RLUIPA, passed by a unanimous Congress in 2000 and signed into law by President Clinton, was proposed and enacted by Congress in response to actions taken by local government to exclude houses of worship within communities.

Churches traditionally located in residential areas and the model was the same throughout the United States: a high steeple, a large seating area, a choir loft, a meeting area and lots and lots of stain glass windows.  Fast forward to 2008 and the traditional model of Church has disappeared. We now see Churches located in former basketball arenas, strip center malls, industrial parks and in the center of towns and villages where offices and industry once were located. Churches are becoming more accessible to their attendees and members than ever before. 

Many communities have not embraced the new Church locations and have used zoning to exclude or limit the use of land available for religious use. This is based on two reasons. First, many communities are hostile to religious organizations as they are not required, by state law, to pay property taxes. Second, many communities remain unreceptive to any religious organization and do their best to discourage them.

Zoning, the legal authority granted to local governments from a state through its constitution and enabling legislation that gives a community the ability to regulate the use of land within its boundaries, generally consists of a map showing how the different areas of a community are used, establish land uses permitted in each district and a series of specific standards governing lot size, building height, and required yard and setback provisions. They also set forth a series of procedures for administering and applying the zoning ordinance.

A nearly unanimous Congress passed RLUIPA to level the playing field allowing religious uses in other areas of communities when it enacted the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”) 42 USC 2000cc. This law, cosponsored by Senators Hatch and Kennedy, two political leaders at the opposite end of the political spectrum, was Congress’ response to the Supreme Court’s decision in City of Boerne v. Flores, 521 U.S. 507 (1997), where the Court ruled that Congress, in enacting a  predecessor religious land use law, exceeded its enforcement power under Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment by “contradict[ing] vital principles necessary to maintain separation of powers and the federal balance.” City of Boerne, 521 U.S. at 536. 

Congress enacted RLUIPA with five separate causes of action for religious discrimination. They are:

1.  Substantial Burden. Congress provided that “No government shall impose or implement a land use regulation in a manner that imposes a substantial burden on the religious exercise of a person, including a religious assembly or institution, unless the government demonstrates the imposition of the burden on that person, assembly or institution is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest. 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000cc (a)(1) and (2)(c).

2.  Equal Terms.  No government shall impose or implement a land use regulation in a manner that treats a religious assembly or institution on less than equal terms with a nonreligious assembly or institution. 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc (b)(1).

3.  Nondiscrimination. No government shall impose or implement a land use regulation that discriminates against any assembly or institution on the basis of religion or religious denomination. 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc (b)(2).

4.  Exclusions.  No government shall impose or implement a land use regulation that totally excludes religious assemblies from a jurisdiction42 U.S.C. §§ 2000cc (b)(3)(A)

5. Unreasonable limitations. No government shall impose or implement a land use regulation that unreasonably limits religious assemblies, institutions, or structures within a jurisdiction.  42 U.S.C. §§ 2000cc (b)(3)(B).

Congress also provided for damages and injunctive relief as a remedy for violation of RLUIPA, along with intervention from the Department of Justice to remedy religious discrimination in zoning ordinances. Congress mandated a broad interpretation of the Act as RLUIPA should be interpreted “in favor of a broad protection of religious exercise, to the maximum extent permitted by the terms of RLUIPA and the Constitution” and the “use, building, or conversion of real property for the purpose of religious exercise shall be considered to be religious exercise of the person or entity that uses or intends to use the property for that purpose.”  Finally, Congress defined a “land use regulation” as “a zoning or land marking law, or the application of such a law, that limits or restricts a claimant’s use or development of land (including a structure affixed to land), if the claimant has an ownership, leasehold, easement, servitude, or other property interest in the regulated land or a contract or option to acquire such an interest.” 

While RLUIPA is a relatively new law, it has had a positive impact for religious entities throughout the United States.  

Regards,  Dan

Last week, the Eastern District of Michigan granted a Motion for Temporary Restraining Order filed by Dalton & Tomich  on behalf of Planet Aid, a nonprofit organization that operates clothing and shoe donation collection bins. Under the restraining order, Ypsilanti Township is prohibited from enforcing a decades-old ordinance to completely...

