United States District Court, D. New Jersey
JOSEPH G. WOJAK, Plaintiff,
BOROUGH OF GLEN RIDGE, GLEN RIDGE BOARD OF EDUCATION, TOWN OF BLOOMFIELD, BLOOMFIELD BOARD OF EDUCATION, JOHN DOES 1-10, JANE DOES 1-10, and ABC CORPORATIONS 1-10, Defendants.
MCNULTY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
primarily for the parties and thus do not explain the entire
factual and procedural history. Plaintiff Joseph G. Wojak
sued Borough of Glen Ridge, the Glen Ridge Board of Education
("Glen Ridge BOE"), the State of New Jersey, the
Township of Bloomfield, and the Bloomfield Board of Education
("Bloomfield BOE") when he discovered that his
property's school-district classification had been
changed from Glen Ridge to Bloomfield years before- allegedly
without his knowledge. He claimed that this constituted a
regulatory taking and a denial of due process. The regulatory
taking claims and the claims against the State of New Jersey
were dismissed. Related claims by other plaintiffs were also
before the court are motions for reconsideration by the
Borough of Glen Ridge, the Glen Ridge BOE, the Township of
Bloomfield, and the Bloomfield BOE. (ECF Nos. 56, 57, 59,
60). For the reasons stated below, these motions are denied.
standards governing a motion for reconsideration are well
settled. See generally D.N.J. Loc. Civ. R. 7.1(i).
Reconsideration is an "extraordinary remedy," to be
granted "sparingly." NL Indus. Inc. v.
Commercial Union Ins. Co., 935 F.Supp. 513, 516 (D.N.J.
1996). Generally, reconsideration is granted in three
scenarios: (1) when there has been an intervening change in
the law; (2) when new evidence has become available; or (3)
when necessary to correct a clear error of law or to prevent
manifest injustice. See North River Ins. Co. v. CIGNA
Reinsurance Co., 52 F.3d 1194, 1218 (3d Cir. 1995);
Carmichael v. Everson, No. 3-cv-4787, 2004 WL
1587894, at *1 (D.N.J. May 21, 2004). Local Rule 7.1(i)
requires such a motion to specifically identify "the
matter or controlling decisions which the parry believes the
Judge or Magistrate Judge has overlooked." Id.; see
also Egloff v. New Jersey Air Nat'l Guard, 684
F.Supp. 1275, 1279 (D.N.J. 1988). Evidence or arguments that
were available at the time of the original decision will not
support a motion for reconsideration. Damiano v. Sony
Music Entm't, Inc., 975 F.Supp. 623, 636 (D.N.J.
1997); see also North River Ins. Co., 52 F.3d at
1218; Bapu Corp. v. Choice Hotels Int'l, Inc.,
No. 7-cv-5938, 2010 WL 5418972, at *4 (D.N.J. Dec. 23, 2010)
(citing P. Schoenfeld Asset Mgmt LLC v. Cendant
Corp., 161 F.Supp.2d 349, 352 (D.N.J. 2001)).
argue that reconsideration is necessary to correct a clear
error of law or to prevent manifest injustice. They do not
argue that there has been an intervening change in the law or
that new evidence has become available. While the defendants
make separate motions for reconsideration, there is a
significant overlap in the arguments and I thus address them
together. The defendants claim: (A) there is no legal or
due-process requirement to provide notice about
school-assignment changes to individuals who do not have
school-aged children; and (B) another party is liable.
Requirement of Notice and an Opportunity to be Heard
Glen Ridge BOE argues that there is no statutory or
constitutional requirement that defendants provide notice to
Mr. Wojak in these circumstances. It is true that Mr. Wojak
has not identified a specific statute that provides him with
procedural rights. However, Mr. Wojak may have a due process
claim under two venerable Supreme Court precedents.
Supreme Court cases of Londoner v. Denver, 210 U.S.
373 (1905), and Bi-Metallic Inv. Co. v. State Bd. of
Equalization, 239 U.S. 441 (1915) establish that
legislative acts affecting a broad group of people do not
trigger individual due process rights such as notice and an
opportunity to be heard. However, adjudicative acts that
affect an individual or a small group of people, based on
their unique circumstances, may necessitate additional
procedural safeguards to satisfy due process.
Bi-Metallic, the State Board of Equalization and the
Colorado Tax Commission increased the valuation of all
taxable property in Denver by 40 percent. 239 U.S. at 443-44.
Plaintiff, a property owner in Denver, argued that he was not
given an opportunity to be heard and was thus denied due
process contrary to the Fourteenth Amendment. Id. at
444. The Supreme Court disagreed:
Where a rule of conduct applies to more than a few people, it
is impracticable that everyone should have a direct voice in
its adoption. The Constitution does not require all public
acts to be done in a town meeting or an assembly of the
whole. General statutes within the state power are passed
that affect the person or property of individuals, sometimes
to the point of ruin, without giving them a chance to be
heard. Their rights are protected in the only way that they
can be in a complex society, by their power, immediate or
remote, over those who make the rule. If the result in this
case had been reached, as it might have been by the
state's doubling the rate of taxation, no one would
suggest that the 14th Amendment was violated unless every
person affected had been allowed an opportunity to raise his
voice against it before the body intrusted by the state
Constitution with the power.
Id. at 445.
Court distinguished these circumstances from those in
Londoner v. Denver, where a local board had to
determine "whether, in what amount, and upon whom"
a tax for paving a street should be levied.
Londoner, 210 U.S. at 385. In these circumstances,
the individuals had a right to additional procedural
safeguards. Id. at 386. "A relatively small
number of persons was concerned, who were exceptionally
affected, in each case upon individual grounds, and it was
held that they had a right to a hearing."
Bi-Metallic, 239 U.S. at 446 (discussing
Londoner). In short, "[w] hen the action has a
limited focus (only a few people or properties are affected)
and is based on grounds that are individually assessed, it
may be more adjudicative than legislative and ...