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Mensie v. City of Little Rock

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

February 28, 2019

Kimberly Mensie Plaintiff - Appellant
v.
City of Little Rock Defendant-Appellee

          Submitted: September 27, 2018

          Appeal from United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas - Western Division

          Before COLLOTON, GRUENDER, and GRASZ, Circuit Judges.

          GRASZ, CIRCUIT JUDGE.

         Kimberly Mensie sued the City of Little Rock (the "City") after it denied her applications for rezoning to open a beauty salon in a residential neighborhood. Mensie alleges the City discriminated against her on the basis of race and treated her differently from other salon operators in violation of the U.S. Constitution. The district court[1] granted summary judgment to the City, and we affirm.

         I. Background

         In 2007, Mensie purchased a house at 310 North Van Buren Street in Little Rock, Arkansas, intending to live there and also operate a beauty salon from the premises. At the time, Mensie did not realize the property was designated only for "Single Family" use under the City's Land Use Plan and zoning ordinance. The house was located on the middle of the block between B Street to the south and C Street to the north. Under the City's Land Use Plan, everything along North Van Buren Street from B to G Streets was designated for Single Family use. There was an area zoned for Single Family and Suburban Office just south of B Street and an area zoned for Commercial and Office uses about two blocks south of Mensie's house at the intersection of North Van Buren and West Markham Streets. However, Mensie's house was surrounded by single-family homes.

         The City's Planning Commission ("Commission") and Board of Directors ("Board") subsequently denied Mensie's applications to rezone her house for use as a salon.[2] Mensie, who is African American, brought this lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging the City denied her applications in violation of the Equal Protection Clause and Due Process Clause by singling her out as a "class of one, "discriminating on the basis of race, and acting "based on capricious and arbitrary conditions."

         Mensie first sued the City in Arkansas state court in 2008. The case was dismissed without prejudice in May 2015 for failure to prosecute. Mensie filed her current suit in the same state court in November 2015, and the City removed it to federal district court.[3]

         After discovery, the district court granted the City's motion for summary judgment, concluding Mensie failed to show the City either treated her less favorably than other similarly situated salon operators or denied her applications based on race. Mensie appeals.

         II. Standard of Review

         This court reviews a grant of summary judgment de novo, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Barstad v. Murray Cty., 420 F.3d 880, 883 (8th Cir. 2005). "Summary judgment is appropriate only if there are no genuine issues of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Id.; Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). "The movant 'bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion,' and must identify 'those portions of [the record] . . . which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.'" Torgerson v. City of Rochester, 643 F.3d 1031, 1042 (8th Cir. 2011) (en banc) (alterations in original) (quoting Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986)). "If the movant does so, the nonmovant must respond by submitting evidentiary materials that set out 'specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Id. (quoting Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 324). "The nonmovant 'must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.'" Id. (quoting Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986)).

         III. Discussion

         Mensie argues the City violated her "substantive due process rights" by denying her rezoning applications based at least partially on her race. She also argues the City violated her equal protection rights by discriminating against her as a "class of one" in comparison to other similarly situated salons throughout the City. Viewing both of these arguments as equal protection ...


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