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Whittaker v. County of Lawrence

December 7, 2009

THOMAS R. WHITTAKER, CHRISTY L. WHITTAKER, ESTATE OF DAVID C. HAMILTON, AND EDNA J. HAMILTON, AS EXECUTRIX OF THE ESTATE OF DAVID C. HAMILTON, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
COUNTY OF LAWRENCE, TOWNSHIP OF NESHANNOCK, LAWRENCE COUNTY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY OF LAWRENCE COUNTY, STEVE J. CRAIG, DANIEL J. VOGLER, FRANK TELESZ, JAMES GAGLIANO, JR., DENNIS F. ALDUK, JOSEPH CAMINITI, RYAN KEGEL, JON NATALE, GALE E. MEASEL, JR., ROBERT DEL SIGNORE, SR., AND LINDA NITCH, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Nora Barry Fischer United States District Court Judge

Judge Nora Barry Fischer

MEMORANDUM OPINION

I. Introduction

This action concerns an exercise of eminent domain power alleged to have been in violation of both the United States Constitution and the Pennsylvania Constitution. Currently pending before the Court is a motion to dismiss filed by the Defendants pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (Docket No. 161). For the reasons that follow, that motion will be granted with respect to all federal constitutional claims contained in the second amended complaint. The Court will decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the Plaintiffs' state constitutional claims.

II. Factual Background and Procedural History

Since this matter comes before the Court on a motion to dismiss, the allegations contained in the second amended complaint are assumed to be true. Leatherman v. Tarrant County Narcotics Intelligence & Coordination Unit, 507 U.S. 163, 164 (1993). Plaintiffs Thomas R. Whittaker and Christy L. Whittaker ("the Whittakers"), are adult individuals who maintain their residence on Kings Chapel Road, which is located in Neshannock Township ("Neshannock"), Pennsylvania. (Docket No. 126, ¶ 1). Plaintiff David C. Hamilton ("Hamilton") was the owner of real property located at RD #3, Box 599, in New Castle, Pennsylvania. (Id., ¶ 2). He is now deceased, and the property at issue is a part of his estate. (Id.). The estate is being administered by Edna J. Hamilton ("Edna"). (Id.).

The County of Lawrence ("Lawrence County") is a political subdivision classified as a fifth-class county under Pennsylvania law. (Id., ¶ 3). Neshannock is a second-class township located in Lawrence County. (Id., ¶ 4). The Lawrence County Economic Development Corporation ("LCEDC") is a nonprofit corporation which maintains its mailing address in New Castle. (Id., ¶ 5). The Redevelopment Authority of Lawrence County ("RALC") is a redevelopment authority organized pursuant to Pennsylvania's Urban Redevelopment Law ("URL") [35 PA. STAT. § 1701 et seq.]. At all times relevant to this case, Steve J. Craig ("Craig") and Daniel J. Vogler ("Vogler") were Lawrence County Commissioners. (Id., ¶¶ 7-8). Frank Telesz ("Telesz") was the Chairman of the Lawrence County Planning Commission ("Planning Commission"). (Id., ¶ 9). James Gagliano, Jr. ("Gagliano") was the Director of the Lawrence County Department of Planning and the Executive Director of the RALC. (Id., ¶ 10). Dennis F. Alduk ("Alduk") was a member of the RALC. (Id., ¶ 11). Joseph Caminiti ("Caminiti") was both a member of the RALC and the President of its Board of Directors ("Board"). (Id., ¶ 12). W. Ryan Kegel ("Kegel") and Jon Natale ("Natale") were members of the RALC's Board. (Id., ¶¶ 13-14). Gale E. Measel, Jr. ("Measel") served on Neshannock's Board of Supervisors. (Id., ¶ 15). Robert Del Signore, Jr. ("Del Signore") was a Director and President of the LCEDC. (Id., ¶ 16). Linda Nitch ("Nitch") was both a member of the Planning Commission and the Executive Director of the LCEDC. (Id., ¶ 17). Each of these individuals was involved in the proposed development of 500 acres of property into an industrial park that was to be known as "Millennium Park." (Id., ¶ 18).