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April 13, 2014

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Homeowners Association FAQ

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When going to work for a new employer, many new employees agree to a noncompetition contract. For many employers, such a contract is standard procedure for bringing on new talent, especially for workers with specialized and sought-after skills. Many workers sign noncompetition contracts without much thought on the matter. However,...

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By Daniel P. Dalton
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As reported in today's Governing magazine, a proposal has been floated in the legislature allowing students to attend college for free if they agree to pay a fixed percentage of future income for a number of years taht woudl pay other students college biils.  A version of the pay-it-forward tuition...

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The challenge to Michigan’s bans on same-sex adoption and same-sex marriage will continue today in federal court in Detroit. This week will begin the testimony of Michigan’s witnesses. U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman is tasked with determining whether Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban will be the most recent in a number...

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On Tuesday, February 18, 2014 we will be arguing a Motion for Preliminary Injunction and opposing a Motion to Dismiss in a landmark religious land use case in the United States District Court, Middle District, Jacksonville, Florida. The Church of Our Savior, located in Jacksonville Beach, Florida was founded in...

The New Economy Initiative has announced a second round of funding that will benefit innovative companies in Detroit.  As initially reported by Sherri Welch, in Crain’s Detroit Business, February 2, 2014, the New Economy Initiative (NEI) plans to target innovation and entrepreneurship in its second round.   NEI receives its funding...

The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan recently ruled that a civil rights claim against Clinton Township was barred by the statute of limitations and could not be rescued by the continuing violations doctrine. This decision underscores the importance of being prompt with the filing of...

On January 2, 2014, the IRS released a new Revenue Procedure that serves as a huge help for many small nonprofits who previously had their tax-exempt status revoked for failing to file tax returns for three consecutive years. In 2006, there was a change in law that required all exempt...

Endowments and the Church

By Daniel P. Dalton
January 19, 2014

Generally, a religious or charitable endowment is a long-term and permanent management device for the investment and distribution of significant amounts of money and capital-generating assets. As a permanent entity with a board of directors serving general religious or charitable purposes it may be managed as a trust or a...

Lawrence Opalewski joins Dalton & Tomich, PLC

By Zana Tomich
January 13, 2014

Dalton & Tomich PLC welcomes Lawrence Opalewski as an attorney with the firm.  Larry is a talented and energetic attorney who we are excited to welcome to the team.  He will focus his practice on land use litigation, business and banking law. Larry received his law degree from the University...

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Our Commitment to you in 2014!

By Daniel P. Dalton
January 01, 2014

As we enter the New Year, we want to take a moment to thank you for being with us in 2013. In addition, we look forward to working with you in 2014.  Last year, we recommitted to our clients to provide the highest quality, ethical and timely legal advice to...

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) provides that insurance companies who offer Qualified Health Plans (QHPs) through the federal Health Benefit Exchange must meet a wide range of regulatory requirements. Final regulations were published in the Federal Register on October 30, 2013 regarding the appeal rights of insurance companies after ACA...

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently issued a bulletin, CFPB Bulletin 2013-12, to provide guidance in implementing some of the 2013 Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) and Truth in Lending Act (TILA) Servicing Final Rules.  As the end of the year approaches, it should be noted that the...

It has been a busy couple of weeks around the nation for religious organizations, as there have been a number of land use cases under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”) making their way through the courts and local zoning boards.  Three weeks ago we highlighted the...

Dalton & Tomich attorneys have helped secure a legal settlement that allows their client, a non-profit recovery center in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, to provide long-term housing for single mothers recovering from addiction. Lighthouse Rescue Mission provides housing, treatment, and Christian-based religious services to single mothers who are in recovery from addiction...

Open for business in Detroit!

By Daniel P. Dalton
November 10, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE    Contact:  Justin Fisette and Don Tanner 248.626.0006 November 11, 2013                      Dalton & Tomich plc Moves to downtown Detroit Firm relocates to historic Chrysler House in heart of city’s Central Business District DETROIT, Mich., - The Bloomfield Hills-based...

Elected!

By Daniel P. Dalton
November 06, 2013

We believe that everyone has a responsibility to serve the communities they live though volunteering on community boards,  helping with community events and being a part of the places that we live, work and play. Yesterday I was elected to serve as a City Commissioner for the City of Plymouth,...

