This post was authored by Matthew Loescher, Esq.
The owners of a lakefront property brought action against adjacent landowner who was undertaking a residential construction project, alleging various causes of action based in part on new provisions of town code and seeking removal of certain walls and fill placed by adjacent landowner. The adjacent landowner filed a counterclaim for 1983 liability based on plaintiffs’ alleged conspiracy with town officials to violate landowner’s constitutionally protected and vested property rights. The Supreme Court, Ontario County, granted plaintiffs’ motion and cross-motion to dismiss the counterclaim.
The court first noted that to state a claim against a private individual for a section 1983 conspiracy, the pleading party must allege: “an agreement between a state actor and a private party; to act in concert to inflict an unconstitutional injury; and an overt act done in furtherance of that goal causing damages.” Here. the material allegations in the counterclaim consist of vague and general repetitions of the defendant’s prior claims that Lorrie had a conflict of interest and some unspecified communications with certain government actors “in an effort to convince them to take adverse action towards the defendant and/or the project, ” as well as threadbare legal conclusions that plaintiffs and the Town acted in concert and conspired to apply new zoning provisions retroactively to his property. Moreover, as the trial court found, the counterclaim as asserted against Bernard lacked the requisite detailed pleading of facts concerning his purported involvement in a conspiracy. Accordingly, the court affirmed the dismissal of this claim.
Naegele v Fox, 206 AD 3d 1558 (4 Dept. 6/3/2022)