Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Challenge To City's Removal of Cross Dismissed Because of Improper Plaintiffs

In Citizens of Grand Haven v. City of Grand Haven, (MI Cir. Ct., June 9, 2015), a Michigan trial court dismissed a suit that was seeking to require city council to reverse its earlier decision to limit access to Dewey Hill and convert the 48-foot cross on it into a Coast Guard anchor. (See prior posting.) Without getting to the merits of plaintiffs' free speech and religious discrimination claims, the court found that none of the plaintiffs, as named, were proper.  It held that plaintiff "Citizens of Grand Haven" did not qualify as an unincorporated voluntary association since it had no organizational form or decision-making process.  It was merely the group of people who had signed a petition.  The court went on to hold that the individual "John Doe" plaintiffs were not entitled to proceed anonymously.  The court applied a 5-factor test that had previously been developed by the courts for determining when proceeding under a pseudonym is appropriate. MLive reports on the decision.

UPDATE: On June 12, the lawsuit was refiled with named plaintiffs. (MLive 6/15).