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Mangal v. City of Pascagoula

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Southern Division

July 29, 2019

KESHAV G. MANGAL and MUKESH MANGAL PLAINTIFFS
v.
CITY OF PASCAGOULA, JACKSON COUNTY, MS DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

          LOUIS GUIROLA, JR., UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         BEFORE THE COURT is the [3] Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendant City of Pascagoula. The Motion argues that Plaintiffs' Complaint should be dismissed because it fails to state a claim for relief. Plaintiffs responded to the Motion, and Defendants filed a reply brief. Because Plaintiffs failed to adequately address the legal arguments raised in Defendant's Motion - including whether their takings claim is ripe - the Court ordered supplemental briefing. (See Order Taking Under Advisement Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 11.) Each side has submitted a supplemental brief. Having considered the submissions of the parties, the record, and relevant law, the Court finds that Defendant's Motion to Dismiss should be granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs Keshav Mangal and Mukesh Mangal owned a four-plex property located on Jackson Avenue in Pascagoula, Mississippi. According to their Complaint, the City of Pascagoula attempted to exercise eminent domain and take their property under a “quick take” procedure for the purpose of expanding city- owned athletic fields. The City filed suit in the Special Court of Eminent Domain of Jackson County, Mississippi, paid 85% of a court-appointed appraiser's determined appraisal value for their property into the eminent domain court's registry, and gained immediate possession of Plaintiff's property. Plaintiffs assert that the City had no right to utilize the statutory “quick take” procedure, but nonetheless did so and mailed Plaintiffs' four-plex tenants a letter advising that the tenants should vacate the premises because the property was to be condemned.

         Public court records attached to the parties' briefing indicate that the Court of Eminent Domain initially granted the City the right of immediate title and possession of Plaintiff's property on August 2, 2018 (see Resp. Opp. Ex. B, ECF No. 9-2), but then set aside that decision by agreed order on October 16, 2018. (See Resp. Opp. Ex. C, ECF No. 9-3.) On January 7, 2019, the Court of Eminent Domain entered an Agreed Final Judgment, which ordered

that total compensation and damages due to Defendants, Keshav G. Mangal and Mukesh K. Mangal, is $160, 000.00; inclusive of any additional amounts that may be allowed by statute or otherwise with the sole exception of Defendants' claims regarding removal of their tenants and the use of ‘quick take' by the City . . . .

(Mot. Dismiss Ex. A, 2, ECF No. 3-1 (emphasis added).) Thus, the Agreed Final Judgment entered in the Court of Eminent Domain did not dispose of all of Plaintiffs' claims related to the City's exercise of eminent domain over their four- plex. Explicitly not resolved by the Agreed Final Judgment was Plaintiffs' claim that the City effected an earlier taking by sending a letter to Plaintiffs' tenants advising them to vacate the premises because the property was going to be condemned. The same is true of Plaintiffs' claim that the City's use of Mississippi's “quick take” procedure was improper. Plaintiffs' Complaint, filed in state court on February 20, 2019, asserts claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violation of their Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights and rights under the corresponding provisions of the Mississippi Constitution.

         On April 9, 2019, the City removed this case from the County Court of Jackson County, Mississippi, invoking federal question jurisdiction. Shortly thereafter, the City filed the instant Motion to Dismiss. The Motion argues (1) Plaintiffs fail to state a constitutional takings claim, (2) any takings claim Plaintiffs could state would be unripe, and (3) any other claims made by Plaintiffs are too vague to plead a plausible claim to relief.

         II. DISCUSSION

         a. Motion to Dismiss Standard

         To survive a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim is facially plausible “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id.

         In deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court accepts all well-pleaded facts as true and views them in the light most favorable to Plaintiff. New Orleans City v. Ambac Assur. Corp., 815 F.3d 196, 199 (5th Cir. 2016). But “the complaint must allege more than labels and conclusions, a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do, and factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Jabaco, Inc. v. Harrah's Operating Co., Inc., 587 F.3d 314, 318 (5th Cir. 2009). “While legal conclusions can provide the complaint's framework, they must be supported by factual allegations.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 664. “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Id. at 678.

         “Documents that a defendant attaches to a motion to dismiss are considered part of the pleadings if they are referred to in the plaintiff's complaint and are central to her claim.” Causey v. Sewell Cadillac-Chevrolet, Inc., 394 F.3d 285, 288 (5th Cir. 2004). The orders entered in the proceedings before the Special Court of Eminent Domain, though not specifically referred to in Plaintiffs' Complaint, are clearly central to their claim. Moreover, these orders may be considered because they are all matters of public record. See Kaempe v. Myers, 367 F.3d 958, 965 (D.C. Cir. 2004) (“[T]he cited documents are public records subject to judicial notice on a motion to dismiss.”); Pension Ben. Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Indus., Inc., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993) (“To decide a motion to dismiss, courts generally consider only the allegations contained in the complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint and matters of public record.”). The Court may thus consider these orders without converting the City's Motion to one for summary judgment.

         b. The Issue of Ripeness is Mooted by a Recent ...


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