HOWD & LUDORF LLC WINS FEDERAL EQUAL PROTECTION JURY TRIAL.
Howd & Ludorf LLC partners Tom Gerarde and Katie Rule successfully defended a federal equal protection claim against the Town of Durham in U.S. District Court in Hartford. In Arrigoni Enterprises LLC v. Town of Durham, plaintiff, a land developer, sought to build 3 industrial buildings in the Towns Design Development District. Because of the high rock content of the plaintiffs land it would have been necessary to blast, crush and remove 75,000 cubic yards of bedrock to make a suitable building space for the project. The Town of Durham Zoning commission denied Arrigonis permit request based on the impact of the intense site development on the nearby landowners, which would have included 2-3 years of noise and dust from a rock crushing machine, and thousands of dump truck trips past single family homes. Arrigoni claimed a violation of the Equal Protection clause to the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, given that the Town had allowed a property owner on the opposite side of the same road to develop a smaller 1 building project, and sought $2,000,000 in damages. Attorneys Gerarde and Rule argued that the plaintiff could not meet the high standard for a constitutional equal protection violation-- that the situation of the comparator project be “prima facie identical” to the Plaintiff’s; and, in any event, the Zoning Commission had a rational basis for any different treatment, sufficient to defeat an equal protection claim. The 12 member jury returned a unanimous verdict after 3 hours of deliberation.