A recent decision from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals found that a Wisconsin town did not violate RLUIPA when it refused to allow a year-round Bible camp to operate in a single-family residential area. In Eagle Cove Camp & Conference Center, Inc. v. Town of Woodboro, Wisconsin, No. 3:10-cv-00118 (7th...

A recent decision from the Michigan Court of Appeals reaffirms an age-old adage most of learn early on:  If it is something important, such as a contract, better to get it in writing.  And when you are working for one of the Big Three, that writing probably should be a...

As reported in Reuters this morning, the SEC has released  the new crowd funding rules in light of the "Jumpstart our Business Startups Act" of 2012.  The news report indicates  that: "The Securities and Exchange Commission's crowd funding plan is a requirement in the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, a...

News & Happenings

By Zana Tomich
October 14, 2013

Kate Brink was recently accepted to participate in the Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association’s Inn of Court mentorship program. The program involves monthly, team-led presentations that address a variety of issues related to the practice of law. She is looking forward to meeting and learning from all of the participating attorneys...

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has become the most recent court to issue a decision addressing a private business’s challenge to the contraceptive coverage mandate of the Affordable Care Act when it released its opinion in Autocam Corp. v. Sebelius, No. 12-2673 (6th Cir. Sept. 17, 2013). Autocam is...

A bad online review in 2011’s “Dirtiest Hotel” drove the owner of the hotel to file his own complaint against the creator of the dirtiest list, TripAdvisor, for lost business.  However, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals gave the hotel owner’s complaint a bad review of its own last week,...

Collection Bin Removal Lawsuit

By Daniel P. Dalton
September 23, 2013

Dalton & Tomich plc is honored to represent St. Vincent DePaul Society and Planet Aid in its legal action agains the Houston, Texas company, ATRS, who, improperly removed collection bins of both charities.  As reported in Crains Detroit Business on Sunday, September 23, 2013: "The Society of St. Vincent de Paul...

A recent 6th Circuit Court of appeals opinion, Boaz v. FedEx Customer Information Services, reversed a federal district court ruling that upheld a contractual limitations provision in an employee’s employment agreement with an employer barred her claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act and Equal Pay Act.  Statute of limitations...

A Missouri federal district court last week found that a church’s claims that its religious exercise rights were violated when the City of St. Louis shut down and evacuated the church’s tent used to offer religious services to homeless persons last year without a hearing could move forward. In New...

Understanding the Fair Housing Act

By Daniel P. Dalton
September 01, 2013

The Fair Housing Act provides that it is unlawful: To … make unavailable or deny a dwelling to any person because of race, color, religion, sex, familial status or national origin. (b) To discriminate against any person…in the provision of services or facilities in connection therewith, because of race, color,...

Milestones

By Daniel P. Dalton
August 23, 2013

All of us have had significant milestones in our careers. Three years ago today,  Zana Tomich and I took the step of starting a new law firm, birthed out of a prior law partnership, and opened an office in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.  We opened the firm with the goal to...

A recent decision from the First Circuit Court of Appeals showed how important it is for religious organizations claiming a government has violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”) to exhaust their administrative remedies before heading to court.  In Roman Catholic Bishop of Springfield v. City of...

Craigslist “Bachelor Pad” Ad Leads to FHA Claim

By Administrator
August 05, 2013

A decision today from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals might give some landlords pause in how they word their next Craigslist post advertising an apartment for rent. In Miami Valley Fair Housing Center v. The Connor Group, the plaintiff brought suit after the defendant had posted an ad on...

Since 2008, several Presbyterian Church’s have left, or attempted to leave, the main denomination of Presbyterian Church (PC (USA)) over theological issues. While the Book of Order lays out some general ideas about the dissolution process, as well as what to make of church property, the Presbyterian Church has made...

Michigan Business Courts Have Arrived

By Zana Tomich
July 25, 2013

By September 1, 2013, the Michigan Circuit Courts will implement Michigan Public Act 333 (2012), which requires business courts in every Michigan county with at least three circuit judges. Some Circuit Courts are already operating their Business Courts, including Oakland and Macomb County. The act mandates that cases between business...

Getting involved in a lawsuit is a time consuming, frustrating and often confusing process.  The court system is not viewed as being "user friendly," and the terminology, forms and what seem to be "picky" rules are often viewed as traps rather than a means of getting to an end -...

