Two weeks ago, a federal district court granted the motion to dismiss of Joe Daus, the zoning administrator for Howell Township, Michigan, in a case challenging the township’s billboard regulations.
Crossroads Outdoor is a billboard company that sought to install a sign on property owned by the local American Legion post in Howell Township. The township, through Daus, denied the variance on the grounds that it was not permissible to place the sign in the parking lot of the American Legion. After some back and forth on the application, the township eventually passed a moratorium on new signs in 2018 pending the adoption of a new sign ordinance. Crossroads’s sign application has not yet been approved.
After Crossroads filed suit against the township and Daus, Daus moved for dismissal of the claims against him in his official and individual capacities. The court dismissed the official capacity claims against Daus, since that claim was found to be redundant to the claims against the township under the Supreme Court’s decision in Monell v. Department of Social Services. The court also dismissed the individual claims against Daus, finding that Daus did not engage in content-based enforcement of the township’s sign regulations. The court observed that Daus’s denial of the sign permit was based on the location of the permit, and not the content of the sign. The court also dismissed a Fourteenth Amendment substantive due process claim against Daus, finding that Crossroads lacked a protected property interest in its application.