Posted by: Patricia Salkin | June 6, 2017

CT Appeals Court Dismisses Due Process and Takings Claims for Failure to Exhaust Administrative Remedies

Plaintiff, Enrico Mangiafico, alleged that municipal defendants, the Town of Farmington and five individuals sued in their official capacities, violated his due process rights, constituted an unconstitutional taking of his property, and inflicted severe emotional distress by: placing his residential property on the town’s blight list, issuing citations for blight violations, imposing daily fines for blight violations and recording liens on his property. On appeal, the plaintiff claimed that the trial court improperly granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss on the ground that he had failed to exhaust his administrative remedies as provided by statute and the Code of the Town of Farmington. Additionally, plaintiff argued that the court improperly granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment on his count seeking discharge of the municipal blight liens on the ground that he could not collaterally attack the validity of the assessments underlying those liens.
Plaintiff first contended that because he raised constitutional issues, the citation appeals process provided an inadequate remedy at law and he was entitled to pursue alternative relief. The court found that although the hearing officer refused to address certain issues raised by the plaintiff, the plaintiff was entitled to a de novo hearing before the Superior Court if he had chosen to pursue it. The Superior Court could have addressed all of the plaintiff’s claims, and if it determined that the town failed to prove the alleged violations of the blight ordinance and ordered the town to vacate the fines and release the real estate liens, it would not have been necessary to address constitutional issues, such as plaintiff’s takings claim. Accordingly, the remedy provided in the citation appeal process set forth in the Town Code was not inadequate or futile, and the plaintiff was required to exhaust his administrative remedies.
The plaintiff lastly claimed that the court erroneously concluded that he could not collaterally attack the validity of the municipal blight liens because he failed to avail himself of the proper procedure to appeal from the hearing officer’s assessment determinations. Here, in defendant’s motion for summary judgment, defendants submitted an affidavit by the town manager attesting to the procedure employed in securing and recording the blight liens. The plaintiff, however, did not file a counter-affidavit challenging the contents of the town manager’s affidavit. As such, the court found in the absence of an appeal, the town’s decisions were final and not reviewable.

Mangiafico v Town of Framington, 2017WL 1907179 (CT App. 5/16/2017)

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