Endowments and the Church - A Primer

By Daniel P. Dalton
July 19, 2013

Endowments have been in the news recently with respect to religious institutions invading the principal to sustain their ministries. So what is an endowment and in general, what rules need to be followed with respect to them? Endowments are permanent funds or assets—money, securities, or property—bestowed upon an individual or...

A recent case from Macomb County demonstrates the harsh consequences that may result for individuals who fail to comply with private neighborhood deed restrictions. The dispute surrounds a 9,000 square foot, $900,000 Washington Township home built approximately ten years ago by Simon and Saca Palushaj. The home contains a tennis...

In an opinion announced Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court found that a landowner had a valid takings claim based upon the government’s refusal to grant a land use permit unless the applicant made a disproportionate cash payment to the permitting agency.  In Koontz v. St. Johns River, the Supreme Court...

Michigan’s foreclosure bill package passed the Senate and House and will be presented to the Governor for signature in the days to come. The foreclosure bill package will likely be signed since the existing foreclosure prevention law sunsets on June 30, 2013. The bills are expected to accomplish the following:...

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals last week affirmed that a universal truism applies to offers you might receive from a debt collection company to consolidate your debt payments:  If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  In Bowie v. Clear Your Debt, LLC, the court affirmed...

Catholic dioceses around the nation, as well as in Detroit and Saginaw in Michigan, are moving to close parishes and merge others in order to streamline operations and save money in the face of a significant decrease in attendance.  However, while traditional courts of law are unlikely to intervene, aggrieved...

Cities Begin to Box Out Donation Collection Bins

By Administrator
June 10, 2013

It is about to get a little harder to find a collection bin where you can make a donation to those in need. Across Michigan and in a number of other states local governments are putting increased restrictions on the placement of donation collection bins – the omnipresent metal bins...

A recent decision in Muslim Community Association v. Pittsfield, Township, Case No. 12-10893 (May 22, 2013) (US DC ED SD Mich) (Duggan, J.) addresses the interesting issue of absolute legislative and qualified immunity of elected officials in the context of religious land use case. By way of background, the Plaintiff sought re-zoning...

Interested in learing more about religious land use and zoning?   Dan Dalton will be presenting a webinar for the Federal Bar Association on the topic.  Click here to register and learn more: http://www.benchmarkemail.com/c/v?e=2E2CE9&c=39A70&l=2093167&email=JuzqispEhFg0xCa5R4MLiXeq%2BwoAh5FONyIeD9VsXLU%3D&relid=C6EC15A...

A federal court in Texas has determined that a local ordinance that restricted when and where a number of religious organizations could temporarily serve meals to homeless persons as part of the organizations’ ministry violated the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“TRFRA”). In an opinion dated March 25 and publicized...

In a decision last week from the Eastern District of California, the Court dismissed a RLUIPA claim asserted by a ranch owner who was prohibited from building a private chapel on his property, finding that his claim was not ripe for review. In Anselmo v. County of Shasta, Civ. 2:12-361...

Speaking about Land Use and Zoning

By Daniel P. Dalton
May 06, 2013

In the past five days, I have been in Nashville, Tennessee and Scottsdale, Arizona speaking to attorneys about land use and zoning litigation.  In general, most attorneys who practice in this area of the law have seen a modest upswing in development from both a commercial and a residential side....

A recent Michigan Court of Appeals opinion has caught the attention of lenders and developers alike. In Wells Fargo Bank NA v. Cherryland Mall Limited, ___ Mich App___ Case No. 304682 (April 9, 2013), the Court on remand from the Michigan Supreme Court, rejected the constitutionality challenges to Michigan's NonRecourse...

The final chapter has been written and the story has ended with the City of San Diego finalizing the settlement between itself and the Academy of Our Lady of Peace this past week.  Several news organizations have taken an indepth review of the case and reported its findings.  A thorough...

A federal court in Missouri last week upheld a state statute that restricted when and where protesters could demonstrate in the areas immediately surrounding houses of worship. In an opinion dated April 19, Senior Judge E. Richard Webber of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri held...

Last week, the Sixth Circuit reversed a decision from the Eastern District of Michigan which held that a church lacked standing to challenge police investigations into complaints about noise violations from the church during services, concerts and rehearsals. In Faith Baptist Church v. Waterford Township, Faith Baptist held youth religious...

What is the Zoning Board of Appeals in Michigan?