The parcels of property owned by Hamilton and the Whittakers were located within the proposed development. (Id., ¶ 29). Hamilton's property consisted of approximately 2.5 acres of land, while the property owned by the Whittakers consisted of roughly 84 acres of land. In Re: Condemnation by the RALC, 962 A.2d 1257, 1258 (Pa.Commw.Ct. 2008). On September 18, 2002, members of the LCEDC displayed the site to individuals who had been sent by the Ch2M Hill Industrial Design Corporation ("IDC"). (Docket No. 126, ¶ 28). Less than a month later, Lawrence County officials pledged in a letter to the IDC to do their "utmost to facilitate" the Millennium Park project. (Id., ¶ 38). Gagliano, Measel and Nitch appeared before the Lawrence County Commissioners on November 19, 2002, in order to request the creation of the RALC. (Id., ¶ 40). The RALC's purpose was to assist the LCEDC in achieving its economic development goals. (Id., ¶ 40). Nitch advised the Commissioners that she needed the RALC as a "tool in her toolbelt." (Id., ¶ 41).

By 2003, the LCEDC was actively marketing the "Millennium Park site" even though it had not acquired the parcels of property owned by Hamilton and the Whittakers. (Id., ¶ 29). Potential buyers sometimes trespassed on the property without the consent of the owners. (Id., ¶ 32). Because the Plaintiffs were unwilling to sell their parcels of property to the LCEDC, the Defendants allegedly devised a scheme to have the RALC created in order to facilitate the condemnation of the parcels and their eventual transfer to the LCEDC. (Id., ¶¶ 35-36).

Lawrence County created the RALC on February 4, 2003. (Id., ¶ 43). This action was allegedly taken for the sole purpose of condemning the Plaintiffs' parcels of property on the pretextual ground that they were "blighted." (Id.). One week later, state officials met with Nitch, Measel, and other LCEDC and Neshannock officials to discuss funding for the Millennium Park project. (Id., ¶ 44). On February 19, 2003, the LCEDC formally adopted Resolution R2003-6, which explicitly targeted the Plaintiffs' property for acquisition. (Id., ¶ 45). An agreement entered into on April 22, 2003, between Lawrence County and the LCEDC indicated that, if necessary, eminent domain powers would be invoked in order to facilitate the Millennium Park project. (Id., ¶ 46). On May 21, 2003, Neshannock and the LCEDC entered into a cooperation agreement designed to further the project. (Id., ¶ 47). This agreement, which was signed by Vogler and Measel on behalf of Neshannock, provided funding for the proposed development. (Id.). That same day, Neshannock passed Resolution 2003-61, which designated the parcels of property owned by the Plaintiffs as tax-exempt on the ground that they were "experiencing distress characterized by high unemployment, low investment of new capital, blighted conditions, and underutilized obsolete or abandoned industrial, commercial, and residential structures, and deteriorated tax base." (Id., ¶ 51). Lawrence County adopted a similar "tax-exempt" resolution concerning the Plaintiffs' property on May 27, 2003. (Id., ¶ 52).

On June 11, 2003, the LCEDC convened a meeting to discuss the impending condemnation proceedings. (Id., ¶ 54). Gagliano, Measel, Del Signore and Nitch were all present at the meeting. (Id.). It was determined that the LCEDC would make final offers for the purchase of the Plaintiffs' property with the admonition that the Plaintiffs' refusal to sell would result in the initiation of eminent domain proceedings. (Id.). In June 2003, the LCEDC offered to pay the Whittakers $13,124.30 for each acre of their property, for a total of over $1,000,000.00. (Id., ¶ 74). The Whittakers did not accept the offer. (Id.). A similar offer was made to Hamilton, who likewise declined to sell his property. (Id., ¶ 75).

