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Gache v. Hill Realty Associates, LLC

United States District Court, S.D. New York

September 22, 2014

PETER D. GACHE, aka PETER DJONALD GACHE, Plaintiff,
v.
HILL REALTY ASSOCIATES, LLC, WINTERHILL REALTY, LLC, MICHAEL T. TOKARZ, individually, DAVID L. GOLDRICH, individually and as Manager of Hill Realty Associates, LLC, PHILLIP A. MARRACCINI, individually and in his capacity as Supervisor of the Town of Harrison, N.Y., RONALD B. BIANCHI, individually and in his capacity as Supervisor of the Town of Harrison, N.Y., STEPHEN MALFITANO, individually and in his capacity as Supervisor of the Town of Harrison, N.Y., JOHN DOES, I-X and JANE DOES, I-X, Defendants.

Peter D. Gache Beverly Hills, California Plaintiff Pro Se.

Eric Lewis Gordon, Esq., Keane & Beane, P.C., White Plains, New York, Counsel for Defendants Hill Realty, Winterhill Realty, Michael Tokarz and David Goldrich.

Steven Jay Harfenist, Esq., Friedman, Harfenist, Kraut & Perlstein, LLP, Lake Success, New York, Counsel for Defendants Phillip Marraccini, Ronald Bianchi and Stephen Malfitano.

OPINION AND ORDER

CATHY SEIBEL, District Judge.

Before the Court are Defendants' Motions to Dismiss the Second Amended Complaint, (Docs. 29, 32), and Plaintiff's Motion to Withdraw the Reference to the Bankruptcy Court, (Doc. 47). For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' Motions are GRANTED and Plaintiff's Motion is DENIED.

I. BACKGROUND

For purposes of the instant Motions, I accept as true the facts, but not the conclusions, as set forth in the Second Amended Complaint ("SAC"). (Doc. 23.) In addition, because Plaintiff is pro se, I will - despite his lengthy litigation experience and obvious skill at and familiarity with legal matters - "interpret the factual allegations of [his] complaint to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest." Grullon v. City of New Haven, 720 F.3d 133, 139 (2d Cir. 2013) (internal quotation marks omitted).

Plaintiff is a resident of Los Angeles, California. (SAC ¶ 1.) Hill Realty and Winterhill Realty are limited liability corporations organized under New York law. ( Id. ¶¶ 2-3.) Michael Tokarz is a principal in the entity that owns Hill Realty and Winterhill Realty, and is a New York resident. ( Id. ¶ 4.) David Goldrich is an attorney and the manager of Hill Realty, and is a Georgia resident. ( Id. ¶ 5.)[1] All of the other defendants are New York residents and were Supervisors of the Town of Harrison (the "Town") at various points between 1994 and 2008. ( Id. ¶¶ 6-8.)[2]

In August 1985, Plaintiff purchased 104 acres of vacant development land on Barnes Lane in Harrison, New York (the "Barnes Lane Lot"). ( Id. ¶¶ 12-13.) After Plaintiff purchased the Barnes Lane Lot, a landfill operated by the Town of Harrison was discovered on a portion of the property. ( Id. ¶¶ 16-17.) The presence of the landfill resulted in significant contamination and adversely affected Plaintiff's development plans for the property. ( Id. ¶ 17.) In September 1990, Plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the Town seeking damages and an order that the Town remove the landfill and remediate the resulting contamination. ( Id. ¶ 18.)

In July 1991, Plaintiff filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. ( Id. ¶ 21.) On August 1, 1995, the Bankruptcy Court involuntarily converted the Chapter 11 proceeding to a Chapter 7 proceeding and appointed a Chapter 7 trustee (the "Trustee"). ( Id. ¶ 24.)

On September 30, 1996, the Trustee and the Town settled the lawsuit Plaintiff had filed regarding the Town's contamination of the Barnes Lane Lot. ( Id. ¶ 25.) Among other things, the settlement required the Town to begin cleaning up the property by May 9, 1997 and to complete the remediation by May 8, 1998. ( Id. ¶¶ 26-34.) The settlement also required the Trustee to transfer title to a portion of the property to the Town. (Gordon Decl. Ex. C ¶ 4(b).)[3] On November 14, 1996, the Bankruptcy Court approved the settlement, (SAC ¶¶ 25-35), after which Plaintiff moved to have the Bankruptcy Court reject the settlement under Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b), alleging that he uncovered evidence of fraud, ( see Gordon Decl. Ex. D ("4/1/97 Transcript"), at 7-22). On April 1, 1997, the Bankruptcy Court rejected Plaintiff's motion. ( Id. at 24.)[4]

Between March 1997 and December 1997, the Bankruptcy Court rejected several attempts to market and sell the property because the proffered sale prices were too low. ( See SAC ¶ 36.) The bids rejected by the Bankruptcy Court included a $4.7 million offer by the Town, ( see id. ¶ 37), that the Bankruptcy Court later described as "offensive to the court, " (Gordon Decl. Ex. K ("6/17/98 Transcript"), at 58). Plaintiff's appraiser, Eugene Albert, submitted multiple affidavits to the Bankruptcy Court asserting that the value of the Barnes Lane Lot after the cleanup would be at least $11.5 million. ( See id. Ex. E ¶¶ 10, 34; id. Ex. F ¶ 43; id. Ex. G ¶ 12; id. Ex. H ¶ 9.)

In April 1998, the Trustee noticed a sale hearing for the property. (SAC ¶ 44.) On May 22, 1998, the Bankruptcy Court held the Town in contempt for failing to complete the cleanup. ( Id. ¶ 47.) Also on May 22, 1998, the Bankruptcy Court denied Plaintiff's motion to compel enforcement of the settlement and to stay the Barnes Lane Lot auction until the Town completed the cleanup. ( See id. ¶¶ 47-48.)

On May 27, 1998, an auction sale for the property took place before the Bankruptcy Court. ( Id. ¶ 48.) Although the SAC states that "Hill Realty [was] the only bidder to show up, " ( id. ), the Bankruptcy Court transcript reveals that other potential bidders attended and at least one other bidder actively bid on the Barnes Lane Lot, ( see Gordon Decl. Ex. J ("5/27/98 ...


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