By Daniel P. Dalton
April 06, 2013

So what does the Zoning Board of Appeals do?  Having been appointed to the City of Plymouth Zoning Board of Appeals, I was asked the question and had to think a moment about the answer.  A Zoning Board of Appeals hears appeals, evaluates requests for interpretations and approves or denies...

The Service Members Civil Relief Act (SCRA), recently expanded, is a federal law that provides protections for military members entering into service, called to active duty, or deployed service members. It is intended to postpone or suspend certain civil obligations to enable service members to devote full attention to duty...

This week promises to drive much attention to the U.S. Supreme Court, as the nine justices will hear oral arguments Tuesday and Wednesday on a pair of same-sex marriage cases that have drawn the eyes and ears of legal observers across the country. On Tuesday, the justices will hear oral...

Last week, Judge Lawrence Zatkoff of the Eastern District of Michigan ruled in favor of Domino’s Pizza founder Tom Monaghan and his secular property management company, Domino’s Farms Corporation, and blocked the enforcement of the Obama administration’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ACA”). Monaghan v. Sebelius, 12-15488 (E.D. Mich....

Trademark Infringement claims

By Daniel P. Dalton
March 13, 2013

How does a party prevail on a claim of trademark infringement action? A party must establish that it has a valid mark entitled to protection; and that the infringing party used the same or a similar mark in commerce in connection with the sale or advertising of goods or services...

Bank Not Liable for Altered Appraisal

By Zana Tomich
March 06, 2013

A recent Michigan Court of the Appeals case, Xpress Apraisal Group, Inc v. Flagstar Bank, (unpublished February 14, 2013), found a Bank was not liable for an altered real estate appraisal, which resulted in a third party’s refusal to continue doing business with Plaintiffs. The case stems from facts surrounding...

The Fracking Debate in Michigan

By Kate Brink
February 28, 2013

An interesting – and somewhat controversial – land use issue that is currently being addressed by many Michigan officials is a technique known as “fracking.” Fracking, a slang term for hydraulic fracturing, is a method of extracting oil and natural gas from beneath the earth’s surface by utilizing underground hydraulic...

As reported in today's San Diego Tribune and San Diego Reader the City of San Diego has dropped its opposition to the modernization plan of the Academy of Our Lady of Peace.  The settlement combines cash payment, permits and relocation of homes The Academy of Our Lady of Peace (AOLP) has settled its...

Last week, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Islamic Center of North Fulton, Inc. v. City of Alpharetta, Georgia, that the City and Islamic Center must work together to try to resolve a zoning dispute surrounding the Islamic Center’s proposed expansion of its facilities. This ruling came after...

RLUIPA and the Individual Mandate Cases

By Daniel P. Dalton
February 12, 2013

One more place to look for help in understanding what a “substantial burden” is within the context of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act is the nearly fifty individual mandate cases presently being litigated throughout the United States.  The Patient Protection and...

The Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled that a title company owed at least a common law duty, and perhaps more, to plaintiffs who had contracted to have a home built. In Elsebaei v. Seaver Title Co., Inc. (unpublished, December 27, 2012), Plaintiffs contracted with a construction company to have...

What is New in Land Use and Zoning

By Daniel P. Dalton
February 01, 2013

With the economy turning around, developers are beginning to feel more comfortable in starting new projects and lenders are more willing to lend on commercial development.  New commercial development impacts local zoning regulations, which, may result in federal lawsuit when a local community allows a lawful use to proceed.  Late...

Court of Appeals Finds Valid Highway by User Claim

By Administrator
January 29, 2013

In a significant decision from the Michigan Court of Appeals, a Mecosta County couple established a successful “highway by user” claim that turned what was previously the private property of the defendant outside Big Rapids into a public roadway. In Farlow v. Grunst, the plaintiffs sought a court ruling that...

As the number of religious liberty cases being filed in the U.S. continues to increase, Stanford Law School recently announced that it will be the first law school in the country to offer its students a legal clinic exclusively devoted to religious freedom cases. Thanks in part to a $1.6...

Daniel P. Dalton, co-founder of the law firm Dalton & Tomich, plc, has been named as a “2013 Top Rated Lawyer in Land Use and Zoning,” by American Lawyer Media, and will be recognized in the March issue of the American Lawyer & Corporate Counsel magazine. American Lawyer Media teamed...

