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.

Askew v. City of Kinston

United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Eastern Division

May 15, 2019

DR. JOSEPH ASKEW, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
CITY OF KINSTON, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          JAMES C. DEVER III United States District Judge.

         On January 22, 2019, Dr. Joseph Askew ("Askew"), Nathaniel Baker ("N. Baker"), Gordon Wade ("Wade"), Curtis Washington ("Washington"), and Askew's Day Care, Inc. ("Askew's Day Care"; collectively "plaintiffs"), proceeding pro se, filed a complaint against the City of Kinston ("Kinston"), Greg Dempsey ("Dempsey"), Jason Baker ("J. Baker"), Jackie Rogers ("Rogers"), and Adam Short ("Short"; collectively "defendants") [D.E. 1].[1] Plaintiffs allege "violations of their [Fourteenth] amendment, substantial due process, equal protection rights, discrimination, disparity and condemnation of a historical home." Id.¶ 20. On January 31, 2019, plaintiffs moved for a temporary restraining order ("TRO") and a preliminary injunction [D.E. 11]. On February 6, 2019, plaintiffs moved for a jury trial [D.E. 13].

         On February 21, 2019, defendants moved to dismiss plaintiffs' complaint under Rules 12(b)(1), (2), (4), and (5) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure [D.E. 23], filed supplemental exhibits [D.E. 24-32], filed a memorandum in support [D.E. 33], and responded in opposition to plaintiffs' motions for a TRO and preliminary injunction [D.E. 34]. OnFebruary 22, 2019, the court notified plaintiffs about the motion, the consequences of failing to respond, and the response deadline [D.E. 35]. See Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309, 310 (4lh Cir. 1975) (per curiam). On April 1, 2019, plaintiffs responded in opposition to defendants' motion to dismiss and dismissed Dempsey, J. Baker, Rogers, and Short as defendants [D.E. 38]. On April 15, 2019, defendants replied [D.E. 40]. As explained below, the court grants defendants' motion to dismiss, dismisses plaintiffs' complaint, and denies plaintiffs' motions for a TRO and preliminary injunction and for a jury trial.

         I.

         Plaintiffs' complaint concerns the condemnation or possible condemnation of six properties in Kinston, North Carolina: 510 East Gordon Street, 603 East Gordon Street, 607 East Gordon Street, 110 Trianon Street, 412 Norm Mitchell Street, and 610 Norm Independent Street See Compl. [D.E. 1] 4, 9. Plaintiffs are "individual citizens who have personal and private cause concerning the demolitions, eminent domain, [and] takings of property in Black neighborhoods." Id. ¶ 5. Askew, at one time, was one of the largest property owners in the Trianon Historical District in Kinston, North Carolina. See Id. at 5. Baker resides at 607 East Gordon Street and "is the manager of the subject property... and is in charge of its upkeep." Id. at 9. Washington owns 610 North Independence Street See Id. Wade is repairing 412 Mitchell Street. See id.

         On January 14, 2013, Kinston released a list of 30 houses "slated for demolition." Id. at 4. Among the houses to be demolished were 510 East Gordon Street, 603 East Gordon Street, 607 East Gordon Street, and 110 Trianon Street. See Id. At the time, members of the Askew family owned these four properties. See Id. On May 12, 2017, Joseph Askew Jr. ("Askew Jr.") received a letter of condemnation from Kinston concerning 603 East Gordon Street See Id. ¶ 11. Plaintiffs allege that 603 East Gordon Street, 607 East Gordon Street, and 110 Trianon Street are part of the Trianon Historical District. See Id. at 5.

         Askew met with J. Baker, a city employee in "code enforcement," to discuss the condemned properties. See Id. at 4. Plaintiffs allege that J. Baker told Askew that "they could demolish 510 East Gordon Street with community grant funds." Id.; see Id. ¶ 13. Plaintiffs allege that the community grant funds are available "to help Blacks and low income individuals that could not afford to have their historic homes rehabilitated or demolished." Id. at 5. Instead of demolishing 501 East Gordon Street, Askew decided to repair it, and he asked J. Baker if the community grant funds could be used to demolish 603 East Gordon Street. See Id. at 4; ¶ 13. J. Baker replied that he could not use community grant funds to demolish 603 East Gordon Street because "it was a historic property." Id. at 4. Plaintiffs allege that this representation was not true and that J. Baker misled Askew because he is racist. See id.

         Because Askew could not use community grant funds to demolish 603 East Gordon Street, Askew asked for time to rehabilitate 603 East Gordon Street. See Id. ¶ 14. Askew planned to save valuable historical materials from the property, obtain grants from Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") and the Department of Veterans Affairs ("VA"), and convert the properties (including 110 North Trianon Street and 607 East Gordon Street) into a building to house approximately 30 homeless veterans. See Id. Although Askew asked for 180 days to complete bis project, Rogers told Askew that he could have 75 days to rehabilitate the property. See Id. Askew appealed to the Kinston City Council. See Id. ¶ 16. Askew alleges that the Kinston City Council only permitted him to present bis plans for three minutes. See Id. ¶¶ 17-18. The Kinston City Council denied Askew's appeal. See Id. ¶ 18.

         Plaintiffs allege that Short, the director of city planning for Kinston, told Askew that, because Askew only repaired 510 East Gordon Street and never rented it, Kinston intended to demolish 603 East Gordon Street and "place a lien against it and then take the property by foreclosure." Id. at 4. Plaintiffs allege that Kinston's plan was part of "a retaliatory tact surrounded by racial bias" because Askew did not convert 510 East Gordon Street into rental property. Id. Askew alleges that white property owners were not required to convert their properties into rental properties. See Id. at 5.

         On April 9, 2018, Kinston held a hearing concerning 607 East Gordon Street and 110 North Trianon Street. See Id. At the hearing, Askew read a statement accusing Dempsey and other Kinston building inspectors of bias against him due to a criminal incident. See id. at 5-6. At the end of the hearing, Rogers gave Askew 60 days to complete phase one of rehabilitation of 607 East Gordon Street, 120 days to complete phase two, and 120 days to complete phase three. See Id. at 6. Rogers also gave Askew 120 days to repair 110 North Trianon Street. See Id. Plaintiffs allege that Askew did not know that the times to complete rehabilitation of 607 East Gordon Street and 110 North Trianon Street would run concurrently. See id.

         After 120 days, Rogers inspected 110 North Trianon Street, noted the minimal work that had been completed to repair the property, and took pictures. See id, At 603 East Gordon Street, Rogers allowed a demolition company to drive across the property, damaging the hedges. See Id. at 6-7. According to plaintiffs, "[n]o small contractor in the area could have completed the work needed for a historical property in the Trianon Historical District in the time given by the building inspector." Id. at 7. On January 7, 2019, Askew presented these concerns to the Kinston City Council and requested "three to five or ten years to do the repairs." Id. at 7-8. At some point after that hearing, 603 East Gordon Street was demolished. See Id. at 9.

         Finally, plaintiffs allege that Washington, who owns 610 North Independence Street, had his auto mechanic building condemned by Kinston. See Id. Plaintiffs also seek an injunction concerning the property at 412 Mitchell Street because Wade has started repairing the property. See id.

         II.

...


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.