On June 18, 2003, the IDC agreed to provide engineering services to the LCEDC in order to facilitate the development of the Millennium Park site. (Id., ¶ 55). At an LCEDC meeting conducted on July 16, 2003, Gagliano stated that the Lawrence County Commissioners had approved the RALC's efforts to provide assistance to the LCEDC by acquiring the Plaintiffs' property, that the RALC had no intentions of retaining ownership of the property, and that the RALC would ultimately sell the property to the LCEDC. (Id., ¶ 57). Craig publicly acknowledged that discussions were underway between Lawrence County and the LCEDC concerning the acquisition of the Plaintiffs' property and the subsequent development of an industrial park. (Id., ¶ 59). Before the end of July 2003, the Planning Commission informed George Haberman ("Haberman"), an IDC official, that the establishment of the RALC had been necessary in order to condemn certain parcels of property located within the Millennium Park site. (Id., ¶ 58). The IDC was advised that the LCEDC's agreements with contractors would be revised to indicate that such contractors were agents of both the LCEDC and the RALC. (Id., ¶ 60). On July 22, 2003, Nitch informed Gagliano that the IDC needed to begin its work as soon as possible in order to meet the LCEDC's deadline for completing the redevelopment of the site. (Id., ¶ 61).

The RALC held its first corporate meeting on July 23, 2003. (Id., ¶ 62). On that occasion, a resolution was passed indicating that the RALC was going to prepare a redevelopment plan for a site in Neshannock in order to facilitate the construction of Millennium Park. (Id.). Nitch spoke in favor of the plan. (Id.). Caminiti, Natale, Alduk and Telesz all voted in favor of the resolution. (Id.). By August 1, 2003, the IDC had completed property descriptions of the parcels of property owned by the Plaintiffs with the understanding that they would be included within the redevelopment plan. (Id., ¶ 64).

On August 14, 2003, the Planning Commission passed Resolution R-2003-02, which certified that the Millennium Park site was a "blighted redevelopment area." (Docket No. 126, ¶¶ 66, 96). No blighted property review committee ("BPRC") was created. (Id., ¶ 86). The Plaintiffs were not served with advance notice of the Planning Commission's meeting. (Id., ¶ 97).

On September 11, 2003, the Planning Commission passed Resolution R-2003-03, which adopted the proposed redevelopment plan based on the earlier finding of "blight." (Id., ¶ 98). The Plaintiffs were never served with notice of the Planning Commission's meeting. (Id., ¶ 99). The RALC passed Resolution R-2003-7 on September 17, 2003, thereby accepting the redevelopment plan and recommending that it be approved by the Lawrence County Commissioners. (Id., ¶ 100). All RALC Board members voted in favor of the resolution. (Id.). No notice of this action was provided to the Plaintiffs. (Id., ¶ 101).

The RALC and the LCEDC entered into an agreement on February 25, 2004. (Id., ¶ 116). The RALC agreed to condemn the Plaintiffs' property, and the LCEDC agreed to finance the condemnation. (Id.). Gagliano, Alduk, Caminiti, Kegel, Natale and Nitch all voted in favor of the agreement. (Id.). The agreement expressly provided that the RALC was not permitted to commence eminent domain proceedings against the Plaintiffs' property before receiving a specific request to do so from the LCEDC. (Id., ¶ 117). The LCEDC's written consent was required before the RALC could settle an eminent domain proceeding. (Id., ¶ 118).

The Planning Commission approved an amended redevelopment plan on April 13, 2004, by passing Resolution R-2004-01. (Id., ¶ 102). The plan was certified to the Lawrence County Commissioners. (Id.). The Plaintiffs were never served with notice of the meeting. (Id., ¶ 103). At a meeting conducted on April 28, 2004, the RALC Board unanimously approved the amended redevelopment plan by passing Resolutions R-2004-2 and R-2004-3. (Id., ¶ 104). No notice of this meeting was served on the Plaintiffs. (Id., ¶ 105). Thus, they were unaware of the actions taken against their property. (Id., ¶¶ 97, 99, 101, 105).

