Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Cheatham v. Town of Taylortown

Court of Appeals of North Carolina

August 1, 2017

ADAM T. CHEATHAM, SR., Plaintiff,
v.
TOWN OF TAYLORTOWN, NORTH CAROLINA, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, Defendant.

          Heard in the Court of Appeals 3 May 2017

         Appeal by Adam T. Cheatham, Sr. from an order allowing defendant's motion to dismiss entered 18 April 2016 by Judge James M. Webb in Moore County Superior Court No. 16 CVS 374.

          Adam T. Cheatham, Sr., pro se.

          The Law Offices of William C. Morgan, Jr., PLLC, by William Morgan, for defendant-appellee.

          MURPHY, Judge.

         Adam T. Cheatham, Sr. ("Cheatham") appeals from the trial court's order allowing Town of Taylortown's ("Taylortown") motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. On appeal, he contends that the trial court erred by granting the motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because Taylortown's attempts to enforce its minimum housing standards: (1) violated his property rights; (2) obstructed justice; and (3) deprived him of procedural due process. We disagree that the trial court erred to the extent Cheatham's claims arise from enforcement actions made pursuant to Taylortown's Minimum Housing Ordinance ("the Ordinance") because Cheatham failed to exhaust his administrative remedies as to these claims before filing his complaint. However, we agree with Cheatham that the dismissal was not proper as to his claims that arose prior to the adoption of the Ordinance. The trial court incorrectly determined all of Cheatham's claims arose from actions taken pursuant to the Ordinance. We reverse and remand for the trial court to reconsider whether subject matter jurisdiction exists as to Cheatham's claims accruing prior to the Ordinance's adoption.

         Background

         Sometime in early 2014, Taylortown affixed a "condemned" sign to the home at 128 Burch Drive in Taylortown ("the Property") after finding it to be in deplorable condition. The owner of the Property, Cheatham, claims he removed the sign in March 2014. It is unclear whether this occurred before or after 4 April 2014, when Moore County Building Inspections investigated a complaint that sewage was standing around the Property's well. At the time of the investigation, the Property was unoccupied. As a result of the investigation, the Moore County Health Department's Environmental Section reported that the standing water around the well "appears to be run off water and not sewage." It recommended that the well be abandoned if public water was available, or, if public water was not available, the well be tested before used for human consumption.

         On 27 May 2014, Cheatham attended a town meeting to request an explanation as to the condemnation of the Property. That same day, he submitted a letter documenting this request. In response, Taylortown sent him a letter, dated 30 May 2014, notifying Cheatham that his house had been inspected, and, due to the condition of the house and the land, a hearing would be scheduled. The letter further explained Cheatham would be informed of a hearing date by certified mail. Cheatham subsequently filed a lawsuit in Moore County Superior Court against Taylortown.[1] Well over a year after the condemned sign was posted and Cheatham was notified that a hearing would be scheduled, Cheatham took a voluntary dismissal in his first case against Taylortown.[2]

         After sending the 30 May 2014 letter, Taylortown made no effort to schedule a hearing or condemn the Property. On 19 June 2015, Taylortown adopted the Ordinance pursuant to N.C. G.S. §§ 160A-441 through 160A-450 (2015). Cheatham filed a new complaint on 21 March 2016, which is now before us on appeal.

         On 22 March 2016, before Cheatham served Taylortown with the summons and complaint, Taylortown investigated the Property pursuant to the authority and procedures in the Ordinance. On 25 March 2016, once Taylortown received the summons and complaint, it filed a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under North Carolina Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) based on Cheatham's failure to exhaust administrative remedies and under 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim. In response, Cheatham filed a motion to deny the motion to dismiss, attaching 15 exhibits, including 6 letters that Cheatham maintains he sent to Taylortown about the Property from June 2014 up until after the motion to dismiss was filed in April 2016.

         Judge Webb heard Taylortown's motion to dismiss on 11 April 2016. During the hearing, Cheatham "request[ed] that [Taylortown] stop continuing to be reckless, malicious and unlawful condemning the property for a second time, and stop the retaliation against [him] by condemning the property for a second time." Judge Webb granted Taylortown's motion, and ordered the dismissal of the action under Rule 12(b)(1), finding "[Cheatham's] claims arise out of [Taylortown's] attempts to enforce its Minimum Housing Ordinance and that [Cheatham] has fail[ed] to exhaust his administrative remedies, as provided in N.C. G.S. § 160A-446."[3] Cheatham timely appealed the trial court's order.

         Analysis

         Cheatham argues that the motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction should have been denied because Taylortown's attempts to enforce its minimum housing standards: (1) violate the "Bundle of Rights" given to all property owners under the law of the land, describing these rights as the owner's right to enter, use, sell, lease, or ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.