Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

BARANOWSKI v. BOROUGH OF PALMYRA

November 2, 1994

THOMAS BARANOWSKI, VICKI BARANOWSKI, RICHARD GIBBLE, NANCY GIBBLE, ELWOOD D. LUDWICK, PATRICIA A. LUDWICK, DAVID NOEL and DONNA NOEL, Plaintiffs
v.
BOROUGH OF PALMYRA, NORTH LONDONDERRY TOWNSHIP, ROSS WATTS, KAREN KONCLE, RAY D'AGOSTINO, WILLIAM FAKE, RICHARD MAZZOCCA, FRED S. CARPENTER, RICHARD H. WHITE, BARRY REIGLE, RICHARD E. CALHOUN, RONALD E. FOUCHE, GLEN A. POWELL, FRANK C. GRENOBLE, JR., PAUL J. GARBER, GORDON W. WATTS, MAUREE GINGRICH, and RETTEW ASSOCIATES, INC., Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: WILLIAM W. CALDWELL

 Pending are three motions to dismiss filed by various Defendants. Each motion raises similar legal arguments and we will discuss them together.

 I. BACKGROUND

 This case involves property owned by the Plaintiffs in North Londonderry Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania. Plaintiffs are four couples who each own a parcel of land on Plaza Drive, in North Londonderry. Defendants are the Borough of Palmyra, its Mayor, borough manager, assistant borough manager, and members of the borough council (collectively "Palmyra Defendants") , North Londonderry Township, its township manager, assistant manager, and board of supervisors (collectively "North Londonderry Defendants"), and Rettew Associates, Inc. ("Rettew") *fn1"

 Plaintiffs' properties are adjacent to an eight acre parcel of land located in Palmyra known as "Southeast Park". Their land has experienced surface water runoff from the Southeast Park area since the late 1970s and early 1980s. In 1992, the Borough of Palmyra contracted with Rettew to construct a stormwater drainage system to solve longstanding drainage problems in Palmyra. Prior to construction Plaintiffs and other local residents appeared at a public hearing, arguing that the proposed drainage system would adversely effect their properties by increasing the amount of stormwater that flowed over the land. However, Defendant Rettew advised the other Defendants that the plan would actually decrease the amount of peak flow of stormwater through the Southeast Park area, and the plan was approved.

 The drainage system, which was completed in September, 1992, discharges stormwater from one hundred eighteen acres in Palmyra and North Londonderry through pipes in Southeast Park onto Plaintiffs' property. After its activation, Plaintiffs' properties received an increased flow of water, exacerbating sinkholes that had developed in the 1980s and increasing erosion. These conditions caused a deprivation in value of Plaintiffs' property and posed a threat to Plaintiffs' health and safety. Plaintiffs allege that all Defendants were responsible for making decisions concerning the construction and implementation of the drainage system, and that they were negligent in performing their duties. Further, they contend that Defendants knew and intended that increased stormwater would be re-routed onto Plaintiffs' property, causing substantial damage.

 In Count I, Plaintiffs seek relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 because Defendants' actions allegedly violated their substantive due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and amounted to a taking without just compensation in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution. The remaining counts advance state law tort claims.

 II. LAW AND DISCUSSION

 A. Ripeness

 1. Illegal Takings Claims

 Defendants seek dismissal of Plaintiffs' illegal taking claims pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) because this court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. They contend that the claims are not ripe because Plaintiffs have not sought compensation through condemnation proceedings under the Pennsylvania Eminent Domain Code, which is the appropriate remedy for owners claiming property was improperly taken. 26 P.S. § 1-303. In support, they cite Williamson Planning Comm'n v. Hamilton Bank, 473 U.S. 172, 105 S. Ct. 3108, 87 L. Ed. 2d 126 (1985), which held that "if a state provides an adequate procedure for seeking just compensation, the property owner cannot claim a violation of the Just Compensation Clause until it has used the procedure and been denied just compensation." Id. at 195, 105 S. Ct. at 3121, 87 L. Ed. 2d at 144.

 Plaintiffs do not dispute the application of Williamson to their claims. Instead, they request that we permit them to amend their complaint to include a state law taking claim, presumably pursuant to the Eminent Domain Code. *fn2" However, Williamson dictates that federal courts may not decide illegal taking claims unless the plaintiff has been denied just compensation by the state. Plaintiffs have not been denied just compensation in Pennsylvania state courts and their taking claims must be dismissed.

 2. Substantive Due Process

 The parties have not addressed whether Plaintiffs' substantive due process claims are ripe. Since this issue relates to our jurisdiction, we will address it sua sponte. See Acierno v. Mitchell, 6 F.3d 970, 974 (3d Cir. 1993). We must determine whether the ripeness requirements for illegal taking claims, set forth in Williamson, apply to Plaintiffs' substantive due process claims as well. In Williamson, the Court identified a two-part test to determine whether illegal taking claims are ripe: a final administrative decision by the government entity ("finality requirement") and a denial of just compensation through the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.