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Bruzga v. County of Boulder

United States District Court, D. Colorado

March 14, 2019

MICHAEL W. BRUZGA, and CAROLE A. ZOLNICK, Plaintiffs,
v.
COUNTY OF BOULDER, acting by and through the Board of County Commissioners, DEB GARDNER, in her official capacity as a Boulder County Commissioner, CINDY DOMENICO, in her official capacity as a Boulder County Commissioner, and ELISE JONES, in her official capacity as a Boulder County Commissioner, Defendants.

          ORDER ADOPTING THE OCTOBER 19, 2018 RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE MICHAEL E. HEGARTY

          CHRISTINE M. ARGUELLO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on the Recommendation (Doc. # 55) of United States Magistrate Judge Michael E. Hegarty, wherein he recommends that this Court grant Defendants County of Boulder, Deb Gardner, Cindy Domenico, and Elise Jones' (collectively, “the County” or “Defendants”) Motion to Dismiss First Amended Complaint for Deprivation of Civil Rights (Doc. # 23). Plaintiffs Michael Bruzga and Carole Zolnick[1] filed an Objection (Doc. # 56) to the Recommendation on November 2, 2018, and Defendants filed a Response (Doc. # 58) on November 16, 2018. For the reasons that follow, the Court adopts the Recommendation and grants Defendants' Motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The Magistrate Judge's Recommendation provides a recitation of the factual and procedural background of this dispute and is incorporated herein by reference. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). Accordingly, this Order will reiterate only what is necessary to address Plaintiffs' objections.

         In September 2013, Plaintiffs' home was damaged by heavy rainfall and flooding that caused Boulder County to be designated a local and federal disaster area. On December 4, 2014, Plaintiffs were awarded $32, 812 in Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds[2] for the purpose of repairing the flood-related damage. (Doc. 14-4 at 2.) Based on conversations Plaintiffs had with personnel involved with the CDBG-DR program, Plaintiffs believed that the remainder of the $100, 000 maximum per residence had been reserved for them as well. (Doc. # 14 at 6.)

         On February 3, 2015, Plaintiff Bruzga signed a Beneficiary Agreement, which provided, inter alia, that “Grantee's obligation under this Agreement to provide funds for housing rehabilitation funding is expressly made contingent on [Plaintiff Bruzga's] continued eligibility for and compliance with Grantee's CDBG-DR program.” (Doc. # 14-17.)

         However, by letter dated March 11, 2016, the Board of County Commissioners informed Plaintiff Bruzga that the CDBG-DR award had been canceled. (Doc. # 14-22 at 1.) The letter indicated that the reason for cancelation was Plaintiff Bruzga's failure to comply with various CDBG-DR program conditions. Specifically, the letter noted that Plaintiff Bruzga had not complied with the Beneficiary Agreement because he allegedly failed to: (1) “[r]emedy any existing Land Use Code and Building Code violations relating to unauthorized work at [Plaintiffs'] home”; (2) “[r]epair . . . any damage or unauthorized work on [Plaintiffs'] home”; and (3) submit a “signed Contractor Addendum and . . . project schedule that would assure the County that [Plaintiffs'] project was making progress toward completion.” At that point, the County had made payments to various contractors totaling $6, 869.58.

         Plaintiffs dispute the factual assertions in the termination letter, arguing that the County's revocation of their benefits was wrongful. (Doc. # 14 at 24.) In the operative First Amended Complaint, Plaintiffs claim that the remainder of the CDBG-DR award, and other funding they discussed with the County, constitutes an entitlement which was deprived by the County without due process of law. (Doc. # 14 at 22.) Plaintiffs also seek injunctive relief under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). (Id. at 26.) In his Recommendation, Magistrate Judge Hegarty concluded that that both claims should be dismissed. (Doc. # 55 at 2.)

         Plaintiffs' Objection to the Recommendation specifically pertains to the magistrate judge's analysis of Plaintiffs' due process claim. (Doc. # 56.) Plaintiffs do not object to the Recommendation regarding their ADA claim.[3]

         II. STANDARDS OF REVIEW

         A. REVIEW OF A RECOMMENDATION

         When a magistrate judge issues a recommendation on a dispositive matter, Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3) requires that the district judge “determine de novo any part of the magistrate judge's [recommended] disposition that has been properly objected to.” An objection is properly made if it is both timely and specific. United States v. One Parcel of Real Property Known As 2121 East 30th Street, 73 F.3d 1057, 1059 (10th Cir. 1996). Additionally, “[i]ssues raised for the first time in objections to [a] magistrate judge's recommendation are deemed waived.” Marshall v. Chater, 75 F.3d 1421, 1426 (10th Cir. 1996). In conducting its review, “[t]he district judge may accept, reject, or modify the recommended disposition; receive further evidence; or return the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3).

         B. MOTION TO DISMISS

         The Court may dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 12(b)(6). To withstand a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim is facially plausible “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). The scope of the allegations may not be “so general that they encompass a wide swath of conduct, much of it innocent” or else the plaintiff has “‘not nudged [his] claims across the line from conceivable to plausible.'” Robbins v. Oklahoma, 519 F.3d 1242, 1247 (10th Cir. 2008) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). A plaintiff may not rely on mere labels or conclusions, “and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Twombly, 550 ...


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