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United States v. Klimczak

July 7, 2009

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF
v.
HENRY KLIMCZAK AND PAULA KLIMCZAK, DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: (Judge Munley)

MEMORANDUM

Before the court for disposition is Plaintiff United States of America's motion for partial summary judgment. The matter has been fully briefed and is ripe for disposition.

Background

Plaintiff United States of America filed the instant action to eject the Defendants, Henry and Paula Klimczak from a site in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, known as "Wheat Plains." Wheat Plains is an historic farm located in the park. The government seeks damages in addition to ejectment.

To carry out a land management program in the park, the National Park Service (hereinafter "NPS") grants agricultural Special Use Permits (hereinafter "SUP"). On July 22, 2000, the defendants signed a twenty-year SUP for Wheat Plains. The SUP provided for a rental fees for the farm buildings and croplands. (SUP, Attachment 1-m to O'Leary Declaration (hereinafter cited as "SUP"), at ¶ 16). Retention of the SUP is dependent on compliance with conditions listed therein. (Id. at p. 1).

The NPS had the authority to revoke the permit if the defendants breached it or if they violated any law of the United States or applicable Park regulation . (Id. at ¶ 23).

The SUP provided that "[a]ll money spent on improvements and repairs to house and outbuildings on the property, including labor, may be deducted from the above payments if such improvements and repairs are approved by the National Park Service." (Id. at 1). The defendants must obtain permission prior to constructing either temporary or permanent buildings or structures on the land. (Id. ¶ 26).

During the first four years of the lease, the defendants performed various improvements and repairs that were deducted from their lease payments through the end of the 2004 calendar year. (Attachment 1-d to O'Leary Deposition). The Superintendent instructed them, however, that the lease required prior approval before repairs or construction could occur. (Id. at attachment 1-n.). In 2002, the defendants constructed a "farm stand" on the property without the prior approval in writing of the NPS. It is not precisely clear from the filings, but it appears that the defendants stopped paying its rental payment when the plaintiff failed to deduct the cost of constructing the farm stand from the amount owed under the SUP.

On December 31, 2007, plaintiff cancelled the lease with the defendants for non-payment of rent. As of that date, the plaintiff contends that defendants owed $37,012.03. (Doc. 1, Complaint ¶ 6). Plaintiff ordered the defendants to cease and desist all agricultural and concession activities on the property and provided the defendants with thirty (30) days to vacate the buildings and remove all their belongings. (Id. at ¶ 7). The plaintiffs continued to occupy the property. Thus the plaintiff filed the instant case seeking the ejectment of the defendants from the property and damages in the amount of unpaid rent.

At the close of discovery, the plaintiff moved for partial summary judgment, bringing the case to its present posture.

Jurisdiction

We have jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § § 1345 and 1331.

Standard of Review

Granting summary judgment is proper if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Knabe v. Boury, 114 F.3d 407, 410 n.4 (3d Cir. 1997) (citing FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c)). "[T]his standard provides that the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the ...


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