Goldman Ismail Wins Reversal Before Sixth Circuit in Detroit Property Tax Lawsuit

On July 11, 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed and remanded for further proceedings in a putative class action asserting claims for violation of due process and unjust enrichment against the City of Detroit, Wayne County, and Michigan tax officials. The lawsuit alleges that Detroit homeowners received untimely, inadequate, and misleading property tax assessment notices in 2017, leaving them unable to appeal their taxes and subject to unconstitutional overassessments, tax delinquencies, and even foreclosures. In reversing the lower court’s dismissal, the Sixth Circuit held that federal courts have jurisdiction over the case because Michigan courts afforded no plain, speedy, and efficient remedy to Plaintiffs. As the Court further explained in its 12-page opinion, “Detroit did not provide certain minimal procedural protections of [Plaintiffs’] due process rights.”

In response to media inquiries following the Court’s ruling, Goldman Ismail attorneys Rami Fakhouri, Sam Schoenburg, and Betsy Farrington (who represent Plaintiffs pro bono) gave the following statement: “All Detroit homeowners deserve the opportunity to be heard. The Sixth Circuit’s ruling confirms what this suit has said all along: the City of Detroit failed to give Detroit homeowners any clear path to appeal their property tax assessments in 2017. We are pleased that a federal court will hear claims regarding Detroit’s untimely and excessive tax notices on the merits, and we look forward to pursuing those claims vigorously upon remand.”

The Sixth Circuit’s opinion is available here. Media coverage of the decision can be found here, here, and here.