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Black v. City of Newark

March 10, 2008

JOHN D. BLACK, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITY OF NEWARK, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rosemary M. Collyer United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

On September 17, 2007, John D. Black, proceeding pro se, filed a Complaint against the City of Newark and several others, alleging violations of his 5th and 14th Amendment rights. Mr. Black claims that he is the owner of property located at 59 Magnolia Street in Newark, that he acquired this property from Christopher C. Evans, a family member, who donated the property to Mr. Black "in order for [Mr. Black] to have a place to reside," and that he was not compensated for the property when it was taken by Newark through eminent domain. Compl. at 2.

Before the Court is Defendant City of Newark's Motion to Dismiss the Complaint ("Def.'s Mem.") [Dkt. # 13]. For the reasons that follow, the Motion will be granted.

I. BACKGROUND

A. The Condemnation Litigation

In 2004, the City of Newark, New Jersey acquired real property, located in Newark at 59 Magnolia Street, through eminent domain. Newark filed a condemnation complaint on March 16, 2004 in the Superior Court of New Jersey. See Def.'s Mem., Decl. of John B. Nance ("Nance Decl."), Ex. A. Newark named Christopher Evans as the defendant, the record owner of the property.

On June 18, 2004, Newark became the owner of the property upon filing a Declaration of Taking in the Superior Court. See Nance Decl., Ex. B. Under New Jersey law, a condemnor is vested with title to property upon the filing of such a Declaration. See N.J. Stat. § 20:3-21.

Several months later, Newark and Mr. Evans settled the litigation and Mr. Evans agreed to accept $72,000 as compensation for his Magnolia Street property. The parties set forth the terms of their settlement in a Consent Judgment, which was executed by the Honorable Patricia K. Costello and filed in the Superior Court on March 11, 2005. See Nance Decl., Ex. C. The Consent Judgment was a final judgment on the condemnation litigation.

B. Related Cases

Plaintiff John Black alleges that he, not Mr. Evans, was the owner of the Magnolia Street property, and that by compensating Mr. Evans rather than him, Newark violated Mr. Black's constitutional rights. This is the third in a series of related cases in which Mr. Black has alleged that he was the rightful owner of the Magnolia Street property when Newark acquired it.

Mr. Black asserted his first claim in a post-judgment motion after the state court condemnation litigation, nearly a year after the Consent Judgment between Newark and Mr. Evans was entered by the court. See Nance Decl., Ex. D ("Motion to consolidate this motions to quit [sic] title With the IN LIEU to be [heard] on March 31, 2006 or [at] the time according to law should be [heard] what[]ever date come[s] first"). In the motion, Mr. Black, a non-party to the condemnation litigation, sought to quiet title to the Magnolia Street property in his favor pursuant to an alleged sale from Mr. Evans to him. See id. ("On September 15, 2004 Christopher C. Evans conveyed to the John D. Black plaintiff the [Magnolia Street property]."). The Superior Court administratively dismissed his motion on March 31, 2006. Id., Ex. E.

Several months later, on June 14, 2006, Mr. Black filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina. Id., Ex. F. In that complaint, Mr. Black again alleged that he was the owner of the Magnolia Street property when Newark acquired it and that Newark violated his Fifth Amendment rights by compensating Mr. Evans for it rather than him. Mr. Black sought $100,000,000 in compensation and $5,000,000,000 in punitive damages for the constitutional violations.

Newark moved to dismiss the North Carolina complaint for lack of standing, lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and improper venue. On December 19, 2006, Magistrate Judge Wallace Dixon recommended granting the motion under Rule 12(b)(3) for improper venue. Id., Ex. G. Judge Dixon concluded that the matter should be dismissed rather than transferred to a more appropriate venue because "it appear[ed] that [Mr. Black] filed [the North Carolina complaint] in bad faith or in an effort to harass [Newark]." Id., Ex. G at 3. "Defendant has presented evidence showing that Plaintiff has already litigated this very issue in New Jersey state court." Id. United States District Judge William Osteen adopted the recommendation and dismissed the complaint by order dated April 20, 2007. Id., Ex. H.

Having lost before the Superior Court of New Jersey and the District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, Mr. Black seeks to renew his claims before this Court. In his Complaint, Mr. Black again alleges that Newark violated his constitutional rights by compensating Mr. Evans for the Magnolia Street Property rather ...


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