Kiel v. City of Kenosha

Decision Date08 December 2000
Docket NumberNo. 00-2651,00-2651
Citation236 F.3d 814,2000 WL 1800972
Parties(7th Cir. 2001) JOHN B. KIEL, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. CITY OF KENOSHA, NICK E. ARNOLD, CHUCK GRAPENTINE, and JOSEPH KISER, Defendants-Appellees
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Seventh Circuit

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. No. 00 C 782--John W. Reynolds, Judge.

Before BAUER, COFFEY, and EASTERBROOK, Circuit Judges.

COFFEY, Circuit Judge.

On May 30, 2000, John Kiel, a firefighter employed by the City of Kenosha, Wisconsin, filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. sec. 1983 alleging that the City's residency requirement violated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.1 Kiel also filed a motion for a preliminary injunction requesting that the court enjoin the defendants from enforcing the residency requirement. The trial court denied Kiel's motion for a preliminary injunction, concluding that the plaintiff had very little chance of success on the merits. Kiel filed an interlocutory appeal, and we affirm.2

The facts of this case are straightforward. Kiel and his fiancee wanted to buy a house in Racine County and live there but could not because, as a Kenosha firefighter, Kiel was required to reside in Kenosha County. On May 19, 2000, Kiel, despite the residency requirement, made an offer on a house in Caledonia, Wisconsin, which is in an adjacent county known as Racine County, and sought a waiver of the residency requirement from the City Administrator, Nick Arnold.3 On May 22, 2000, Kiel sent another letter to Arnold informing him that Kiel's offer to purchase the Caledonia property was accepted, but was contingent on Kiel's ability to obtain a waiver of the residency requirement. In a joint letter, Kiser and Grapentine denied Kiel's request for a waiver of the residency requirement. In a separate letter, Arnold also denied Kiel's request. Instead of accepting the City's decision, Kiel brought this suit and sought a preliminary injunction barring the enforcement of the residency requirement. As stated above, the trial judge denied the motion for a preliminary injunction, holding that Kiel had little chance of succeeding on the merits of his claim. Kiel appeals.

The sole issue on appeal is whether the trial judge acted correctly in denying Kiel's preliminary injunction motion. In reviewing a denial of a preliminary injunction, we review the district court's findings of fact for clear error, its balancing of the factors for a preliminary injunction under the abuse of discretion standard, and its legal conclusions de novo. Platinum Home Mortgage Corp. v. Platinum Fin. Group, Inc., 149 F.3d 722, 726 (7th Cir. 1998). In assessing whether a preliminary injunction is warranted, a court must consider whether the party seeking the injunction has demonstrated that: 1) it has a reasonable likelihood of success on the merits of the underlying claim; 2) no adequate remedy at law exists; 3) it will suffer irreparable harm if the preliminary injunction is denied; 4) the irreparable harm the party will suffer without injunctive relief is greater than the harm the opposing party will suffer if the preliminary injunction is granted; and 5) the preliminary injunction will not harm the public interest. Id.4 As the district court concluded, Kiel has so little chance of success on the merits of his case that the granting of a preliminary junction in this instance would be inappropriate.

Initially, the Supreme Court, in McCarthy v. Philadelphia Civil Service Commission, 424 U.S. 645 (1976) and Detroit Police Officers Ass'n v. City of Detroit, 405 U.S. 950 (1972), recognized the right of municipalities to condition employment with continued residency in the city. See also Joel E. Smith, Validity, Construction, and Application of Enactments Relating to Requirement of Residency Within or near Specified Governmental Unit as Condition of Continued Employment for Policemen or Firemen, 4 ALR 4th 380 (1981). As the parties stipulated at oral argument, the City of Kenosha could have enacted an even more stringent residency requirement; that is, one which required its firefighters to live within the city limits of Kenosha rather than within the parameters of Kenosha County.

The appellant attempts to get around this concession by arguing that the requirement that Kenosha firefighters reside in Kenosha County irrationally distinguishes between those individuals who wish to live outside the county and those who wish to live inside Kenosha County. Kiel further contends that the distinction is irrational because the residence he wishes to purchase in Racine County is actually closer to the City of Kenosha than are some of the residences where he could reside within the limits of Kenosha County. However, when applying the "rational basis" test, "statutory classifications will be set aside only if no grounds can be conceived to justify them." McDonald v. Board of Election Commissioners, 394 U.S. 802, 809 (1969). The City has set forth a plethora of rational justifications for the...

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    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Illinois
    • May 4, 2001
    ...the preliminary injunction is wrongfully denied; and (5) granting the injunction will not harm the public interest. Kiel v. City of Kenosha, 236 F.3d 814, 816 (7th Cir.2000); South/Southwest Assoc. of Realtors, Inc. v. Village of Evergreen Park, 109 F.Supp.2d 926, 927 I. Mootness Although L......
  • U.S. v. Sriram
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Illinois
    • February 12, 2001
    ...if the preliminary injunction is granted; and (5) the preliminary injunction will not harm the public interest." Kiel v. City of Kenosha, 236 F.3d 814 (7th Cir.2000). However, because it seeks a preliminary injunction under a specific grant of authority conferred by 18 U.S.C. § 1345, the Go......
  • Univ. of Notre Dame v. Sebelius
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Indiana
    • December 20, 2013
    ...has less than a “negligible chance of success.” Lineback v. Spurlino Materials, 546 F.3d 491, 502 (7th Cir.2008); Kiel v. City of Kenosha, 236 F.3d 814, 815–16 (7th Cir.2000). This simply means that a greater harm can make up for a lesser likelihood of success. See, e.g., AM Gen. Corp. v. D......
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    ...424, 429-30 (7th Cir.2001). A party with no chance of success on the merits cannot attain a preliminary injunction. Kiel v. City of Kenosha, 236 F.3d 814, 815 (7th Cir.2000). In the first phase of the analysis, the court decides only whether the plaintiff has any likelihood of success—in ot......
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