The Lawrence County Commissioners convened a hearing on May 11, 2004, in order to hear public testimony pertaining to the amended redevelopment plan. (Id., ¶ 106). The Plaintiffs were provided with notice of the hearing. (Id.). At the hearing, Gagliano acknowledged that the parcels of property owned by Hamilton and the Whittakers did not meet the criteria for "blight" enumerated in 35 PA. STAT. § 1712.1(c), and that the same was true of the other structures located within the Millennium Park site. (Id., ¶¶ 107-109). Measel, who testified in favor of the redevelopment plan, refused to answer questions posed to him by the Plaintiffs' attorney. (Id., ¶¶ 112-114). After the hearing, the Lawrence County Commissioners convened a public meeting and approved the redevelopment plan. (Id., ¶ 110). Craig and Vogler both voted in favor of the plan. (Id., ¶¶ 110-111).

Because of the impending condemnation of their property, the Whittakers commenced the instant action on July 23, 2004, naming Lawrence County, Neshannock, the LCEDC and the RALC as defendants. (Docket No. 1). They requested injunctive, declaratory and monetary relief for alleged violations of both the United States and Pennsylvania Constitutions. (Id.). Hamilton filed a similar action on July 27, 2004, naming the same four defendants and seeking the same forms of relief. (CV-04-1110, Docket No. 1). On July 29, 2004, the RALC filed separate declarations of taking in the Court of Common Pleas of Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, thereby condemning the parcels of property owned by Hamilton and the Whittakers. (Docket No. 126, ¶¶ 129-130). The Plaintiffs filed preliminary objections to the declarations of taking on August 31, 2004. (Docket No. 40, p. 2, ¶ 4). The RALC amended its declarations of taking on September 23, 2004, and the Plaintiffs responded by filing preliminary objections to the amended filings on October 26, 2004. (Id., ¶¶ 3-4). On December 9, 2004, Hamilton's action was consolidated with the instant action. (Docket No. 25). The proceedings in this case were stayed because of the ongoing proceedings in the Pennsylvania courts, and because the United States Supreme Court had not yet issued its decision in Kelo v. City of New London, 545 U.S. 469 (2005). (Docket No. 26).

Hamilton died on January 26, 2005. (CV-04-1110, Docket No. 23, p. 2, ¶ 5). On June 10, 2005, the Whittakers commenced an action in this Court against Craig, Vogler, Telesz, Gagliano, Alduk, Caminiti, Kegel, Natale, Measel, Del Signore and Nitch, alleging violations of the United States and Pennsylvania Constitutions. (CV-05-801, Docket No. 1). Janet A. Verone ("Verone") and Earl Cunningham ("Cunningham"), both of whom had served on the Planning Commission, were also named as defendants in that action.*fn1 (Id., p. 2, ¶¶ 4-5). The Whittakers' action against the individual defendants was consolidated with the instant action on August 18, 2005. (CV-05-801, Docket No. 12). Edna was substituted for Hamilton as a plaintiff in this action on August 19, 2005. (CV-04-1110, Docket No. 24).

Under Pennsylvania law, redevelopment authorities are required to file annual reports with the Pennsylvania Department of Community Affairs ("DCA"). 35 PA. STAT. § 1719. The RALC's reports for the years 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006 indicated that it was an "inactive" entity that was not engaging in financial activity. (Docket No. 126, ¶ 67). During this period of time, the RALC reported that it had no assets and no liabilities. (Id.). The Lawrence County Commissioners never authorized funding for the RALC. (Id., ¶ 77). The RALC never had employees. (Id., ¶ 78). The Plaintiffs allege that the RALC was created solely to facilitate the condemnation and taking of their property. (Id., ¶ 79).

On June 15, 2007, Judge Thomas M. Piccione ("Judge Piccione") partially sustained and partially overruled the preliminary objections which had been filed by the Plaintiffs. (Docket No. 50-3). The objections to the legality of the takings were overruled, while the objections based on the alleged inadequacy of the bonds posted with the declarations of taking were sustained. (Id.). The parties cross-appealed to the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court. The stay in the instant case was lifted on October 15, 2007. (Docket Nos. 67 & 68). On January 24, 2008, in response to various motions filed by the Defendants, the Court ordered the Plaintiffs to file a single, unified complaint in accordance with the requirements which had been enunciated in Bell Atlantic Corporation v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007). (Docket No. 122). The Plaintiffs' second amended complaint, which is presently before the Court, was filed on April 21, 2008. (Docket No. 126).

