Articles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

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Nearly 20 years after defendants built, sold, and leased back a Rockport Indiana coal-burning power plant, they committed, in a consent decree resolving lawsuits involving alleged Clean Air Act violations at their other power plants, to either make over a billion dollars of emission control improvements to the plant, or shut it down. The sale and leaseback arrangement was a means of financing construction. Defendants then obtained a modification to the consent decree providing that these improvements need not be made until after their lease expired, pushing their commitments to improve the air quality of the plant’s emissions to the plaintiff, the investors who had financed construction and who would own the plant after the 33-year lease term. The district court held this encumbrance did not violate the parties’ contracts governing the sale and leaseback, and that plaintiff’s breach of contract claims precluded it from maintaining an alternative cause of action for breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing. The Sixth Circuit reversed, holding that a Permitted Lien exception in the lease unambiguously supports the plaintiff’s position and that the defendants’ actions “materially adversely affected’ plaintiff’s interests. View "Wilmington Trust Co. v. AEP Generating Co." on Justia Law

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Between 2012 and 2014, three University of Michigan students (plaintiffs) rented rooms from Alawi, which collected $2550 in security deposits from the three. When they moved out, they received their security deposits back, minus small deductions for minor damages to the properties. Plaintiffs believed that Alawi had not complied with Michigan law, which requires landlords to deposit security deposits in a regulated financial institution and to provide the address of that institution to the tenant. The plaintiffs sued Alawi for $6.6 million on behalf of a putative class of six years’ worth of tenants, alleging violations of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and Michigan law; alleging that Alawi was not entitled to hold security deposits at all (given these alleged breaches of Michigan law), and that knowingly taking security deposits anyway constituted a pattern of federal wire, mail, and bank fraud. The Sixth Circuit affirmed dismissal, finding that the plaintiffs lacked standing to bring the RICO claim. The complaint failed to articulate any concrete injury; its allegations were too vague to meet the particularity requirement of fraud allegations under Civil Rule 9(b). View "Wall v. Michigan Rental" on Justia Law

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In 2009-2010, eight tenants were evicted from their respective homes for alleged violations of the Lansing Housing and Premises Code. Each eviction followed an inspection of the buildings conducted in conjunction with criminal drug investigations. Each inspector summarized his findings in an eviction “red-tag” notice form, which he gave to the tenant; none of the red-tags provided any information regarding the right to appeal and have an administrative hearing. Each stated: “You must contact the undersigned, no later than ... to set up an appointment to meet at the structure (to verify that all corrections have been completed) or to acquire an authorized extension. Before the re-inspection you must obtain all required permits and have those repairs inspected .... If you have any questions or concerns about complying within the time indicated, you may contact ….” None of the tenants filed an appeal within the 20-day period prescribed by the code. They later filed suit. The Sixth Circuit reversed the district court’s denial of the Inspectors’ qualified immunity defense with respect to the constitutional adequacy of the notice. Sixth Circuit precedent did not clearly establish that a notice of eviction must include a direct explanation of the post-deprivation appeals process. View "Gardner v. Evans" on Justia Law