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Stewart v. City of Franklin

United States District Court, Sixth Circuit

November 27, 2013

MICHAEL
v.
STEWART, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF FRANKLIN, FRANKLIN POLICE DEPARTMENT, BARREN RIVER AREA DEVELOPMENT DISTRICT, KEVIN ALLEN, individually and in his official capacity, AND KENTON POWELL, individually and in his official capacity, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JOSEPH H. McKINLEY, Jr., Chief District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Defendants City of Franklin, Franklin Police Department, and Kenton Powell's Motion to Dismiss [DN 18]. Also, Defendant Barren River Area Development District filed a motion to dismiss [DN 19] and Defendant Kevin Allen filed a motion to dismiss [DN 20]. Fully briefed, these matters are ripe for decision.

I. BACKGROUND

This case arises out of the fire at Plaintiff's residence on August 1, 2012 and the subsequent demolition of the property on August 3, 2012. The fire started in a vacant building adjacent to Plaintiff's house. Plaintiff Michael Stewart had lived in the house, located at 207 S. College Street, Franklin, Kentucky, since 1994. Following the fire, the City of Franklin condemned the property and razed the building.

Plaintiff alleges that the actions by Defendants City of Franklin, Franklin Police Department, Barren River Area Development District (BRADD), Kevin Allen, and Kenton Powell led to violations of his Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Additionally, Plaintiff asserts claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 42 U.S.C. § 1985 as well as several state law claims.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

A. Lack of Subject-Matter Jurisdiction

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) provides that a party may file a motion asserting "lack of subject-matter jurisdiction." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). "Subject matter jurisdiction is always a threshold determination, " American Telecom Co., L.L.C. v. Republic of Lebanon , 501 F.3d 534, 537 (6th Cir. 2007) (citing Steel Co. v. Citizens for a Better Env't , 523 U.S. 83, 101, 118 S.Ct. 1003, 140 L.Ed.2d 210 (1998)), and "may be raised at any stage in the proceedings, " Schultz v. General R.V. Center , 512 F.3d 754, 756 (6th Cir. 2008). "A Rule 12(b)(1) motion can either attack the claim of jurisdiction on its face, in which case all allegations of the plaintiff must be considered as true, or it can attack the factual basis for jurisdiction, in which case the trial court must weigh the evidence and the plaintiff bears the burden of proving that jurisdiction exists." DLX, Inc. v. Kentucky , 381 F.3d 511, 516 (6th Cir. 2004). "A facial attack on the subject-matter jurisdiction alleged in the complaint questions merely the sufficiency of the pleading." Gentek Bldg. Prods., Inc. v. Sherwin-Williams Co. , 491 F.3d 320, 330 (6th Cir. 2007). "If the court determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3). Here, the Defendants' motions to dismiss raise a Rule 12(b)(1) facial attack on Plaintiffs' jurisdictional allegations. Coxco Realty, LLC v. United States Army Corps of Engineers , 2008 WL 640946, *2 (W.D. Ky. March 4, 2008).

B. Failure to State a Claim

Upon a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), a court "must construe the complaint in the light most favorable to plaintiffs, " League of United Latin Am. Citizens v. Bredesen , 500 F.3d 523, 527 (6th Cir. 2007) (citation omitted), accepting all of the plaintiffs' allegations as true. Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009). Under this standard, the plaintiffs must provide the grounds for their entitlement to relief, which "requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007).

The plaintiffs satisfy this standard only when they "plead[ ] factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 678. A complaint falls short if it pleads facts that are merely "consistent with a defendant's liability" or if the facts do not "permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct." Id. at 678-79. Instead, the allegations must "show[ ] that the pleader is entitled to relief.'" Id. at 679 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).

III. DISCUSSION

The Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated constitutional rights and federal laws by not compensating him and not providing him an opportunity to contest the actions of the government prior to the demolition of his property. Defendants contend that Plaintiff must exhaust state remedies, specifically an inverse condemnation action, before asserting these claims in federal court. As such, Defendants argue that Plaintiff's claims are not ripe, and thus, the Court does not have subject matter jurisdiction.

The Supreme Court in Williamson Cnty. Reg'l Planning Comm'n v. Hamilton Bank , 473 U.S. 172, 195 (1985) held that "if a State provides an adequate procedure for seeking just compensation, the property owner cannot claim a violation of the Just Compensation Clause until it has used the procedure and been denied just compensation." Plaintiff attempts to maneuver around the requirement that he exhaust state remedies by arguing that this case involves a physical taking instead of a regulatory taking, and as a result, Williamson does not apply to the present facts. In reliance on this position, Plaintiff cites to Kruse v. Village of Chagrin Falls , 74 F.3d 694 (6th Cir. 1996), but Kruse has little relevance to Kentucky law and the Sixth Circuit overruled the case in Coles v. Granville , 448 F.3d 853 (6th Cir. 2006). Scotts v. Pierson, 2013 WL 5487342, *21 (S.D. Ohio Sept. 30, 2013) ("[T]he Sixth Circuit expressly overruled Kruse, explaining: [t]oday, ten years after the Kruse decision, this uncertainty has all but disappeared, as the Ohio courts have accepted a mandamus action as the appropriate approach for a plaintiff alleging a taking without just compensation.'"). As opposed to the uncertainty that existed in Ohio as to an appropriate state remedy, "Kentucky provides a cause of action for inverse condemnation when a citizen alleges that his property has been ...


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