United States District Court, District of Columbia
James T. Pitts, Bailey Law, P.C., Washington, DC, for Defendants/Third Party Plaintiff.
Thomas Louis Koger, Office of the Attorney General, Washington, DC, for Third Party Defendant.
ELLEN SEGAL HUVELLE, District Judge.
Third party plaintiff Bobby Mills has sued the District of Columbia Government (" the District" ), seeking relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, for the alleged taking of certain real property in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution. Mills seeks
declaratory relief, mandamus, unspecified damages, and attorneys' fees. Before the Court are the District's Motion to Dismiss the Complaint (" Def. Mot." ), Mills' Response (" Pl. Resp." ), and the District's Reply (" Def. Reply" ). For the reasons set forth below, the District's motion will be granted.
I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND
On August 11, 1994, the Law Offices of Hazel & Thomas filed an application with the Government of the District of Columbia, Department of Finance and Revenue (" OTR" ), to subdivide Lot 810 in Square 4112. ( See Pl. Resp. at 3; Ex. A to Third Party Complaint for Declaratory Relief, Mandamus, and Damages Against the District of Columbia (" Compl." ).) The record owner of the lot was identified in the application as Crimson Bryant Mews Limited Partnership (" CB Mews" ), a Virginia limited partnership acting through Crimson Partners, LP, general partner; Apartment 1904, Inc., its general partner; and Lewis D. Friedland, vice-president. ( See Ex. A to Compl.) The requested subdivision would create two equal lots, each measuring 17 feet wide. ( See id. )  The cover letter that accompanied the application asked that it be processed " as soon as possible, as the subject property is in the process of being sold." ( Id. )
On December 8, 1994, while the subdivision application was pending, CB Mews sold Lot 810, Square 4112 to Bobby Mills. ( See Compl. ¶ 7; Ex. B to Compl.) That property was described in the deed and recorded in the Office of the Recorder of Deeds for the District of Columbia as:
Lot 810 as contained in Lot 21, Square 4112, as per a plat duly recorded in the Office of the Surveyor for the District of Columbia in Deed Book 178, Page 153.
Note: As of the date hereof the said property is designated on the records of the Assessor for the District of Columbia for assessment and taxation purposes as Lot 810 in Square 4112.
(Compl. ¶ 9; Ex. B to Compl.) On the same date, Mills executed a Deed of Trust with B.F. Saul Mortgage Company (" Saul" ), pursuant to which he obtained financing to purchase the property. ( See Compl. ¶ 10; Ex. C to Compl.) Mills was never notified that the subdivision application was pending. ( See Compl. ¶ 8.) After Lot 810 was conveyed from CB Mews to Mills, CB Mews ceased to exist and its authority to do business was terminated by the Commonwealth of Virginia on December 31, 1994. ( See id. ¶ 22.)
On February 3, 1995, the Surveyor for the District of Columbia entered a plat of record subdividing Lot 810 into two new tax lots designated as Lot 860 and Lot 861. ( See Compl. ¶ 11; Ex. D to Compl.) At the time the plat was recorded, Mills was the owner in fee simple of Lot 810 and CB Mews did not retain any right, title, or interest in the property. ( See Compl ¶ 11.) The plat was not signed by Mills or Saul, nor was an affidavit reflecting that Mills was the owner attached to the plat, in violation of D.C. regulations.  ( See id. ¶¶ 16, 18; Ex. D to Compl.)
After Lot 810 was subdivided, OTR issued tax bills for Lots 860 and 861, but not for Lot 810. ( See Compl. ¶ 19.) The tax bills for Lot 860 were sent to Saul and then, when Mills refinanced, to Navy Federal Credit Union, and were paid from Mill's escrow account. ( See id. ¶ 19; 11/9/11 Affidavit of Bobby Mills (" Mills Affidavit" ), Ex. E to Compl.) The tax bills for Lot 861 were sent to an unknown person or persons and were never paid. ( See Compl. ¶¶ 19, 21.) On July 20, 2001, the District sold Lot 861 to Fidelity Tax Co. Op. at a tax sale, with CB Mews listed as the " assessed" party. ( See id. ¶¶ 21, 23.) On April 22, 2002, Fidelity Tax Co Op assigned its right, title, and interest in Tax Lot 861 to Heartwood 88 LLC (" Heartwood" ). ( See id. ¶ 23; Ex. G to Compl.) On June 6, 2002, Heartwood foreclosed on Lot 861. ( See Compl. ¶ 24 (citing Heartwood 88, LLC v. Bryant Mews, et al., Case No. 02-CA-004605 L).)
On August 11, 2003, Mills purported to sell his property to Carlos Speed. ( See Compl. ¶ 25; Ex. H to Compl.). The deed identified the property as:
Lot 810 as contained in lot 21, square 4112, as per a plat duly recorded at the office of the surveyor for the District of ...