LOURDES T. ARCHBOLD-GARRETT, wife of/ and; DAVID L. GARRETT, Plaintiffs-Appellants
NEW ORLEANS CITY; METRO DURR GROUP, Defendants-Appellees
from the United States District Court for the Eastern
District of Louisiana
KING, JONES, and GRAVES, Circuit Judges
H. JONES, Circuit Judge
prior notice, the City of New Orleans demolished a building
along the IH-10 service road that plaintiffs had recently
purchased at a tax sale. Yet two days before the demolition,
the City actually cancelled the Code Enforcement lien on the
property, which it obtained after sending notices only to the
owner from 18 years earlier. When the Garretts objected to
the demolition, the City added insult to injury by sending
them a bill for the costs. Unsurprisingly, they filed suit.
The question before this court is whether their lawsuit
survives the City's motion to dismiss for lack of
jurisdiction. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). We hold it does. We
VACATE the district court's judgment and
REMAND for further proceedings consistent
with this opinion.
Garretts' Section 1983 complaint alleged violations of
the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment, the Fourth
Amendment, and the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause.
property at issue is a parcel of land and a townhome that
used to stand off of I-10 in New Orleans. The City had owned
the property since 1998 after its previous owner, Charles
Jett, neglected to pay his taxes. The City's ownership
was recorded with the City Conveyance Office shortly
thereafter. Notwithstanding its ownership, the City
instituted housing Code Enforcement proceedings against Jett
Appellants purchased the property from the City on October 2,
2015, and recorded the conveyance on October 14. They aver
that the building on the property was structurally sound, and
the purchase documents contain no warnings of defects (though
the document makes no positive statement about the buildings
and improvements either).
of the sale to Appellants, or of its original tax sale
purchase, the City continued to pursue Jett for alleged code
enforcement deficiencies. An administrative judgment was
entered against Jett on October 30, ordering him to pay over
$12, 000 in fines and warning that the building could be
demolished in the future. A judgment lien was recorded on the
property on December 7, 2015. The Appellants were not named
in the judgment or lien, and they received no notice from the
City about the judgment or lien. All proceedings were against
Jett, the pre-1998 owner.
January 15, 2016, the Appellants' realtor noticed a sign
advising upcoming demolition of the property. When the
realtor informed them of the sign, they contacted the City.
After some back-and-forth with the Code Enforcement
department, Appellants persuaded the City to cancel the lien
against the property. The e-mail exchanges indicated that
Appellants intended to develop the property and resolve all
code enforcement issues. The lien was cancelled on January
days later, despite having cancelled the enforcement lien,
the City demolished the townhouse on the Appellants'
property. The Appellants had no warning.
counsel sent the City a letter on April 14 requesting
compensation for the wrongful demolition. The City responded
on April 19 with a bill exceeding $11, 000 for the demolition
costs. The bill informed the Appellants of their "right
to appeal the accuracy and reasonableness of these costs by
appearing at a hearing." Plaintiffs did not appeal.
Appellants filed this civil rights case in federal court on
October 28, 2016, alleging denial of due process and just
compensation under the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth
Amendments. The City moved to dismiss Appellants'
complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because
their claims were unripe. The district court agreed that the
Appellants' takings claim was jurisdictionally unripe
because they failed to seek compensation in state court. The
district court reasoned that the Appellants' failure to
seek compensation in state court also meant that their
intertwined procedural due process and Fourth Amendment
claims were unripe. Following dismissal of their suit, the
Appellants timely appealed.