Amicus Brief

Commodities Export Co. v Detroit International Bridge Co. and City of Detroit

Case Year: 2011
Case Forum: U.S. Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
Keywords: pre-emption, federal instrumentality, Detroit International Bridge Company, bridge, police power, zoning
Amicus Counsel:

William H. Goodman | Goodman & Hurwitz PC | 1394 E. Jefferson Ave | Detroit, MI 48207

CoAmicus Parties:

1. Southwest Detroit Business Association
2. Hubbard Farms Historic District
3. West Grand Boulevard United for Progress
4. People’s Community Services’
5. Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision
5. Maurice and Jane Sugar Law Center for Social & Economic Justice
6. Bridgewatch Detroit
7. Friends of Riverside Park


Amicus counsel argues that DIBC is not a federal instrumentality. First of all, the federal government lacks control over DIBC, therefore confirming that it is a private entity, not a federal instrumentality. Secondly, courts across the United States have continuously rejected the argument that DIBC makes here: that interstate bridges are federal instrumentalities simply because they have been authorized by Congress. Therefore, it logically follows that international bridges are not federal instrumentalities simply because they have been authorized by Congress. Third, in this case the Michigan Supreme Court erred in its reliance upon the dissimilar facts of Name.Space, Inc. to support it’s holding that DIBC is a limited federal instrumentality. The instrumentality in Name.Space, Inc. had a contractual relationship that allowed the instrumentality to engage in certain functions, whereas in this case there was no such contractual relationship. If the Court of Appeals’ decision is left to stand, state police power will be diminished to the detriment of Michigan residents.


In sum, the federal courts have jurisdiction over the United States’s cross-claim, the action that underlies this appeal. We owe no deference to the Michigan Supreme Court’s interpretation of federal common law. On the merits, the district court correctly held that the Bridge Company is not a federal instrumentality. And it was not error to grant Commodities Export’s voluntary dismissal motion without vacating the grant of summary judgment for the United States. We AFFIRM the district court’s judgment and injunction.

MSC requested LDF amicus brief? No
Case Number: 2011-12
©2022 Michigan Municipal League LLC. All rights reserved