On June 20, 2008, the Defendants filed a motion to dismiss the second amended complaint.

(Docket No. 129). Meanwhile, the proceedings in the Pennsylvania courts continued. The Commonwealth Court reversed Judge Piccione's decision concerning the legality of the takings on December 22, 2008, holding that the Millennium Park site was not "blighted" within the meaning of the URL and, hence, not subject to condemnation thereunder. In re: Condemnation by the RALC, 962 A.2d 1257 (Pa.Commw.Ct. 2008). The Defendants filed a petition for allowance of appeal with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. On March 25, 2009, this Court denied the Defendants' motion to dismiss without prejudice. (Docket No. 149). The instant action was stayed until the conclusion of the proceedings in the Pennsylvania courts. (Id.).

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied the Defendants' petition for allowance of appeal on June 23, 2009. In Re: Condemnation by the RALC, 973 A.2d 1008 (Pa. 2009). Two days later, this Court lifted the stay applicable to the instant case. (Doc. No. 153). On October 20, 2009, the Defendants filed a renewed motion to dismiss the second amended complaint. (Docket No. 161). That motion is the subject of this memorandum opinion.

III. Standard of Review

A valid complaint requires only "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." FED. R. CIV. P. 8(a)(2). To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009)(citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2008)); see also Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, Civ. A. No. 07-4285, -- F.3d --, 2009 U.S. App. LEXIS 18626, at *14-15 (3d Cir. Aug. 18, 2009).

The Supreme Court in Iqbal clarified that the decision in Twombly "expounded the pleading standard for 'all civil actions.'" Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1953; Fowler, 2009 U.S. App. LEXIS 18626, at *15. The court further explained that although a court must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in a complaint, that requirement does not apply to legal conclusions; therefore, the pleadings must include factual allegations to support the legal claims asserted. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949, 1953. "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id. at 1949 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555); see also Fowler, 2009 U.S. App. LEXIS 18626, at *15-16; and Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 232 (3d Cir. 2008). The determination of whether a complaint contains a plausible claim for relief under the facts asserted "is a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1950 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556); Fowler, 2009 U.S. App. LEXIS 18626, at *18. In light of Iqbal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has instructed that district courts should first separate the factual and legal elements of a claim and then, accepting the "well-pleaded facts as true," "determine whether the facts alleged in the complaint are sufficient to show that the plaintiff has a 'plausible claim for relief.'" Fowler, 2009 U.S. App. LEXIS 18626, at *5. Ultimately, to survive a motion to dismiss, a plaintiff must plead "factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556)

In evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court "may look beyond the complaint to matters of public record, including court files and records ... and documents referenced in the complaint or essential to a plaintiff's claim which are attached to either the [c]omplaint or the defendant's motion." Spence v. Brownsville Area Sch. Dist., Civ. A. No. 08-0626, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 55026, at *7 (W.D. Pa. July 15, 2008)(citing Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Indus., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993)). A court may consider "an undisputedly authentic document that a defendant attaches as an exhibit to a motion to dismiss if the plaintiff's claims are based on the document." Pension Benefit Guar. Corp., 998 F.2d at 1196 (citations omitted). Otherwise, a plaintiff with a legally insufficient claim could survive a motion to dismiss "simply by failing to attach a dispositive document on which it relied." Id.