A recent federal court decision allowed an Islamic congregation to go forward with religious land use discrimination claims against a county in Illinois. In Islamic Center of Western Suburbs v. County of DuPage, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 179042 (N.D. Ill. Dec. 18, 2012), the Islamic Center purchased land, zoned single-family...

A Tough Day for Takings claims in the Supreme Court

By Daniel P. Dalton
January 15, 2013

As reported in SCOTUS blog today, http://www.scotusblog.com/2013/01/argument-recap-an-ever-shrinking-takings-claim/, the chance for a new day in Takings law appears to have dimmed based on the questions posed at oral argument in Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District. In the highly anticipated case, the issue of whether a Taking under the...

Many organizations establish in there by-laws that the Board of Directors must use Robert’s Rules of Order as its parliamentary authority to conduct meetings and do the business of the company, non-profit or religious organization.   Because of this, it is very important to recognize and follow the revised 11th edition of Robert’s...

Another Ripeness decision on RLUIPA claims

By Daniel P. Dalton
January 11, 2013

A case from the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of New York provides a thorough yet straightforward blueprint of what is needed for establishing ripeness for a RLUIPA claim. In Twersky v. Town of Hempstead, Plaintiffs were the co-owners of a burial plot in a cemetery in the...

A Rare Win for a Takings Claim in the Supreme Court

By Daniel P. Dalton
January 10, 2013

In a case of first impression, and a rare case where a party asserting a Takings Claim prevailed, the Supreme Court of the United States recently held that flooding caused by governmental conduct amounts to a temporary taking under the Takings Clause. In Arkansas Game & Fish Comm'n v. United States,...

RLUIPA update

By Daniel P. Dalton
January 09, 2013

The annual Religious Land Use and Institutional Persons Act update in the Urban Lawyer, the National Journal on State and Local Government Law, published by  the University of Misouri-Kansas City School of Law, has been released for publication. Every year I publish an update of the law identifying trends, significant cases and related issues...

The Substantive Due Process problem

By Daniel P. Dalton
January 08, 2013

It is a commonly-held belief that claims of substantive and procedural due process are particularly difficult to win in modern courts. Today’s discussion explores a case which certainly illustrates that even the most dishonest and unsettling government actions may still not support a claim of deprivation of due process. The...

Mortgage Modification Law Extended

By Zana Tomich
January 06, 2013

The Michigan Mortgage Modification law, MCL 600.3205a to 600.3205d, which was set to sunset on December 31, 2012 was renewed for six more months by the Michigan legislature. The Mortgage Modification law provides a 90-day time frame in which delinquent mortgage borrowers can work with their lender to modify the...

The Mosque at Ground Zero

By Daniel P. Dalton
December 24, 2012

A lawsuit seeking damages from the planned construction of a mosque and Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero was dismissed from New York State Court in November. Plaintiff Vincent Forras (who rents office space about 8-10 blocks away from the site) claimed to represent “himself and all others of and...

Who can file a RLUIPA case?

By Daniel P. Dalton
December 17, 2012

The US District Court for the District of Maine recently affirmed the decision of a magistrate judge which granted the dismissal of a claim brought under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). In Cassidy v. City of Brewer, Plaintiff apparently was a landlord who brought suit on...

A Rare Win for a Substantive Due Process land use claim

By Daniel P. Dalton
December 10, 2012

In a notable case recently decided by the Michigan Court of Appeals, a local land use ordinance was found to violate both the substantive and procedural due process rights of property owners. In Bonner v. City of Brighton, the court held that Brighton Code of Ordinances (BCO) Section 18-59 violates...

A new Michigan Court Rule governing appeals from zoning ordinance determinations should bring some clarity to the land use and zoning appeals procedure. MCR 7.122, which became effective May 1, 2012, provides a set of guidelines for appealing decisions of an entity empowered with making decisions pursuant to local zoning...

A recent decision by the Supreme Court of the United States has firmly established that a plaintiff who is awarded an injunction but no monetary damages is in fact a “prevailing party,” and is eligible to receive appropriate attorney fees.awarded an injunction but no monetary damages is in fact a...

A recent decision by the Michigan Court of Appeals provided some relief to the financial services industry by holding that a first mortgage of record has priority over a later recorded lien to secure unpaid condominium dues, even though the mortgage was assigned after the lien was recorded.   In Coventry...

