On Wednesday, March 13, U.S. Specialty Insurance Company filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Charlestown, the Board of Public Works, the Redevelopment Commission, all members of the city government previously named as defendants in the landlord’s lawsuit, and all named plaintiffs in that same lawsuit, as well as the named plaintiffs in the Pleasant Ridge Neighborhood lawsuit.
As the City’s insurer, U.S. Specialty has asked the court to declare that the city’s fining activities in Pleasant Ridge fall outside their contract with the city and to declare that they are not required to pay any monetary judgments that any other court might impose on the city as these cases move toward their conclusions. The insurance company bases their argument on a number of facts, including that their contract excludes acts related to zoning, regulatory, or building code decisions, and also excludes claims related to fraud, dishonesty, or bad faith. The full document is available here: PLED-Complaint for Declaratory Judgment – US Specialty Insurance Co
On Friday, March 15, Judge Sarah Evans Barker issued an order in the federal landlords lawsuit , aka “F&J Apartments, LLC, et al. (Plaintiffs) v. G Robert Hall Individually and in his official capacity as Mayor of the City of Charlestown, Indiana, et al. (Defendants).” This order dismisses the third of four claims brought against the city and government representatives by landlords in Pleasant Ridge.
As a reminder, the case is based on four causes of civil action:
- Count 1: 42 USC § 1983 Claim for Violation of Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment
- Count 2: 42 USC § 1985(3) Claim for Conspiracy to Deprive Plaintiffs of Equal Protection Under Fourteenth Amendment
- Count 3: 18 USC § 1964 Civil Claim for Racketeering for Conspiracy to Violate 18 USC § 1952 (“Hobbs Act”)
- Count 4: State Tort Claims of Conspiracy, Conversion, and Abuse of Process
The partial dismissal is based on a legal precedent that does not allow municipalities to be held liable for civil RICO claims (see page 4). The order also dismisses the RICO case against developer, Pleasant Ridge Redevelopment, LLC based on the plaintiff’s failure to demonstrate a “pattern of racketeering activity” (see page 6).
Important things to note about this partial dismissal include:
- This partial dismissal is ONLY for one of the four causes of civil action in the case.
- This partial dismissal is ONLY for the civil action brought against the city and has not “dismissed all allegations of any criminal activity” as has been boasted, since, to date, no criminal charges have been brought against the city in this matter.
- This partial dismissal is based on a legal technicality and the judge stated in her order that the “review establishes that Plaintiffs [landlords] have adequately alleged that Defendants [city] engaged in acts of extortion, which the parties do not dispute” (see page 6).
Read the full order here: Defendants’ Motions to Dismiss Granted