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Cathedral Church of the Intercessor v. Incorporated Village of Malverne

March 6, 2006

THE CATHEDRAL CHURCH OF THE INTERCESSOR; THE MOST REVEREND CRAIG W. BATES; THE VERY REVEREND DAVID B. KLAMPERT; REVEREND JOSEPH CICCARELLO; AND EDWARD KORYCKA, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
THE INCORPORATED VILLAGE OF MALVERNE; THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE VILLAGE OF MALVERNE; THE ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW BOARD OF THE VILLAGE OF MALVERNE; THE ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS OF THE VILLAGE OF MALVERNE; ROBERT L. SOLARINO, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS SUPERINTENDENT OF THE BUILDING DEPARTMENT OF THE VILLAGE OF MALVERNE; PAUL BARROCA, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS INTERIM SUPERINTENDENT OF THE BUILDING DEPARTMENT OF THE VILLAGE OF MALVERNE; JAMES CALLAHAN, III, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS TRUSTEE AND AS A MEMBER OF THE ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW BOARD OF THE VILLAGE OF MALVERNE; AND SIDNEY B. BROWNE & SON, LLP, INDIVIDUALLY IN ITS CORPORATE CAPACITY AND AS THE ENGINEER OF THE VILLAGE OF MALVERNE, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Platt, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Before this Court are two motions: (i) Defendants Village of Malverne et al. ("Village Defendants") move pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) to dismiss Counts One through Eight of the Second Amended Complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and to dismiss the complaint in its entirety against the individual defendants on account of qualified immunity; and (ii) Defendants Paul Barroca and Sidney B. Bowne & Son, LLP ("Bowne Defendants"), move pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(c) and 12(h) to dismiss and for judgment on the pleadings. For the reasons stated in this opinion, the Defendants' motions to dismiss are DENIED.

BACKGROUND

The Court assumes familiarity with (i) the underlying facts of this case alleging, inter alia, constitutional violations on account of religion, race, and national origin, and (ii) the previous decision of this Court regarding these matters. See Cathedral Church of the Intercessor v. Inc. Vill. of Malverne, 353 F. Supp. 2d 375 (E.D.N.Y. 2005).

The suit is brought by the Cathedral Church of the Intercessor (the "Church"); the Most Reverend Craig W. Bates, the Bishop and Senior Pastor of the Church ("Bishop Bates"); the Very Reverend David B. Klampert, the Dean and Associate Pastor of the Church ("Rev. Klampert"); Reverend Joseph Ciccarello, the Pastor and Worship Leader at the Church ("Rev. Ciccarello"); and Edward Korycka, an active member of the Church ("Korycka"), (collectively "Plaintiffs").

The Defendants are: the Incorporated Village of Malverne ("the Village"); the Board of Trustees of the Village of Malverne ("the Board of Trustees"); the Architectural Review Board of the Village of Malverne ("ARB"); the Zoning Board of Appeals of the Village of Malverne ("ZBA"); Robert L. Solarino, Superintendent of the Village Building Department ("Solarino"); Paul Barroca, Interim Superintendent of the Village Building Department ("Barroca"); Joseph J. Hennessy, Trustee and member of the ARB ("Hennessy"); James J. Callahan, III, Trustee and member of the ARB ("Callahan"); Sidney B. Bowne & Son, LLP ("Bowne"), (collectively "Defendants").

By Memorandum and Order (the "Order") dated January 25, 2005, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, finding that the complaint did not present any constitutional issues and noting that the issues presented therein were more properly addressed to a New York State court in an Article 78 proceeding. The Court, however, permitted Plaintiffs an opportunity to re-plead consistent with their obligations under Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and within the parameters set forth in the Court's Order.

Before the Court on these motions is Plaintiffs' Second Amended Complaint ("SAC"). The facts leading up to the filing of the instant lawsuit are adequately set forth in the Order and will not be repeated herein in great detail. The SAC employs the same general framework of the Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint but contains a plethora of factual allegations in support of the following ten (10) stated causes of action:*fn1

1. Equal Protection violation: on account of religion

2. Equal Protection violation: arbitrary and selective enforcement

3. Substantive Due Process violation: arbitrary application of zoning and building laws

4. Procedural Due Process violation

5. First Amendment violation: retaliation for exercise of the First Amendment right to petition

6. Religious Land and Institutionalized Persons Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc ("RLUIPA") violation: on account of unequal terms

7. RLUIPA violation: on account of discrimination

8. RLUIPA violation: on account of unreasonable limitations

9. Malverne Code and Local Law 1-1975 are void

10. Local Law 1-1975 is unconstitutionally vague and overbroad. In support of these claims, Plaintiffs have alleged in detail the races and national origins of the Church's members as well as the history of the Church's expansion. (SAC ¶¶ 23-61). Plaintiffs assert that in or around 1985 the Church's membership had declined dramatically to approximately fifty (50) members and that Bishop Bates was assigned to the Church. (SAC ¶ 24). Under his leadership, the Church disaffiliated with the Episcopal Church and became affiliated in 1995 with the International Communion of the Charismatic Episcopal Church, which Plaintiffs allege to be a non-mainstream religion. (SAC ¶ 25). During this time period, the Church's membership expanded to include approximately four hundred (400) members in 1995 and continued to expand to approximately six hundred (600) members at the time the Church contemplated a structural expansion in late 1997. (SAC ¶¶ 29, 43-54). The Church's membership expanded to include many people from outside of the Village, mainly persons of color and non-native U.S. citizens, in stark contrast to the Village's population, which is alleged to be 92% white. (SAC ¶¶ 35-42, 56-61).

Plaintiffs allege extensively in the SAC that because of the Defendants' actions and/or inactions with respect to their building proposals, the Church's members have been constrained and limited in the free exercise of their religion, and the Church has incurred costs due to the Church's inability to expand its structure. (SAC ¶¶ 43-54). Plaintiffs allege, inter alia, that: Church members have been constrained in their ability to observe fundamentally important elements of the Church's Sunday services, and the Church is without space to suitably provide faith-based counseling or communal faith-based activities. (SAC ¶¶ 44-54). ...


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