Posted by: Patricia Salkin | October 27, 2015

Third Circuit Court of Appeals Affirms Denial of Due Process Claims Against Township Following an Order to Enjoin Resident’s Use of Her Property

Tripodi owned a residential rental property in North Coventry Township, Pennsylvania. In 2007, the Township conducted an inspection of Tripodi’s property and discovered multiple building and health code violations. As a result, Tripodi was asked to remediate the code violations, but failed to do so. The Township filed a civil action against Tripodi in the Chester County Court of Common Pleas seeking a motion to enjoin all residential use of the property on grounds that the unabated code violations presented a risk to the safety of its residents. In April 2008, the Common Pleas Court entered an order memorializing an agreement between the Township and Tripodi which established a schedule for her correction of the code violations, but when Tripodi again failed to do so, the Common Pleas Court entered an order holding Tripodi in contempt. Following additional litigation in the case, the Common Pleas Court entered final judgment against Tripodi and ordered the sale of the property. Tripodi alleged generally that the Township deprived her of her “civil rights” under § 1983 by refusing to consider the repairs and improvements that she has made to her property. The District Court dismissed the case, and Tripodi appealed.

The court first noted that a local government may be sued under § 1983 only for acts implementing an official policy, practice or custom. Even assuming that Tripodi adequately alleged an underlying constitutional violation, the court found that she failed to set forth facts from which the Court could infer that the Township violated her rights while acting pursuant to a policy, practice or custom. Since the District Court correctly dismissed this federal claim, it was also found to be within its discretion in declining to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over her state-law claims.

Tripodi v North Coventry Township, 2015 WL 5813322 (3rd Cir CA 10/6/2015)

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