Court Finds Fourth Amendment and Procedural Due Process Claims in Town’s Removal of “Litter” From Plaintiff’s Property, Part 1

Plaintiff owns real property at 63 Navy Road in Montauk, New York. This property had so many inoperable cars and other items on it that it was considered by the Town to be a public nuisance. After remaining in this condition for years, the Town passed a pair of resolutions authorizing the removal of “litter,” as defined in the Town Code, from the property.  Individuals acting on behalf of the Town then entered the plaintiff’s property and removed the various items scattered throughout. Plaintiff responded by bringing suit alleging the resolutions were unconstitutional bills of attainder, that he was denied his property absent procedural and substantive due process, that he was subject to an unreasonable search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment, and that taken together these acts constituted unequal treatment in violation of Equal Protection.  The Town moved for summary judgment.

The Court addressed each of these claims in turn. First, it addressed the bill of attainder claim. In the Second Circuit, three factors are considered when alleging unconstitutional punishment via bill of attainder: (1) whether the challenged statute falls within the historical meaning of legislative punishment, (2) whether the statute, “viewed in terms of the type of severity of burdens imposed, reasonably can be said to further non-punitive legislative purposes,” and (3) whether the legislative record “evinces a [legislative] intent to punish.” ACORN v. United States, 618 F.3d 125, 136 (2d Cir.2010).

Having found insufficient evidence presented of a clear legislative intent to punish the plaintiff, the Court dismissed this claim.

We will continue looking at the remaining claims in the next post.

The case is Ferreira v Town of East Hampton, 2014 WL 5637882 (E.D.N.Y.).

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