United States District Court, D. New Jersey
Peter DiPietro, Vineland, New Jersey, Pro se plaintiff.
Daniel James Kelly, Trenton, New Jersey, Counsel for Defendants State of New Jersey and Thomas M. North.
Matthew Paul Madden, Madden & Madden, Haddonfield, New Jersey, Counsel for Defendants Municipal Township of Franklinville, Franklinville Building Code Enforcement, Steven Rickershauser, and Ed Smith.
John C. Eastlack, Jr., Weir & Partners LLP, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, Counsel for Defendants Franklin Joint Municipal Court, John Doe, and Joan Sorbello Adams.
NOEL L. HILLMAN, District Judge.
Plaintiff, who is proceeding pro se, filed this action against various municipal entities and public officials claiming they violated his constitutional, statutory, and common law rights by participating in a scheme to illegally enforce New Jersey's Uniform Construction Code, N.J. Admin. Code §§ 5:23-1.1 to -12A.6, ("Building Code") against him. Before the Court are several related motions including: Plaintiff's Motion [Doc. No. 6] for Recusal; Motions [Doc. No. 7, 9, 10] to Dismiss Plaintiff's claims pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) made by all Defendants except Elk Joint Municipal Court; and Plaintiff's Motion [Doc. No. 12] for Summary Judgment.
For the reasons stated below, Plaintiff's Motion for Recusal will be denied, Defendants' motions to dismiss will be granted, and Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment will be denied as moot as it relates to the moving defendants and denied without prejudice as against Elk Joint Municipal Court pending Plaintiff's response to an Order to Show Cause.
The Court exercises jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 because some of Plaintiff's claims arise under the federal laws of the United States. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges civil rights violations pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985, and 1986, as well as violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO"), 18 U.S.C. §§ 1961-68. The Court has supplemental jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367 over Plaintiff's related state law claims.
Plaintiff alleges that, on or about February 7, 2012, he received a "Notice of Violation and Order to Terminate" and a "Notice and Order of Penalty" from Defendant Steven Rickershauser, the Franklin Township Construction Official, stating that Plaintiff was in violation of the Building Code. (Pl.'s Compl. [Doc. No. 1-1] ¶ 1.) Plaintiff claims Rickershauser falsified the violation notice since it was issued pursuant to an inspection on February 3, 2012 which never took place. (Id. ¶¶ 1-2.) The violation notice also threatened fines of $2, 000 per week which, according to Plaintiff, is four times the legal limit set by the Building Code. (Id. ¶ 1.)
The Complaint goes on to allege that, on or about March 12, 2012, Plaintiff received a complaint and summons from the Franklin Joint Municipal Court, based on the falsified violation notice, for violation of Section 2.31(b)(4) of the Building Code. (Id. ¶ 3.) Plaintiff claims he filed a motion challenging the constitutionality of "the statute, " but Defendant Judge Joan Sorbello Adams "refused to hear" the motion and transferred the case to the Elk Joint Municipal court. (Id. ¶¶ 4-6.) Plaintiff further alleges that, at a hearing before Judge Adams, Defendants Steven Rickershauser and John Doe, an unknown prosecutor, concealed the illegal nature of the penalties as well as the fact that Rickershauser falsified the violation notice. (Id. ¶ 8.) Plaintiff also claims that after his case was transferred he refiled his motion in the new forum, but Defendant Judge Thomas North also "refused to hear" the motion and issued a warrant for Plaintiff's arrest. (Id. ¶ 7.)
Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Rickershauser and Ed Smith conspired to illegally withhold Plaintiff's certificate of occupancy because an inspection of Plaintiff's property in 2007 revealed no violations of the Building Code. (Id. ¶ 10.) Plaintiff also claims that Defendants Rickershauser and Smith concealed and withheld documents that relate to his building inspections and violations from him. (Id. Statement of Facts ¶ 2.) Finally, Plaintiff alleges that all Defendants conspired with one another to commit and facilitate the allegedly illegal and malicious actions. (Id. Statement of Facts ¶¶ 1-2.)
Plaintiff asserted several counts against Defendants for state law violations and civil rights violations pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985, and 1986. Plaintiff also included a count ...