non-profit sports organization, contacted Defendant and obtained a copy of Soccer City's proposal. At a town board meeting shortly thereafter, on April 5, 2005, Jack Ciraulo, Plaintiff's president, voiced concerns about the bidding process and expressed Plaintiff's interest in submitting a proposal. The Board held a special session on April 11, 2005, during which it decided to accept additional proposals. On April 15, 2005, the Board issued an "invitation to compete," inviting all other interested parties to submit proposals. The Board required any interested parties to submit their bids within the following three weeks in order to have them considered. The Board further required a guarantee from any new bidders that whomever was awarded the contract would reimburse Soccer City for the environmental testing it had conducted.

Plaintiff was unable, in the time allotted, to conduct the necessary surveying or designing, or to obtain the necessary engineering services needed to complete its bid. Thus, Plaintiff could not prepare proposal within the three-week period. On May 6, 2005, the day the bids were due, Plaintiff contacted the Board to request additional time to prepare its proposal. The Board never responded to Plaintiff's request, and subsequently accepted the only bid submitted, which was the one from Soccer City.

II. Procedural History

On June 14, 2005, Plaintiff filed a complaint in district court alleging that Defendant's bidding procedures and its acceptance of a bid from Soccer City violated the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. Plaintiff simultaneously moved for a preliminary injunction, requesting that the district court prohibit Defendant from beginning work on Soccer City's proposal until after the district court resolved the issues alleged in the complaint. The district court denied Plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction on June 24, 2005.

On July 7, 2005, Defendant moved for summary judgment. The district court held a hearing on Defendant's motion on August 22, 2005 and thereafter granted the motion on September 6, 2005. Plaintiff timely appealed the district court's order on September 30, 2005.

I. Standard of Review

This Court reviews a district court's grant of summary judgment de novo. Blakely v. United States, 276 F.3d 853, 863 (6th Cir.2002). Summary judgment is proper where there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c).

II. Plaintiff's Standing to Bring its Claims
A. Requirements for Standing
1. Constitutional Standing Requirements

The standing doctrine imposes both constitutional and prudential limitations on who may properly bring suit in federal court. Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 498, 95 S.Ct. 2197, 45 L.Ed.2d 343 (1975). The basis for constitutional standing is derived from Article III's "Case or Controversy" requirement, which limits federal court authority to legal issues "`which are traditionally thought to be capable of resolution through the judicial process.'" Nat'l Rifle Ass'n of Am. v. Magaw, 132 F.3d 272, 279 (6th Cir.1997) (quoting Flast v. Cohen, 392 U.S. 83, 97, 88 S.Ct. 1942, 20 L.Ed.2d 947 (1968)). Constitutional standing requires a plaintiff to "allege personal injury fairly traceable to the defendant's allegedly unlawful conduct and likely to be redressed by the requested relief." Allen v. Wright, 468 U.S. 737, 751, 104 S.Ct. 3315, 82 L.Ed.2d 556 (1984). This encompasses three distinct elements:

First, the plaintiff must have suffered an injury in fact—an invasion of a legally protected interest which is (a) concrete and particularized, and (b) actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical. Second, there must be a causal connection between the injury and the conduct complained of .... Third, it must be likely as opposed to merely speculative, that the injury will be redressed by a favorable decision.

Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560, 112 S.Ct. 2130, 119 L.Ed.2d 351 (1992). These requirements exist to insure that the litigants possess "a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy." Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186, 208, 82 S.Ct. 691, 7 L.Ed.2d 663 (1962).

2. Prudential Standing Requirements

Prudential standing imposes at least two additional requirements on plaintiffs. Allen, 468 U.S. at 751, 104 S.Ct. 3315. First, a plaintiff may not raise generalized grievances. Fed. Elec. Comm'n v. Akins, 524 U.S. 11, 23-25, 118 S.Ct. 1777, 141 L.Ed.2d 10 (1998). Second, a plaintiff generally may not raise the rights of third parties. Allen, 468 U.S. at 751, 104 S.Ct. 3315; Craig v. Boren, 429 U.S. 190, 193-94, 97 S.Ct. 451, 50 L.Ed.2d 397 (1976). The prudential standing requirements, unlike the constitutional limitations, are not derived from law, but instead are judicially constructed self-imposed restraints on standing. Allen, 468 U.S. at 751, 104 S.Ct. 3315. As such, they vary in application, and there exist some prudential standing requirements that are not universally applied in all cases. Clarke v. Sec. Indus. Ass'n, 479 U.S. 388, 400 n. 16, 107 S.Ct. 750, 93 L.Ed.2d 757 (1987).

One such narrowly applied requirement is the "zone of interest" test. The zone of interest test requires a plaintiff to show that the rights he or she is seeking to protect are those rights contemplated by the statute or constitutional guarantee being invoked. The test originated in Association of Data Processing Service Organizations, Inc. v. Camp, 397 U.S. 150, 154, 90 S.Ct. 827, 25 L.Ed.2d 184 (1970), which established the requirements for standing under the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. § 701(a)(2), ("APA"). In that case, the Supreme Court held that a plaintiff has standing to sue under the APA as a person "aggrieved" so long as the plaintiff suffered an injury-in-fact and seeks to protect interests which "are arguably within the zone of interests to be protected or regulated by the statute or constitutional guaranty in question." Data Processing, 397 U.S. at 153-54, 90 S.Ct. 827.

There remains some question as to the category of cases to which the zone of interest test applies. Subsequent Supreme Court cases have applied the zone of interest test almost exclusively to APA cases. See Clarke, 497 U.S. at 400 n. 16, 110 S.Ct. 2903 (discussing this tendency to apply the test only in the context of APA cases). However, the Court has declined to hold that the APA represents the only framework under which to apply the zone of interest test. In fact, the Court has recently noted that the test may be appropriately applied outside of this context. See Bennett v. Spear, 520 U.S. 154, 163, 117 S.Ct. 1154, 137 L.Ed.2d 281 (1997) (citing as examples of this application Dennis v. Higgins, 498 U.S. 439, 449, 111 S.Ct. 865, 112 L.Ed.2d 969 (1991) and Boston Stock Exchange v. State Tax Comm'n, 429 U.S. 318, 320-321, n. 3, 97 S.Ct. 599, 50 L.Ed.2d 514 (1977)).

This Circuit has applied the zone of interest test outside the context of the APA on numerous occasions. See, e.g., Nat'l Solid Wastes Mgm't v. Daviess, 434 F.3d 898, 901-02 (6th Cir.2006); Huish Detergents, Inc. v. Warren County, Kentucky, 214 F.3d 707, 710 (6th Cir.2000). Accordingly, to assert standing in the present case, Plaintiff must demonstrate that the rights it seeks to assert are protected by the...

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