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Bello v. Edgewater Park Sewerage Authority

United States District Court, D. New Jersey, Camden Vicinage

October 26, 2017



          ROBERT B. KUGLER United States District Judge

         THIS MATTER having come before the Court upon defendant Edgewater Park Sewerage Authority's (“EPSA”) motion for summary judgment, plaintiff Jeffrey Bello's (“Bello”) cross-motion for summary judgment, and Bello's motion seeking an emergency preliminary injunction. For the reasons set forth in the opinion below, EPSA's motion for summary judgment is GRANTED, and Bello's cross-motion for summary judgment and motion seeking an emergency preliminary injunction are both DENIED.


         A. Procedural History

         On September 9, 2015, Bello filed a complaint and motion for a preliminary injunction against EPSA and the State of New Jersey.[1] (Doc. No. 1; Doc. No. 2). This was denied. (Doc. No. 3). On September 29, 2015, Bellow filed a second motion for a preliminary injunction. (Doc. No. 7). This court heard argument on this motion on November 9, 2015 and it was denied. (Doc. No. 19). Bello filed another motion for a preliminary injunction on August 8, 2016. (Doc. No. 46). This motion was denied on September 30, 2016. (Doc. No. 53). On October 31, 2016, Bello filed an amended complaint. (Doc. No. 62). EPSA answered on November 22, 2016 and filed its motion for summary judgment on May 1, 2017. (Doc. No. 62; Doc. No. 70). Bello replied and filed his own cross-motion for summary judgment on May 19, 2017. (Doc. No. 71). He then filed a motion for an emergency preliminary injunction on August 18, 2017. (Doc. No. 74).

         B. Factual Background

         At issue are unpaid bills stemming from Bello's home's connection to EPSA's public sewage line. See Am. Compl. at 6 (Doc. No. 62).[2] The subject property is located at 143 E. Warren St., Edgewater Park, New Jersey. Id. It is classified by EPSA as a four unit home for sewage cost assessment and billing purposes. Id. Bello disputes EPSA's designation and billing practices as to the home; he alleges that only three people have ever resided there at one time. Id. Bello further alleges that he has been charged “false connection fees, ” was provided “false information” that led to the public sewer line's initial installment, and that in 2010, an EPSA representative admitted as much and declared that Bello was overcharged.

         Since this statement, Bello has refused to pay EPSA-asserting that these bills are false taxes-and has instead tried to bill the agency himself. He has not pursued available state remedies. Instead, Bello says that he “requested help” from every “feasible entity” in New Jersey but to no avail. Pl. Mot. Prelim. Inj. at 7. Bello has not brought suit in New Jersey Superior Court because he claims that he does not have standing. Id. at 13. Bello now faces a tax lien on his house which he asserts will force him into bankruptcy. See Id. at 15 (Doc. No. 74).

         II. STANDARD

         A. Summary Judgment Standard

         The court should grant a motion for summary judgment when the moving party “shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). An issue is “material” to the dispute if it could alter the outcome, and a dispute of a material fact is “genuine” if “a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986); Matsushida Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (“Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, there is no ‘genuine issue for trial.'”) (quoting First National Bank of Arizona v. Cities Service Co., 391 U.S. 253, 289 (1968)). In deciding whether there is any genuine issue for trial, the court is not to weigh evidence or decide issues of fact. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. Because fact and credibility determinations are for the jury, the non-moving party's evidence is to be believed and ambiguities construed in her favor. Id. at 255; Matsushida, 475 U.S. at 587.

         Although the movant bears the burden of demonstrating that there is no genuine issue of material fact, the non-movant likewise must present more than mere allegations or denials to successfully oppose summary judgment. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256. The nonmoving party must at least present probative evidence from which jury might return a verdict in his favor. Id. at 257. The movant is entitled to summary judgment where the non-moving party fails to “make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).

         B. Temporary Restraining Order Standard

         Fed. R. Civ. P. 65 governs injunctions and restraining orders. The Third Circuit has repeatedly held that an injunction “is an extraordinary remedy, which should be granted only in limited circumstances.” Frank's GMC Truck Ctr., Inc. v. Gen. Motors Corp., 847 F.2d 100, 102 (3d Cir. 1988) (citing United States v. City of Philadelphia, 644 F.2d 187, 191 n.1 (3d Cir. ...

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