Livingston Christian Schools v. Genoa Charter Township
ORDER denying defendant's Motion for Reconsideration 61 Signed by District Judge George Caram Steeh. (MBea)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
LIVINGSTON CHRISTIAN SCHOOLS,
Case No. 15-12793
HON. GEORGE CARAM STEEH
GENOA CHARTER TOWNSHIP,
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT’S MOTION
FOR RECONSIDERATION (DOC. 61)
Plaintiff Livingston Christian Schools brought this action, alleging that
defendant Genoa Charter Township violated plaintiff’s rights under the
Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA), 42
U.S.C. § 2000cc et seq., the First Amendment, and the Fourteenth
Amendment. The Court granted summary judgment for defendant on June
30, 2016. (Doc. 47). Defendant filed a motion for attorney’s fees which
was scheduled for determination without oral argument. (Doc. 53). The
Court set deadlines for response and reply briefs. (Id.). Plaintiff filed a
response. The Court then issued an order denying the motion without
awaiting the filing of defendant’s reply. (Doc. 59). Defendant now moves
for reconsideration of this order.
“In any action or proceeding to enforce a provision of sections 1981,
1981a, 1982, 1983, 1985, and 1986 of this title” or RLUIPA “the court, in its
discretion, may allow the prevailing party, other than the United States, a
reasonable attorney’s fee as part of the costs.” 42 U.S.C. § 1988(b). “A
prevailing defendant should only recover upon a finding by the district court
that the plaintiff’s action was frivolous, unreasonable, or without foundation,
even though not brought in subjective bad faith.” Wolfe v. Perry, 412 F.3d
707, 720 (6th Cir. 2005) (quoting Wayne v. Village of Sebring, 36 F.3d 517,
530 (6th Cir. 1994)) (emphasis in original). The Court denied defendant’s
motion for attorney’s fees after ruling that plaintiff’s claims were not
frivolous, unreasonable, or without foundation at any point throughout the
proceedings. (Doc. 59 at 2).
Local Rule 7.1(h)(3) governs the grounds for motions for rehearing or
Generally, and without restricting the Court's
discretion, the Court will not grant motions for
rehearing or reconsideration that merely present the
same issues ruled upon by the Court, either
expressly or by reasonable implication. The movant
must not only demonstrate a palpable defect by
which the Court and the parties and other persons
entitled to be heard on the motion have been misled
but also show that correcting the defect will result in
a different disposition of the case.
Defendant asserts that the Court made a palpable defect when it
ruled before a reply brief was filed. This brief would have included two
categories of facts which defendant believes the Court overlooked in its
order. Defendant asserts that evaluating these facts will result in a finding
that plaintiff’s claims were frivolous, and therefore, attorney’s fees are
merited. Defendant’s argument fails.
Defendant first proposes that the Court was misled by failing to
consider the facts surrounding plaintiff’s ownership of the Pinckney
property. Defendant states that plaintiff owned this property at the time that
defendant denied plaintiff’s SLU permit to operate a school on the premises
of the Brighton Church of the Nazarene. Therefore, plaintiff had an
alternative location available to operate its school and defendant’s decision
to deny the permit did not impose a substantial burden on plaintiff.
The Court will not grant defendant’s motion for reconsideration on this
ground because it merely presents an issue on which the Court has already
ruled. The Court’s order recounts defendants’ argument that plaintiff’s
claims were frivolous, unreasonable, or without foundation. Although the
Court did not recount each facet of this argument, it is a reasonable
conclusion that the Court weighed all of the circumstances presented in
support of this argument, including the lack of burden due to the existence
of an alternative location. Therefore, a reply brief repeating this argument
would not alter the Court’s decision.
Defendant also asserts that the Court was misled in failing to
consider facts regarding the impossibility of using the Church of Nazarene
for the 2015-2016 school year. Defendant states that the Church had not
completed construction of the addition intended to house plaintiff’s school
nor did it obtain a Certificate of Occupancy until March 2016, more than
seven months after defendant denied the permit request. This argument
was not raised in defendant’s motion or prior filings. Although defendant
presents a new issue, addressing these facts does not lead to a finding that
plaintiff’s claims were frivolous. If defendant approved the permit, perhaps
construction circumstances would have differed and plaintiff could have
used the Church for the 2015-2016 school year. Therefore, this matter
does not alter the Court’s prior ruling.
Defendant fails to meet the standard governing the grounds for
reconsideration. Therefore, defendant’s motion is DENIED. Plaintiff’s
claims were not frivolous, unreasonable, or without foundation. As such,
attorney’s fees are not warranted.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Dated: February 7, 2017
s/George Caram Steeh
GEORGE CARAM STEEH
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE
Copies of this Order were served upon attorneys of record on
February 7, 2017, by electronic and/or ordinary mail.
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