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Civil Rights Action Barred When Article 78 Proceeding Provides Adequate Remedy

An action under 42 USC §1983 may not be maintained when the plaintiff had other meaningful remedies. The Appellate Division, Third Department affirmed the lower court’s granting of summary judgment to the defendants in Hughes Village Restaurant, Inc. v. Village of Castleton-On-Hudson. The Court found that the plaintiff could have brought a CPLR article 78 proceeding against the officials who forced plaintiff to vacate an apartment house as a result of certain building and fire code violations.

The plaintiff claimed that by requiring that the building be vacated the municipal officials caused a situation which resulted in pipes freezing and the destruction of the property. If the damages resulted from established procedure due process requires that there be a hearing procedure available before deprivation of property rights. The Court found that the closure resulted from random unauthorized acts rather than established municipal procedure. Therefore, it concluded the question for the Court is whether there was a “meaningful post deprivation remedy” for the plaintiff. The Court held a CPLR article 78 proceeding provides such a remedy as “a CPLR article 78 proceeding could have challenged the alleged wrongful closure of plaintiff’s building, incidental to which it could have claimed damages for the destruction that allegedly resulted….” Finally, the Court found that the failure of the plaintiff to bring such a proceeding “does not undermine our determination.”

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