IV. Discussion

The second amended complaint contains nine counts. (Docket No. 126, ¶¶ 147-205). In Count I, the Plaintiffs allege that the actions taken by the Defendants against their parcels of property constituted violations of the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment, which is applicable to the States by virtue of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. (Id., ¶¶ 147-154). Counts II, III and IV are all based on alleged violations of the Fourteenth Amendment. (Id., ¶¶ 155-178). In Count II, the Plaintiffs assert claims under the Equal Protection Clause. (Id., ¶¶ 155-164). Counts III and IV, which are based on the Due Process Clause, allege "procedural" and "substantive" due process violations, respectively. (Id., ¶¶ 165-178). These federal constitutional claims, of course, are cognizable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In Count V, the Plaintiffs advance a federal "civil conspiracy" claim under § 1983. (Id., ¶¶ 179-184). Counts VI, VII, VIII and IX*fn2 are based on alleged violations of the Pennsylvania Constitution which parallel the federal constitutional violations alleged in Counts I, II, III and IV. (Id., ¶¶ 185-205). The Court has jurisdiction over the Plaintiffs' federal constitutional claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Supplemental jurisdiction over the Plaintiffs' state constitutional claims is predicated on 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a). Venue is proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b).

The Plaintiffs' federal constitutional claims are brought pursuant to § 1983, which provides: Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress, except that in any action brought against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer's judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall not be granted unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable. For purposes of this section, any Act of Congress applicable exclusively to the District of Columbia shall be considered to be a statute of the District of Columbia.

42 U.S.C. § 1983. This statute does not create substantive rights. Maher v. Gagne, 448 U.S. 122, 129, n. 11 (1980). A plaintiff cannot prevail in an action brought under § 1983 without establishing an underlying violation of a federally protected right. Collins v. City of Harker Heights, 503 U.S. 115, 119 (1992). "Section 1983 itself contains no state-of-mind requirement independent of that necessary to state a violation of the underlying federal right." Board of County Commissioners v. Brown, 520 U.S. 397, 405 (1997)(internal quotation marks omitted).

The first step for a Court to take in evaluating a claim brought under § 1983 is to "identify the exact contours of the underlying right said to have been violated." County of Sacramento v. Lewis, 523 U.S. 833, 841, n. 5 (1998). The federal rights invoked by the Plaintiffs in this case are based on § 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment, which provides:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

U.S. CONST., AMEND. XIV, § 1. The Due Process Clause incorporates the Fifth Amendment's Takings Clause, making it binding on the States. Palazzolo v. Rhode Island, 533 U.S. 606, 611 (2001). Therefore, the Takings Clause claims brought by the Plaintiffs, like the claims based squarely on the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses, are grounded in the Fourteenth Amendment.

A. The Takings Clause Claims

The Takings Clause provides that "private property" shall not "be taken for public use without just compensation." U.S. CONST., AMEND. V. While this constitutional provision confirms the government's authority to confiscate private property, it imposes two conditions on the exercise of that authority. Brown v. Legal Foundation of Washington, 538 U.S. 216, 231-232 (2003). First, private property may be lawfully "taken" only for a "public use." Id. Second, the taking of private property by the government necessitates the payment of "just compensation" to the owner. First Evangelical Lutheran Church of Glendale v. County of Los Angeles, 482 U.S. 304, 314 (1987). The "public use" condition "has long been understood to guarantee that 'one person's property may not be taken for the benefit of another private person without a justifying public purpose, even though compensation be paid.'" Goldstein v. Pataki, 516 F.3d 50, 57 (2d Cir. 2008), quoting Thompson v. Consolidated Gas Utilities Corp., 300 U.S. 55, 80 (1937). The purpose of the "just compensation" condition is to prohibit the government "from forcing some people alone to bear public burdens which, in all fairness and justice, should be borne by the public as a whole." Tahoe-Sierra Preservation Council, Inc. v. Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, 535 U.S. 302, 336 (2002), quoting Armstrong v. United States, 364 U.S. 40, 49 (1960).

The instant case concerns only the Takings Clause's "public use" requirement. The Plaintiffs allege that their parcels of property were condemned solely to facilitate "the development of a high technology business park known as 'Millennium Park.'" (Docket No. 126, ¶ 150). They aver that this stated purpose for the condemnations did not constitute a constitutionally permissible "public use." (Id., ¶ 151). The Defendants argue that the development of the Millennium Park site was a sufficiently "public" objective to satisfy the demands of the Public Use Clause. (Docket No. 162, pp. ...


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