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Buchda v. Village of Fall River

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

May 23, 2016

MADELYN WISSELL BUCHDA, Plaintiff,
v.
VILLAGE OF FALL RIVER, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          WILLIAM M. CONLEY DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Madelyn Wissell Buchda challenges defendant Village of Fall River’s ordinance prohibiting pit bulls in the village. Buchda contends that the ordinance violates both her due process and equal protection rights under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The parties have cross-moved for summary judgment. (Dkt. ##17, 31.) For the reasons that follow, the court concludes that plaintiff’s due process and equal protection claims fail as a matter of law. Therefore, the court will deny plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment, grant defendant’s motion, and direct the clerk of court to enter final judgment in defendant’s favor.

         PRELIMINARY MATTER

         In moving for summary judgment, plaintiff failed to propose findings of fact.

         Apparently, plaintiff did not recognize this omission until filing her reply, at which time she filed a motion for extension of time to file proposed findings of facts, along with her proposed submission. (Dkt. #39.) At that point, however, plaintiff’s motion was fully briefed, and granting the motion to file proposed findings effectively would put the motion back to square one.

         Moreover, plaintiff’s justification for missing the deadline makes no sense. Plaintiff’s counsel represents that he mistakenly believed the parties had agreed to stipulated facts, but plaintiff failed to file any stipulated facts with the motion as well. Instead, plaintiff simply recites several pages of “facts” without any reference to a stipulation or the underlying evidence, except for a couple of references to a police report, which (as far as the court can tell) is not part of the record.

         To make matters even worse, plaintiff failed to respond to defendant’s proposed findings of fact submitted in support of defendant’s counter-motion. Plaintiff’s failure to follow this aspect of the court’s summary judgment procedures (see 5/28/15 Order (dkt. #10) 11-15) is frankly inexcusable, especially when represented by counsel. Nonetheless, to avoid any prejudice to plaintiff, the court has reviewed her proposed findings of facts, including the supporting references to her deposition testimony, and included those where material. Unless otherwise noted, the court finds the following facts undisputed and material.

         UNDISPUTED FACTS

         A. The Village’s Pit Pull Ordinance

         The Village of Fall River is a Wisconsin municipality governed by a Board of Trustees. In October 2007, the Village Board amended ordinance section 7-1-9 (“the Ordinance”) to prohibit possession of pit bull dogs within the Village limits. The relevant portion of the Ordinance provides as follows:

a) Keeping of Animals Prohibited. It shall be unlawful to keep, harbor, own or in any way possess within the corporate limits of the Village of Fall River:
. . .
(3) Any Pit Bull. Any Pit Bull presently registered with the Village on the day this section becomes effective may be kept within the Village subject to the standards and requirements set forth in Subsection (b) of this Section. “Pit Bull dog” as that term is used in this Section is defined to mean:
a. The Staffordshire bull terrier breed of dog;
b. The American pit bull terrier breed of dog;
c. The American Staffordshire terrier breed of dog;
d. Any dog which has the appearance or characteristics of being predominantly the above breeds, or any combination of any of those breeds. In the event an owner disputes the breed of the dog, the Village Chief of Police may at the cost of the owner, have the dog examined by a Veterinarian chosen by the Chief of Police ...

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