Daniels v. Area Plan Com'n of Allen County, No. Civ. 1:00CV157.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Indiana
Writing for the CourtWilliam C. Lee
Citation125 F.Supp.2d 338
PartiesWilliam DANIELS and Judy Daniels, Plaintiffs, v. The AREA PLAN COMMISSION OF ALLEN COUNTY, HNS Enterprises LLP, and LST LLC, Defendants.
Docket NumberNo. Civ. 1:00CV157.
Decision Date19 December 2000
125 F.Supp.2d 338
William DANIELS and Judy Daniels, Plaintiffs,
No. Civ. 1:00CV157.
United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division.
December 19, 2000.

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John C. Theisen, Matthew M. Hohman, Barnes and Thornburg, Fort Wayne, IN, for plaintiffs.

R. John Wray, Wray and Associates, Fort Wayne, IN, for The Area Plan Commission of Allen County, defendant.

Laura L. Reuss, Beers Mallers Backs and Salin, Fort Wayne, IN, for LST LLC, defendant.


WILLIAM C. LEE, Chief Judge.

This matter is before the court on two motions for summary judgment. The first motion was filed by one of the defendants, the Area Plan Commission of Allen County ("Plan Commission"), on September 12, 2000. The second motion was filed by the plaintiffs, William Daniels and Judy Daniels (collectively "the Daniels"), on October 12, 2000. Also before the court is a motion to strike portions of the affidavit of Charles J. Bodenhafer, filed by the Daniels on October 12, 2000. The parties completed briefing the motions on November 27, 2000.1 For the following reasons, the motion to strike will be granted, the Daniels' motion for summary judgment will be granted, and the Plan Commission's motion for summary judgment will be denied.

Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is proper "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R.Civ.P. 56(c). However, Rule 56(c) is not a requirement that the moving party negate

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his opponent's claim. Fitzpatrick v. Catholic Bishop of Chicago, 916 F.2d 1254, 1256 (7th Cir.1990). Rule 56(c) mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery, against a party "who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and in which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). The standard for granting summary judgment mirrors the directed verdict standard under Rule 50(a), which requires the court to grant a directed verdict where there can be but one reasonable conclusion. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). A scintilla of evidence in support of the non-moving party's position is not sufficient to successfully oppose summary judgment; "there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the plaintiff." Id. In re Matter of Wildman, 859 F.2d 553, 557 (7th Cir.1988); Klein v. Ryan, 847 F.2d 368, 374 (7th Cir.1988); Valentine v. Joliet Township High School District No. 204, 802 F.2d 981, 986 (7th Cir.1986). No genuine issue for trial exists "where the record as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party." Juarez v. Ameritech Mobile Communications, Inc., 957 F.2d 317, 322 (7th Cir.1992) (quoting Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986)).

Initially, Rule 56 requires the moving party to inform the court of the basis for the motion, and to identify those portions of the "pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admission on file, together with the affidavits, if any, which demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact", Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548. The non-moving party may oppose the motion with any of the evidentiary materials listed in Rule 56(c), but reliance on the pleadings alone is not sufficient to withstand summary judgment. Goka v. Bobbitt, 862 F.2d 646, 649 (7th Cir.1988); Guenin v. Sendra Corp., 700 F.Supp. 973, 974 (N.D.Ind.1988); Posey v. Skyline Corp., 702 F.2d 102, 105 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 464 U.S. 960, 104 S.Ct. 392, 78 L.Ed.2d 336 (1983).

So that the district court may readily determine whether genuine issues of material fact exist, under Local Rule 56.1, the moving party is obligated to file with the court a "Statement of Material Facts" supported by appropriate citation to the record to which the moving party contends no genuine issues exist. In addition, the nonmovant is obligated to file with the court a "Statement of Genuine Issues" supported by appropriate citation to the record outlining all material facts to which the nonmovant contends exist that must be litigated. See, Waldridge v. American Hoechst Corp. et al., 24 F.3d 918 (7th Cir.1994). In ruling on a summary judgment motion the court accepts as true the non-moving party's evidence, draws all legitimate inferences in favor of the non-moving party, and does not weigh the evidence or the credibility of witnesses. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-51, 106 S.Ct. at 2511. Furthermore, in determining the motion for summary judgment, the court will assume that the facts as claimed and supported by admissible evidence by the moving party are admitted to exist without controversy, except to the extent that such facts are controverted in the "Statement of Genuine Issues" filed in opposition to the motion. L.R. 56.1

