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Iman v. Borough of Meyersdale

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

July 8, 2019

CONNIE IMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
BOROUGH OF MEYERSDALE, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          KIM R. GIBSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. Introduction

         Pending before the Court is Defendant Borough of Meyersdale's (the "Borough") Motion to Dismiss Under F.R.C.P. 12(b)(6) (ECF No. 6). Plaintiff Connie Iman failed to file a response to the Motion within the 21-day response period. Thus, the Borough's Motion is ripe for disposition.

         For the reasons that follow, the Borough's Motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

         II. Jurisdiction and Venue

         Ms. Iman brings two federal claims over which this Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1343.

         Venue is proper in the Western District of Pennsylvania under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2) as a substantial portion of the events and omissions giving rise to Ms. Iman's claims occurred in this District and the property that is the subject of this action is situated in this District.

         III. Background[1]

         On August 21, 2013, Ms. Iman purchased real property located at 306 Main Street, Meyersdale, Pennsylvania (the "Subject Property"). (ECF No. 1 ¶ 8.) The Subject Property was destroyed by a fire on April 29, 2015. (Id. ¶ 9.)

         On April 30, 2015, a Borough Councilwoman approached Ms. Iman and offered to purchase the Subject Property for $6, 000. (Id. ¶ 10.)

         Then, on November 8, 2016, the Borough passed Resolution 12-2016 authorizing the taking of the Subject Property. (Id. ¶ 11.) The stated purpose of the Resolution was to eliminate blight in the Borough and create a public park. (Id. ¶ 12.)

         On December 29, 2016, the Borough advised Ms. Iman that if she failed to provide a reasonable request for the purchase of the Subject Property, the Borough would proceed with an eminent-domain action. (Id. ¶ 13.) In response, Ms. Iman gave the Borough a list detailing the $36, 479.23 in expenses she incurred in purchasing the Subject Property and improving it after the fire. (Id. ¶ 14.) The Borough "unjustly" rejected Ms. Iman's reasonable request for these expenses and filed a Declaration of Taking of the Subject Property on April 7, 2017, in the Somerset County Court of Common Pleas. (Id. ¶¶ 15-16.) Ms. Iman filed Preliminary Objections to the Declaration, and the Borough responded by filing an Amended Declaration of Taking. (Id. ¶¶ 18-19.) The Court of Common Pleas overruled the Preliminary Objections and appointed a Board of Viewers. (W.¶¶ 20-21.)

         On January 18, 2019, Ms. Iman and the Borough agreed upon a monetary settlement in the amount of $5, 000. (Id. ¶ 23.) In the settlement agreement (the "Settlement"), Ms. Iman reserved the right to file a federal civil-rights action related to the Borough's exercise of its eminent-domain power. (Id.)

         Ms. Iman alleges that $5, 000 does not represent just compensation for the taking of her property. (Id. ¶ 24.) Further, she believes that the Borough intentionally treated her differently than similarly situated property owners without a rational basis for this differential treatment. (Id. ¶ 26.) She also alleges that the Borough's actions were not supported by a legitimate purpose and were motivated by animosity toward her. (Id. ¶ 27.)

         On March 6, 2019, Ms. Iman filed her Complaint (ECF No. 1). In the Complaint, she brings two counts against the Borough under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Id.) In Count I-Unlawful Taking, Ms. Iman claims that the Borough's taking of the Subject Property was not rationally related to a conceivable public purpose and that the Borough did not pay her just compensation for the taking of the Subject Property, in violation of the Takings Clause of the United States Constitution. (Id. ¶¶ 30-31.) In Count II-Equal Protection-Class of One, Ms. Iman claims that there was no rational basis for the difference in treatment between her and other similarly situated property owners. (Id. ¶ 36.)

         The Borough filed its Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 6) and brief in support (ECF No. 7) on May 7, 2019.

         First, the Borough argues that the case is moot because Ms. Iman has already been made whole under Pennsylvania eminent-domain law. (ECF No. 6 ¶ 39.)

         Second, the Borough asserts that the doctrine of claim preclusion prohibits this Court from reconsidering issues that were addressed by the Somerset County Court of Common Pleas. (Id. at 5.)

         Third, the Borough seeks to dismiss Count I because Ms. Iman received the maximum amount allowed by law for the taking of her property, and the Borough took Ms. Iman's property for a conceivable public purpose-the creation of a public park. (Id. at 4-5.)

         Fourth, the Borough seeks dismissal of Count II because Ms. Iman does not plausibly allege the existence of similarly situated property owners or that she was treated differently than those owners. (ECF No. 6 ¶¶ 31-32, 35.)

         Ms. Iman did not file a response to the Borough's Motion within this Court's 21-day response period. IV. Legal Standard A. Motion to ...


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