damage it. Plaintiffs allege that in the winter of 1987-88, agents of Krutiak Wood Products trespassed upon and damaged Plaintiffs' private road by "skidding" (or dragging) logs along the road. Plaintiffs allege that Krutiak was encouraged and/or permitted to skid the logs along Plaintiffs' road by agents of the Town of Grafton, and that this conduct was a "taking" without just compensation within the meaning of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.
As a threshold matter, in order for Plaintiffs to establish a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Plaintiffs must demonstrate that the allegedly unconstitutional conduct was "state action." See LeBlanc-Sternberg v. Fletcher, 67 F.3d 412, 432 (2d Cir. 1995). In other words, the challenged conduct must have its source in state authority. See id.
In this case, even if the Court were to find that the loggers trespassed on Plaintiffs' property, the Court could not find for Plaintiffs because they have failed to produce any admissible evidence that Krutiak's alleged skidding on Plaintiffs' road was endorsed, encouraged, or condoned by the Town, or by any of individual Defendants for that matter. The only evidence in the record of any interaction between a town official and loggers is testimony from Mr. Hasbrouck concerning conversations he had with a Krutiak employee. In response to a series of questions by the Court, Mr. Hasbrouck testified that he never told anyone from Krutiak that the company could use Plaintiffs' road. (Tr. at 37.) In fact, Mr. Hasbrouck testified that "if anything, I warned him that he wasn't supposed to be on [Plaintiffs' road]." Id.
Furthermore, even if there was admissible evidence linking the Defendants and Krutiak's operation, the relatively minor damage that resulted from Krutiak's operation does not, in these circumstances, amount to a compensable "taking" under the Fifth Amendment, see Hendler v. United States, 952 F.2d 1364, 1375-1384 (Fed Cir. 1991) (stating that compensable temporary physical takings must be more than "government activities which involve an occupation that is transient and relatively inconsequential, and thus can be viewed as no more than a common law trespass"), and it certainly does not amount to the type of "conscience-shocking" conduct actionable under the Due Process Clause. See Easton, 947 F.2d 1011 at 1018 (stating that Fourteenth Amendment guards generally against conduct that "shocks the conscience") (internal quotations and citations omitted).
Thus, after carefully reviewing the record, the Court finds that Plaintiffs have failed to offer evidence of "state action" that could form the basis of their § 1983 claims under the Due Process Clause, and in any event, the minor damage that occurred could not form the basis of a constitutional "injury." These claims, therefore, must be dismissed.
Therefore, after carefully considering all the credible and relevant evidence adduced at trial, it is hereby
ORDERED that Plaintiffs have failed to establish any of their claims. Thus, Plaintiffs' amended complaint is DISMISSED in its entirety. Any application for attorney's fees pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988 must be submitted to the Court within 30 days from the entry of this Order.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Dated: October 6, 1997
Syracuse, New York
Frederick J. Scullin, Jr.
United States District Judge