Substantive law determines which facts are material; that is, which facts might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505. Irrelevant or unnecessary facts do not preclude summary judgment even when they are in dispute. Id. The issue of fact must be genuine. Fed. R.Civ.P. 56(c), (e). To establish a genuine issue of fact, the non-moving party "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material

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facts." Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586, 106 S.Ct. 1348; First National Bank of Cicero v. Lewco Securities Corp., 860 F.2d 1407, 1411 (7th Cir.1988). The non-moving party must come forward with specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Id. A summary judgment determination is essentially an inquiry as to "whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251-52, 106 S.Ct. 2505. Finally, the court notes that, "[i]t is a gratuitous cruelty to parties and their witnesses to put them through the emotional ordeal of a trial when the outcome is foreordained" and in such cases summary judgment is appropriate. Mason v. Continental Illinois Nat'l Bank, 704 F.2d 361, 367 (7th Cir.1983).


On April 13, 2000, the Daniels filed a "Complaint for Declaratory Relief and Permanent Injunction". The Daniels indicate in their complaint that they are the owners of property located at 1735 Broadmoor Avenue in Fort Wayne, Indiana. This property is part of the subdivision commonly known as the Broadmoor Addition. The Daniels' property is lot number 58 of Broadmoor Addition. The plat of Broadmoor Addition contains the following restrictive covenant:

No building other than a single family dwelling and a private garage shall be built on any one lot.

Defendants HNS Enterprises, LLC ("HNS") and LST, LLC ("LST") are the owners of lots 3 through 5 of Broadmoor Addition. On or about October 1, 1999, HNS and LST petitioned the Plan Commission to vacate lots 3-5 of Broadmoor Addition from the plat of Broadmoor Addition. HNS and LST also requested that the Plan Commission approve the rezoning of lots 3-5 of Broadmoor Addition. Broadmoor Addition at that time was zoned RS-1/Suburban Residential. HNS and LST requested that lots 3-5 of Broadmoor Addition be zoned C-2A/Neighborhood Shopping Center. HNS and LST also requested that the Plan Commission approve their primary development plan for the building of a shopping center on lots 3-5 of Broadmoor Addition (the "Broadmoor Shops").

The Plan Commission initially scheduled a public hearing on all of the requests for November 18, 1999. Counsel for HNS and LST requested that their petitions be continued until a public hearing scheduled for December 9, 1999. At the December 9, 1999 public hearing, numerous residents of Broadmoor Addition objected to the granting of any of the requests. Counsel for the Daniels appeared at this hearing and argued that the Plan Commission did not have the authority to remove the restrictive covenants requiring that all buildings built within Broadmoor Addition be single family residential homes. Counsel for the Daniels also argued that the vacation and rezoning of lots 3-5 of Broadmoor Addition would constitute an unconstitutional taking of private property for a private use. Nevertheless, at a meeting on January 20, 2000, the Plan Commission adopted a "do pass" recommendation to the rezoning petition. The Plan Commission also granted conditional approval to the vacation of lots 3-5 of the Broadmoor Addition and for the approval of the primary development plan for the Broadmoor Shops.

As a result, the Daniels brought the present action, alleging that the Plan Commission's actions violated 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Daniels assert that the Plan Commission's approval of the requested vacation, rezoning and the primary development plan has caused the restrictive covenants of Broadmoor Addition to be removed from lots 3-5 thereof. The Daniels claim that the Plan Commission's actions constitute a governmental taking of private property owned by them for a private use, in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth

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Amendments of the United States Constitution and the Indiana Constitution.2

The Daniels request that this court enter a declaratory judgment finding that the Plan Commission has committed a violation of § 1983 and has violated the Federal and State Constitutional rights of the Daniels by removing the restrictive covenants from lots 3-5 of the Broadmoor Addition3, enter a...

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1 cases
  • Daniels v. Area Plan Com'n of Allen County, No. 01-1158.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • 11 Septiembre 2002
    ...for private purpose. The district court granted the Daniels' summary judgment motion. Daniels v. Area Plan Comm'n of Allen County, 125 F.Supp.2d 338 (N.D.Ind.2000). The court noted that under Indiana common law, "a restrictive covenant in a plat is a covenant running with the land, and that......

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