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Walker v. City of New Castle

Superior Court of Delaware, New Castle

June 23, 2014

RUSSELL E. WALKER, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF NEW CASTLE, JOHN LLOYD, et al., Defendants.

Submitted: April 29, 2014

Upon Defendants City of New Castle and John Lloyd's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings GRANTED.

TRIAL BY JURY OF TWELVE DEMANDED

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Eric M. Davis Judge

INTRODUCTION

This is a civil action. Plaintiff Russell E. Walker contends that Defendants City of New Castle ("New Castle") and John Lloyd, among others, caused damage to him and his property (two residences formerly owned by Mr. Walker) through numerous violations of the Delaware Fair Housing Act and United States Constitution as well as other alleged wrongs. Many of Mr. Walker's allegations stem from code violations issued by Mr. Lloyd, who is a code enforcement officer for New Castle. The two properties are located at 637 and 717 Clymer Street in New Castle, Delaware. Mr. Walker rented these residences to mentally disabled individuals and other minorities in what he refers to as "family style" housing.

On a previous Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, this Court granted judgment on Mr. Walker's claims. The Court held that Mr. Walker did not plead facts that demonstrated that Mr. Walker had standing to assert the claims set forth in the complaint. The Court, however, allowed Mr. Walker leave to amend his complaint so as to demonstrate that he had standing. Mr. Walker then filed a Response to Order Denying in Part Motion of Defendants' for Partial Judgment (the "Response"), which Defendants have treated as an amended complaint.

Now before the Court is Defendants' re-asserted Motion for Partial Judgment on the Pleadings (the "Motion"). For the reasons stated in this memorandum opinion and at the hearing on the Motion, this Court holds that the Motion is GRANTED.

PROCEDURALBACKGROUND

Mr. Walker's Contentions

In his Response, Mr. Walker alleges numerous violations of his Fourth Amendment rights and pursues a civil cause of action against New Castle and Mr. Lloyd under 42 U.S.C. 1983. Mr. Walker contends that he had an expectation of privacy under the Fourth Amendment at 637 Clymer Street because he was attempting to continue to operate his business. Mr. Walker alleges that Defendants had a policy or practice of warrantless searches. Mr. Walker alleges that these warrantless searches occurred between September 23, 2011 and December 6, 2011. Also, Mr. Walker contends that the new owners unlawfully ejected the current residents without obtaining a writ of possession.

Mr. Walker further alleges that despite being denied the right to conduct his business New Castle and Mr. Lloyd continued to prosecute Mr. Walker for exterior code violations. Mr. Walker argues that he had a fourth amendment right to be free to be left alone, from having to go to court, from having to defend against prosecutions and pay fines for code violations because Mr. Walker did not own 637 Clymer Street and New Castle and Mr. Lloyd prevented him from doing business there.

Mr. Walker also alleges that New Castle and Mr. Lloyd violated his Fourteenth Amendment rights to equal protection when Mr. Walker was cited for numerous code violations and prosecutions when other similar homes in Dobbinsville were not. Mr. Walker contends that 637 Clymer was targeted in a campaign of aggressive code enforcement and prosecutions because he housed unrelated disabled persons and other minorities together.

Mr. Walker also alleges disparate treatment under the Delaware Fair Housing Act, the U.S. Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities act. Mr. Walker contends that the property maintenance code and public nuisance ordinance allowed New Castle and Mr. Lloyd leeway with which to discriminate against minorities' housing rights. Mr. Walker argues ...


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