Wisconsinites Lose Land Case Involving Trump-Backed Plant

MILWAUKEE (CN) – A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit related to a $10 billion electronics manufacturing factory touted by President Donald Trump over the objections of Wisconsin residents who said a development agreement between their city and Foxconn Technology Group unlawfully takes their property.

The Village of Mount Pleasant entered into an agreement with Foxconn to purchase property so the company can build a 22 million-square-foot manufacturing factory that has received the backing of President Donald Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

Walker penned an agreement with Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou that pledges $2.85 billion in state income tax credits for what the company has said will be one of the largest manufacturing campuses in the world. The Taiwanese firm promised that the project would generate 13,000 jobs.

U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman gave the project another boost Wednesday when he dismissed a lawsuit filed by 12 Mount Pleasant and Sturtevant landowners who claimed the village violated their constitutional rights to equal protection, private property and due process. They argued they were not offered fair compensation for the taking of their land.

Their complaint alleged that Foxconn planned to expand roads and utilities on land that they owned.

Judge Adelman dismissed the case for failure to state a claim, ruling the residents’ equal protection and due process claims failed in part because they did not show how they were similar to other nearby residents who they claimed received more generous offers for their land.

“Here, the only meaningful comparative information about plaintiffs and their neighbors comes from a map of the planned development area showing their respective properties that plaintiffs attached to their complaint,” Adelman wrote in the 12-page order.  “The map shows that plaintiffs’ properties are small and peripheral, while the ‘option parcels’ are generally much larger and closer to the initial building site. If anything, this suggests a lack of similarity between plaintiffs and their neighbors fatal to these claims.”

Adelman added that the residents’ due process allegations had to meet the “high standard” that Mount Pleasant’s conduct had “shocked the conscience.”

“Defendants’ alleged conduct falls well short of shocking the conscience. That defendants offered to pay some property owners substantially more than others to acquire their properties is hardly ‘oppressive’ in any actionable sense,” the judge wrote.

Foxconn, which has previously built factories to assemble Apple iPhones, Amazon Kindles and Sony Playstations, will make liquid crystal displays for flatscreen TVs at the Wisconsin manufacturing campus.

Mount Pleasant’s attorney Andrea Roschke declined to comment on the ruling.

The residents’ attorney Erik Olsen did not immediately respond Thursday to a request for comment.

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