MOUNT PLEASANT — The Village of Mount Pleasant wants a lawsuit filed over land acquisition for Foxconn Technology Group’s manufacturing development dismissed.
Twelve homeowners filed a federal lawsuit against the village and its president Jan. 8, claiming they were not receiving the same treatment as other people who will lose their property in relation to the Foxconn project. The village’s request, filed Tuesday, makes a variety of arguments, including that the plaintiffs’ complaints come too early for a court to play a role.
The property owners allege that Mount Pleasant plans to use eminent domain to take their land. Other people, they argue, are receiving seven to 10 times the fair-market value of their property so that thee village can take the land for Foxconn’s liquid crystal display panel manufacturing campus. The road and utility expansions for which the plaintiffs’ property is expected to be taken would not occur if not for Foxconn, the homeowners say. They argue they should receive the same treatment as the other property owners.
The approach created two classes of people, they argue.
“For reasons which are irrational and wholly arbitrary, namely that the plaintiffs’ properties abut roads, the plaintiffs have not been offered option packages, wherefore, the plaintiffs have been discriminated against, denied due process, and denied the equal protection of the laws,” the complaint states.
The property owners also complained that they were deprived the proper decision-making process about how Foxconn could affect the environment because of the exemptions the company was granted.
The village, represented by Alan Marcuvitz of the law firm von Briesen & Roper, argues the plaintiffs’ claims are problematic and should be dismissed. The eminent domain process has neither started nor finished, according to the court filings.
“This lawsuit is not based on the notion that the procedures of that statute were not followed or were defectively implemented,” Marcuvitz argued for the defendants. “Instead, it seeks to avoid them entirely, having this court take on the entire role of a state administrative and judicial process.”
If the court will not dismiss the claim, the defense requested it pause proceedings so that the lawsuit does not interfere with the eminent domain process.
The plaintiffs cannot state a claim on the basis of potential environmental harm that has not occurred and isn’t imminent, the defense claims. Marcuvitz also argued that those complaints should have been directed at the state and that they belong in state court.
The defense also asked for the claims against Village President Dave DeGroot to be dismissed, stating that he is entitled to immunity for his actions. A claim against him would require the property owners to show he violated “clearly established statutory or constitutional rights” while acting in his capacity.
“Plaintiffs’ sole allegation is that Mr. DeGroot was acting under ‘color of state law,’ ” the filing states. “Of course he was — that was his position. If stating that a public official or employee acted under color of state law is sufficient to state a claim against that person, the concept of qualified immunity would be meaningless.”
Marcuvitz further argues that other parties should have been named as defendants in the case, because challenges to the development agreement would affect “unavoidably” affect them. Racine County, SIO International Wisconsin Inc., FEWI Development Corp. and AFE Inc., also are part of the development agreement but are not named as defendants.
If the lawsuit proceeds, according to the defense, other parties should be subject to the litigation and are entitled to due process.
"Plaintiffs’ sole allegation is that Mr. DeGroot was acting under 'color of state law.' Of course he was — that was his position. If stating that a public official or employee acted under color of state law is sufficient to state a claim against that person, the concept of qualified immunity would be meaningless."
Defendants' brief in support of motion to dismiss or stay proceedings
"For reasons which are irrational and wholly arbitrary, namely that the plaintiffs' properties abut roads, the plaintiffs have not been offered option packages, wherefore, the plaintiffs have been discriminated against, denied due process, and denied the equal protection of the laws."
Lawsuit against Mount Pleasant