A new twist on zoning agricultural land

By Daniel P. Dalton
November 02, 2012

In a case decided October 17, 2012, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled, among other things, that protection of agriculture was a legitimate reason to deny a re-zoning application that had actually been agreed to by an earlier court order. The court also ruled that the County Board in...

Congratulations to Academy of Our Lady of Peace, and Dalton & Tomich attorneys as they secure a $1.1 Million jury verdict against the City of San Diego.   After a two week trial in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California in San Diego, the jury found that...

Congratulations to Katharine Brink as her article, “Neglecting Due Process Rights of Immigrants In the Southwest United States: A Critique of Operation Streamline” was recently published in the University of Detroit Mercy Law Review, Volume 89, Issue Three, Spring 2012.  Well done!...

The attorneys of Dalton & Tomich begin a federal jury trial in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California in San Diego Tuesday in a suit that pits their client, an all-girls Catholic high school, against the City of San Diego. The Academy of Our Lady of...

On September 20, the Michigan Court of Appeals in Kalkman v. City of Village of Douglas affirmed a trial court’s ruling that found a city liable for a compensatory taking when it issued a stop work order on a project that had already been approved by the City’s zoning administrator...

In yet another victory for religious land use freedom, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that a federal district court in Mississippi abused its discretion when it denied a church’s motion for a preliminary injunction in an action brought under the United States Constitution and the Religious Land...

The City of San Leandro, California has agreed to a settlement agreement in which it will pay the International Church of Foursquare Gospel $2.3 million in order to end its five-year litigation with the Church. The case had worked its way through the Ninth Circuit and even reached the United...

On September 24, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a 2010 decision that found a New York town violated the constitutional rights of a Pentecostal church that owned property in the Town, effectively ending the fourteen-year saga between the parties. In 1998, Fortress Bible Church purchased a 6.5 acre...

Recent changes to Michigan’s Power of Attorney laws, require a Durable Power of Attorney drafted after October 1, 2012, to have the designated attorney or agent to execute an acknowledgment of legal responsibilities before exercising authority under each individual durable power of attorney.  The statute recommends the following form:  ...

Dan Dalton and Zana Tomich named to Super Lawyers 2012

By Administrator
September 18, 2012

Dan Dalton was recently named as a 2012 Super Lawyer in Land Use and Zoning, while Zana Tomich was named a Super Lawyers Rising Star in Business/Corporate.  Super Lawyers is an annual publication that showcases and recognizes attorneys for their professional achievements and demonstrates that they are well regarded by...

Level One Bank is to acquire Oxford Bank

By Daniel P. Dalton
September 16, 2012

  Congratulations to our client, Level One Bank for its acquistion of Oxford Bank. As reported in Crain's Detroit Business: Farmington Hills-based Level One Bancorp Inc. announced Thursday afternoon that it has entered into an agreement to buy the stock of Oxford Bank Corp. (OTCBB: OXBC), the oldest bank in Oakland...

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled recently that the City of Frankenmuth did not violate the constitutional rights of a property owner who was trying to sell property to Walmart before the City intentionally wrote an ordinance that excluded large businesses. In Loesel v. City of Frankenmuth, the plaintiffs...

Ripeness and RLUIPA

By Daniel P. Dalton
September 10, 2012

An August 2012 opinion out of the Southern District of Ohio provides a recent warning to all churches in the midst of the land use and zoning process not to ignore the specifics of local zoning law from the outset as you go about plans to purchase or update existing...

San Diego – The Honorable Cathy Ann Bencivengo, United States District Court Judge for the Southern District of California, has set a trial date of October 9, 2012 in the case of Academy of Our Lady of Peace v. City of San Diego, a precedent-setting religious land use and zoning case. ...

A federal judge has granted a Temporary Restraining Order in favor of a Mosque in Tennessee. In United States v. Rutherford County, the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro and the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department both filed lawsuits against Rutherford County, Tennessee. The dispute arose out of a...

The Michigan Court of Appeals recently affirmed a decision by the Oakland County Circuit Court that a Plaintiff who defaulted on her mortgage, did not have standing to challenge the foreclosure proceedings after the redemption period expired.  The Plaintiff in Sagmani v. Lending Associates LLC, unpublished opinion per curiam of...

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