Loesel v. City of Frankenmuth

692 F.3d 452 (2012)

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Loesel v. City of Frankenmuth

United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
692 F.3d 452 (2012)

Facts

The Loesels (plaintiffs) owned land zoned by the City of Frankenmuth (the city) (defendant) as Commercial Local Planned Unit Development (CL-PUD). The Wal-Mart Real Estate Business Trust (Wal-Mart) contracted to buy the Loesels’ property so that it could build a supercenter. After learning of the contract, city officials enacted an ordinance restricting the size of new buildings on CL-PUD property to a maximum of 65,000 square feet, causing Wal-Mart to withdraw. The Loesels sued the city, arguing that the newly enacted ordinance violated their right to equal protection. The Loesels proceeded under a class-of-one theory, arguing that, in enacting the ordinance, the city had singled them out for discrimination. At trial, the parties presented conflicting expert testimony concerning the suitability of the Loesels’ property for a big-box retail store as well as the city’s treatment of other similarly situated landowners. In support of their claim that the city’s decision was motivated by animus, the Loesels presented evidence that the city had failed to invite them to the city-council meeting at which the ordinance was discussed. The jury found for the Loesels and awarded $3.6 million in damages. The trial court did not require the jury to identify which of the Loesels’ theories of liability had formed the basis for the verdict. The city appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Gilman, J.)

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