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Mangal v. City of Pascagoula

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

December 12, 2019

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

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

          LOUIS GUIROLA, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         BEFORE THE COURT is the [19] Motion to Dismiss First Amended Complaint filed by Defendant City of Pascagoula. The Motion argues that Plaintiffs' Complaint should be dismissed because res judicata bars Plaintiff's claims and Plaintiffs otherwise fail to state a claim for relief. The Motion is fully briefed. Having considered the submissions of the parties, the record, and relevant law, the Court finds that Defendant's Motion to Dismiss should be granted in part and denied in part. It will be denied to the extent that Plaintiffs state a takings claim under the Fifth Amendment and otherwise granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The Court dismissed Plaintiffs' original Complaint for failure to state a claim. (See Mem. Op. & Order Granting Defendant's Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 14.) Plaintiffs were granted leave to amend their allegations to state a claim for relief and have filed their [15] First Amended Complaint. The First Amended Complaint contains no new factual allegations but attempts to better articulate violations of Plaintiffs' constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

         Plaintiffs Keshav Mangal and Mukesh Mangal owned a four-plex property located on Jackson Avenue in Pascagoula, Mississippi. Plaintiffs allege that the City of Pascagoula attempted to exercise eminent domain and take their property under a “quick take” procedure, see Miss. Code Ann. §§ 11-27-81 to 89, 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 - and had received legal counsel that the “quick take” procedure was inapplicable under the circumstances - 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.

         Filings in the state court record, which are attached to the City's Motion to Dismiss, indicate that the Court of Eminent Domain initially granted the City the right of immediate title and possession of Plaintiffs' property on August 2, 2018 (see Mot. Dismiss Ex. A, at 80-81, ECF No. 19-1), but then set aside that decision by agreed order on October 16, 2018. (See Id. at 36.) On January 7, 2019, the Court of Eminent Domain entered an Agreed Final Judgment, which stated the following:

The Court is advised that a compromise settlement has been reached between the parties, fixing Defendants, Keshav G. Mangal and Mukesh K. Mangal, total compensation and damages in the amount of $160, 000.00; and that all issues before the Court have now been resolved between the parties. The Court, being fully advised in the premises, accepts said settlement agreement, with the parties being bound hereto as if there had been a complete trial by jury and a Judgment rendered accordingly.
IT IS THEREFORE, ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that this Agreed Final Judgment be entered in this cause; that the completion of a trial by jury is waived by all parties; 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 . . . .

(Id. at 12-13 (emphasis added).)

         The Agreed Final Judgment entered in the Court of Eminent Domain apparently 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's reliance on Mississippi's statutory “quick take” procedure to take immediate possession of the property was unlawful.

         Plaintiffs allege that the City “engaged in a course of conduct that resulted in the violation of the Plaintiffs' right[s]” to equal protection under the law and procedural and substantive due process of law pursuant to the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments and the corresponding provisions of the Mississippi state constitution. (Am. Compl. 2, ECF No. 15.) They also reassert a takings claim under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments and corresponding provisions of the Mississippi constitution. (Id. at 2-3.)

         The City filed the instant Motion to Dismiss on August 22, 2019. The Motion argues (1) that Plaintiffs' claims are barred by the doctrines of res judicata and claim splitting and (2) that Plaintiffs otherwise fail to state a violation of their constitutional rights.

         II. DISCUSSION

         a. Motion to ...


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