Posted by: Patricia Salkin | December 22, 2018

Fed. Dist. Court in NY Holds Statue of Limitations for § 1983 Claim Accrued at Improper Issuance of Violation Notice

This post was authored by Matthew Loeser, Esq.

Plaintiffs Mary Ann Dellinger and Carmen Tomeo commenced this action against defendant seeking relief, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1986, and Article I, § 6 of the New York State Constitution, for the alleged selective enforcement of the Huntington Town Code to devalue property owned by the plaintiffs. The Town of Huntington and the Non-Town defendants each moved to dismiss the Complaint, and plaintiffs cross moved for default judgment against the Non-Town defendants. The Dismissal Motions and Default Judgment Motion were referred to Magistrate Judge Gary R. Brown for a Report and Recommendation. The Magistrate Judge then recommended that the Default Judgment Motion be denied, the Motions to Dismiss be granted, and the Complaint be dismissed with prejudice.

Here, in finding all of Plaintiffs’ § 1983 claims fell outside of the applicable three-year statute of limitation, Magistrate Judge Brown rejected plaintiffs’  contention that their claims accrued upon the Town’s non-enforcement of its Code after the 2014 sale of the property. While plaintiffs cited the general proposition that a § 1983 claim “accrues when the plaintiff has a compete cause of action, or when the plaintiff can file suit and obtain relief,” the court noted the issue of that case was whether there were extraordinary circumstances, such as fraud or concealment, warranting the equitable tolling of plaintiff’s § 1983 claim . As the court found that no such extraordinary circumstances were present in this case, it held that accrual period did not apply.

The court found the relevant time period to be applied to plaintiffs’ § 1983 selective enforcement claims was at the time “the Defendants conspired to selectively enforce the Huntington Town Code to devalue the Property” such that the Non-Town Defendants could buy it “at less than market value,” as alleged by plaintiffs in their Complaint. Accordingly, plaintiffs’ claim accrued no later than the allegedly improper issuance of the Violation notice, or the purportedly improper statements to plaintiffs’ potential purchaser: both of which occurred outside the limitations period. As such, the court held that Magistrate Judge Brown’s Report was not facially erroneous, and it adopted in its entirely.

Dellinger v Town of Huntington, 2018 WL 6168181 (EDNY 11/26/2018)

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