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Posted on: May 24, 2019

U.S. Court of Appeals Rules in Favor of City of Clarksburg

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PRESS RELEASE

 


Release Date: May 24, 2019                                


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

U.S. Court of Appeals Rules in Favor of City of Clarksburg



Clarksburg, WV – On May 20, 2019, the City of Clarksburg received a judgment from the United States Court of Appeals for Fourth Circuit affirming the Northern District’s Court ruling. The ruling dismissed the appeal of Thomas Jacquez and Thomas Herbert Fluharty, in his official capacity as Bankruptcy Trustee; Diana R. Jacquez, Wife vs. City of Clarksburg, Jim Hunt, Margaret Bailey, Martin Howe, Adam Barberio, Keith Kesling and Jonathan Davis. This was not the first time the Fourth Circuit entertained an appeal from Mr. and Mrs. Jacquez. On January 8, 2018, the Fourth Circuit dismissed the first appeal of the January 12, 2017, ruling issued by Irene M. Keeley, Senior District Judge, United States District Court of the Northern District of West Virginia.  Nearly a year after the Fourth Circuit disposed of the first appeal, Mr. and Mrs. Jacquez again filed an appeal on January 2, 2019. As this appeal was far outside the thirty (30) day timeframe to appeal the District Court’s ruling, the Fourth Circuit dismissed the appeal on May 20, 2019, after concluding it did not possess jurisdiction due to the untimely nature of the appeal.


The original case was filed by Mr. and Mrs. Jacquez in February 2014 wherein they alleged the City, its elected officials, and employees violated their Constitutional rights by engaging in code enforcement action against their properties. The Courts have all agreed the Jacquezes failed to establish a violation of their procedural due process rights. The Fourth Circuit previously concluded “A review of the notices, orders, and hearing procedures in the record convinces the Court that the City provided constitutionally sufficient procedural safeguards.” The Court also determined, “The City’s forms informed the Jacquezes about the specific properties that were the subject of code enforcement action, and identified the basic nature of problems that the City alleged. This constituted notice reasonably calculated, under all the circumstances, to apprise the Jacquezes of the code enforcement action.”


City Manager Martin Howe reiterated the comments made after the January 2018 ruling by the Fourth Circuit and again stated, “The City will and continues to move steadily forward with the demolition program. These types of lawsuits and allegations have been very costly, not only to the City and its citizens, but had brought the demolition program to a standstill for several years while these issues were litigated. The City’s goals have been and will continue to be to improve the neighborhoods and work with the lawful property owners.”


Council for the City, Kenneth Hopper and Keith Gamble of the law firm Pullin, Fowler, Flanagan, Brown & Poe, PLLC, provided the following statement, “As the timeframe to appeal had long since expired, we are pleased with this recent ruling from the Fourth Circuit. More than five years ago, we began defending the City in this specific civil action. From day one, we strongly believed the actions of the City were lawful, justified, and motivated by its desire to make Clarksburg a better community.”


Howe ended by stating, “The City administration and Council commends Mr. Hopper, Mr. Gamble, as well as their law firm on their continued professionalism and their confidence that the City had legally performed its duties.”


Mr. Jacquez, et al has ninety (90) days to file to the U.S. Supreme Court.


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