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United Artists Theatre Circuit, Inc. v. Township of Warrington

316 F.3d 392 (2003)

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United Artists Theatre Circuit, Inc. v. Township of Warrington

United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

316 F.3d 392 (2003)

Facts

United Artists Theatre Circuit, Incorporated (United Artists) (plaintiff) sought to develop a theater in the Township of Warrington (defendant). Bruce Goodman and Regal Cinema also sought to develop a theater in Warrington. Goodman had agreed to pay an annual impact fee of $100,000 to Warrington, and United Artists had repeatedly refused requests from Warrington’s Board of Supervisors (board) to agree to pay the fee. Notably, the local market could have supported only one theater. In January 1996, United Artists submitted a preliminary plan for its theater to Warrington for approval. Warrington conditioned approval upon the installation of a separate left-turn lane into the theater by United Artists. However, United Artists did not acquire the property required to make the left-turn lane. Subsequently, United Artists indicated to Warrington that it intended to seek a waiver of the condition or sue for relief. United Artists alleged that the condition for a left-turn lane was a pretext for Warrington’s refusal of the application by United Artists out of a desire to obtain the impact fee from Goodman. The board eventually granted preliminary approval of United Artists’ application in March 1997 but tabled the vote on final approval of the application three times and made a request for payment of the impact fee each time. Eventually, the board granted final approval in September 1997. With respect to Goodman’s application for his proposed theater, in February 1997, the board granted preliminary approval one month after Goodman had submitted his initial application. The board granted final approval of Goodman’s application in May 1997. United Artists never built its theater. United Artists filed a substantive-due-process claim and a procedural-due-process claim against Warrington in the district court. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Warrington on the procedural-due-process claim. However, it denied summary judgment on the substantive-due-process claim, opining that there were few differences between the improper-motive standard, which it had employed here, and the shocks-the-conscience standard for such claims. Warrington appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Alito, J.)

Dissent (Cowen, J.)

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