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Archbold-Garrett v. New Orleans City Metro/Durr Group

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

July 24, 2017

LOURDES T. ARCHBOLD-GARRETT DAVID L. GARRETT
v.
NEW ORLEANS CITY METRO/DURR GROUP

         SECTION “B” (2)

          ORDER AND REASONS

         I. NATURE OF MOTION AND RELIEF SOUGHT

         Before this Court are Defendant City of New Orleans' (“City”) “Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1)”, (Rec. Doc. 14), and Plaintiffs' “Opposition to the Defendant City of New Orleans' Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1) and (6)” (Rec Doc. 19). For the reasons that follow, IT IS ORDERED that Defendant's Motion to Dismiss IS GRANTED.

         II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On October 28, 2016, Plaintiffs filed the instant case against Defendants City of New Orleans and Metro/Durr Group, alleging that they are entitled to relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for the City's alleged denial of due process and just compensation in violation of the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments. (Rec. Doc. 2 at 1). Plaintiffs invoke federal question subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, 28 U.S.C. § 1343(a)(3), and 28 U.S.C. § 1367. Id. Plaintiffs allege that the City violated the requirements of due process and just compensation by demolishing Plaintiffs' blighted structure at 7729 I-10 Service Road in New Orleans without notifying Plaintiffs prior to the demolition. Id. at 2-3.

         According to their complaint, Plaintiffs purchased the blighted property from the City on October 2, 2015. Id. at 3. Following this sale, the City demolished the structures on the property on January 27, 2016 and subsequently instituted proceedings against Plaintiffs seeking to recover the cost of the demolition on April 16, 2016. Id.

         III. PARTIES' CONTENTIONS

         On May 19, 2017, the City filed the instant “Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1).” (Rec. Doc. 14). The City requests that this court dismiss all of Plaintiffs' claims because Plaintiffs failed to seek compensation in state court, rendering their claims unripe for review and leaving this Court without subject matter jurisdiction. Id. at 1.

         The City first asserts that this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiffs' takings claim because Plaintiffs failed to file an inverse condemnation suit in state court prior to this action, and thus the claim is unripe for review. (Rec. Doc. 14-1 at 3-4). Additionally, the City asserts that this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiffs' procedural due process claim because Plaintiffs have alleged no separate injury from their takings claim. Furthermore, Defendant argues that a due process claim related to a takings claim must first be resolved according to state court procedures to be ripe. Id. at 4-5. Finally, the City asserts that this Court lacks jurisdiction over Plaintiffs' Fourth Amendment claim because resolution of the claim requires further factual development of Plaintiffs' takings claim and is thus unripe. Id. at 5-6.

         Plaintiffs contend that they did attempt resolution of their claim through letters to the City but that the City failed to respond. (Rec. Doc. 19 at 1-3). Plaintiffs attempt to differentiate their case from others that found takings claims to be unripe because they were not first redressed in state court by arguing that the demolition of Plaintiffs' structure was in itself a final decision by a City agency for which Plaintiffs were afforded no hearing or notice. Id. at 4-5. Plaintiffs also argue that the statute justifying the City's demolition of their structure contains no means for redress. Id. at 7-8. Plaintiffs contend that their Fifth Amendment claim was not a taking of their property for public use but rather was an abuse of police power, and thus the inverse condemnation procedures do not adequately address their claims. Id. at 9. Plaintiffs note that if the case is dismissed, Plaintiffs may not be able to join Defendant Metro/Durr Group in a state court proceeding. Id. at 10.

         Finally, Plaintiffs argue that state court inverse condemnation proceedings are inadequate because there is no way to enforce a civil Judgment against the Defendant City. Id. Plaintiffs cite to the $34 million owed to more than six hundred final state court judgments as evidence that a judgment in a state inverse condemnation proceeding would be, in effect, unenforceable. Id. at 10-11.

         IV. FACTUAL AND LEGAL FINDINGS

         The City has moved for dismissal of Plaintiffs claims pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). The Court dismisses a case under Rule 12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction if it lacks that statutory or constitutional power to adjudicate the case. Home Builders Ass'n of Miss., Inc. v. City of Madison, 143 F.3d 1006, 1010 (5th Cir. 1998). The burden of proof is on the party asserting jurisdiction. Ramming v. United States, 281 F.3d 158, 161 (5th Cir. 2001). The standard of review for a Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction is the same as that for a Rule 12(b)(6) motion. Benton v. United States, 960 F.2d 19, 21 (5th Cir. 1992). Thus, the Court cannot dismiss the complaint unless it appears beyond a doubt that the plaintiff cannot prove a plausible set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief. See Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955 (2007). Additionally, the Court must accept all well-pleaded facts as true, viewing them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. AFL-CIO v. Murphy Oil USA, Inc., 2007 WL 4365393 at*1 (E.D. La. 2007).

         Article III of the Constitution limits federal courts' subject matter jurisdiction to “cases” and “controversies, ” which includes the requirement that the case be ripe for review. United Transp. Union v. Foster, 205 F.3d 851, 857 (5th Cir. 2000). ‚ÄúRipeness separates those matters that are premature because the injury is speculative and may never occur from those that are ...


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