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Gray v. City of Revere

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

June 22, 2016

THOMAS GRAY and MARIE A. GRAY, Plaintiffs,
v.
CITY OF REVERE; BRIAN ARRIGO, Mayor of Revere; PAUL CAPIZZI, City Solicitor; BENJAMIN DeCHRISTOFORO, Building Inspector; MARK LOCKE, Plumbing Inspector; MICHAEL CONLEY, Electrical Inspector; THOMAS AMBROSINO, Former Mayor of Revere; LOVENBERG AND ASSOCIATES P.C.; BURNS & LEVINSON, LLP; FRANK FOSS RUSSELL; and D'AMBROSIO BROWN, LLP, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS TO DISMISS

          F. Dennis Saylor IV United States District Judge

         This is a pro se action arising out of a zoning dispute between two property owners and the City of Revere. The city prevailed in the underlying zoning dispute after a 2009 bench trial in state District Court, and the Appellate Division affirmed that decision in early 2011.

         Plaintiffs Thomas and Marie Gray have now brought suit against the City of Revere, various city officials and inspectors, and multiple law firms that allegedly represented them in their zoning dispute with the city. Defendants have moved to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

         Although the complaint is difficult to understand, it appears to assert claims for "double jeopardy, " "perjury, " and a number of tort actions, including intentional infliction of emotional distress, defamation, conspiracy, fraud, and legal malpractice. (Compl. 2, 6).[1] It is highly doubtful that the complaint--no matter how liberally construed--states a plausible claim upon which relief can be granted.

         Nonetheless, even assuming that the complaint states a claim for any of the causes of action pleaded, the zoning dispute and subsequent appeal occurred more than five years ago. Therefore, the claims are time-barred by the applicable three-year statutes of limitations. Accordingly, defendants' motions to dismiss will be granted.

         I. Background

         It is difficult to piece together the factual background of this matter from the allegations in the complaint. Accordingly, the Court relies in part on the decision of the Appellate Division of the District Court to provide the historical background. The complaint refers to that decision, which is an official public record, several times.[2] To the extent that the complaint pleads facts not otherwise described in the Appellate Division's opinion, the Court accepts them as true.

         A. Factual Background

         1.State Court Proceedings

         In 1980, plaintiffs Thomas and Marie Gray purchased a house located at 17 Vinal Street in Revere, Massachusetts. The house was located in a zoning district that allowed two-family dwellings.

         In 1987, plaintiffs obtained a building permit from the city to convert the house into a three-family dwelling and rent it to tenants. However, the city's review board later informed the building inspector that plaintiffs' proposed alteration would in fact create a four-family dwelling. The city's building inspector notified plaintiffs that the permit did not allow a four-family dwelling. As a result, plaintiffs reached an agreement with the city to limit the use of the property in accordance with the permit.

         In 1996, the building inspector, responding to a complaint, went to the property. He discovered that plaintiffs had converted the house into a four-family dwelling. In 1998, after issuing a cease and desist order that plaintiffs ignored, the city filed an enforcement action against plaintiffs. In 2006, the city filed another enforcement action against plaintiffs, along with criminal complaints. For reasons that are not addressed by the parties and otherwise unclear from the record, those complaints were dismissed.

         During a 2007 inspection, the building inspector discovered a fifth apartment in the house on plaintiffs' property. In November 2007, the city again notified plaintiffs that they were violating the building code and zoning ordinance. Three weeks later, the city ordered plaintiffs to remove all surplus apartment units, kitchens, bathrooms, and wiring that were constructed without permits, and to restore the house to a two-family dwelling.

         After plaintiffs did not respond to the demand, the city brought suit against plaintiffs in the Chelsea District Court for injunctive relief to enforce the Massachusetts building code and the city's zoning ordinance. In May 2009, after a bench trial, the District Court enjoined plaintiffs from using the premises for any purpose other than as a two-family dwelling. It also imposed monetary ...


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