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Sheddy Family Trust v. Piatt Township

October 14, 2009

SHEDDY FAMILY TRUST, BY AND THROUGH LOUIS SHEDDY, ITS TRUSTEE AND LOUIS SHEDDY, INDIVIDUALLY, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
PIATT TOWNSHIP, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge McClure

MEMORANDUM

I. Introduction

This action, brought under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, was instituted by plaintiffs Louis Sheddy and the Sheddy Family Trust on June 27, 2008. (Rec. Doc. No. 1). In their complaint, plaintiffs specifically claim a violation of only their right to equal protection of the laws under the Fourteenth Amendment. See id. at 4. However, in their memorandum opposing the defendant's motion for summary judgment, plaintiffs state that, in addition to any equal protection claim, their "Complaint can reasonably be read to assert (a) a substantive due process claim for deprivation of property rights" and "(b) a substantive due process claim for selective enforcement of zoning laws . . . ."

(Rec. Doc. No. 23 at 6). Plaintiffs have named as the defendant Piatt Township.

II. Procedural History

In their complaint, plaintiffs assert that defendant Piatt Township violated their right to equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment. (Rec. Doc. No. 1 at 4). More specifically, plaintiffs claim that the violation occurred when the township enforced its zoning ordinances against plaintiffs for the alleged impermissible operation of a junkyard.

On September 15, 2008, defendant Piatt Township filed its answer and affirmative defenses to plaintiffs' complaint. (Rec. Doc. No. 9). This Court, on February 26, 2009, granted plaintiffs' motion for an extension of time to complete discovery. (Rec. Doc. Nos. 17, 18).

Defendant Piatt Township, on May 13, 2009, filed a motion for summary judgment. (Rec. Doc. No. 18). In addition to its motion, Piatt Township filed a statement of material facts pursuant to Middle District Local Rule 56.1 (Rec. Doc. No. 18-3) and a number of exhibits supplementing its motion. (Rec. Doc. Nos. 18-5 to 18-25). On May 20, 2009, Piatt Township filed a praecipe seeking to substitute an exhibit listed as "Exhibit 21" for a petition for allowance of appeal that was filed on May 13, 2009. (Rec. Doc. No. 19). Piatt Township filed a brief in support of its motion for summary judgment on May 22, 2009. (Rec. Doc. No. 20).

On June 5, 2009, this Court granted a motion filed by plaintiffs seeking an extension of time in which to respond to defendant's motion for summary judgment. (Rec. Doc. Nos. 22, 21). On June 30, 2009, plaintiffs filed both a brief in opposition to defendant's motion for summary judgment and a statement of material facts pursuant to Middle District Local Rule 56.1. (Rec. Doc. No. 23).*fn1

Piatt Township filed a reply brief on July 15, 2009. (Rec. Doc. No. 24). Thus, the matter is now ripe for disposition.

Now, for the following reasons, we will grant defendant Piatt Township's motion for summary judgment.

III. Factual Background

Taken in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, plaintiffs Louis Sheddy and the Sheddy Family Trust, the facts are as follows. The land encompassing 500 Sams Road from which Louis Sheddy was ordered to remove junk materials and vehicles is owned by one of the plaintiffs, the Sheddy Family Trust. Plaintiff Louis Sheddy is a trustee of the Sheddy Family Trust.

Defendant Piatt Township, on or about May 9, 2002, served Mr. Sheddy with an enforcement notice alleging that Mr. Sheddy was in violation of several township ordinances concerning his storing junk vehicles on the 500 Sams Road property without a permit. Because of his storing these junk vehicles on the property, the township charged him with violating Sections 306, 400, and 900 of the township's zoning ordinance. Plaintiffs also received an enforcement notice on June 18, providing them with an additional thirty days to file an appeal with the township's zoning hearing board and requiring them to remove all junk, unlicensed vehicles, and other vehicles from the property. Plaintiffs concede that Mr. Sheddy did not appeal the enforcement notice within the allotted time; while it appears as though Mr. Sheddy did write a letter to the zoning officer, he did not include the required check for $250.00 for a hearing before the zoning hearing board.

Piatt Township began enforcement proceedings in Magisterial District Justice Court on or about August 7, 2002. On September 5, 2002, judgment was entered against Mr. Sheddy. He appealed the ...


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