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Can a Township and its employees be sued?

Liverpool, NY |

Hired what was told is a reputable contractor. Wasn't. My township's building code enforcement officer clims to have been to my house on numerous occassions, claiming all work doe was to NYS code. He didn't and it wasn't. Complained to the Director of Planning & Development and the Town Supervisor. Director came to my house and cited numerous code violations. DIrector cites the contractor to appear in court for a pageful of violations. Director adjourns every scheduled appearance for 8 months, giving the contractor a full dismissal on the 9th. Contacted the Director by phone and email to provide an explanation. No response. Submitted FOIL for all documents, photos, correspondence, etc he used to validate his decision. Received response..."they're aren't any."

Hired outside inspectors who cited many code violations: electrical, mechanical, structural, plumbing, etc...saying the Director had no grounds to dismiss. Contractor in March 2011 file for bankruptcy. Seems Director deliberately looked the other way. Why? No idea other than the contractor must have something on him/dept or told the Director he was filing bankruptcy. What I do know is the Director adjourned each/every hearing for 8 months w/o the contractor having to face the Town Court, once. He dismissed everything with no supportive documentation whatsoever. He did not notify me that he had dismissed all. My house cannot pass inspection. Along with acutely shody workmanship there @ $100K in bldg code violations the Town/ Director simply 'dismissed.' Would it be worth hiring an attorney to seek damages from the Town since they allowed the contractor to walk from his responsibilites regardless of the fact they cited nearly $100K in violations? Can a suit be brought against the Town and the Director?

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Attorney answers 2


Talk to a local lawyer about a "writ of mandamus." It is a court order that compels a government official to do his job. I've used this to force inspections of job sites.


When deciding if you should sue someone there are two essential requirements. First, did the person who you think violated your rights have a duty to refrain from the activity that you think would form the basis of a suit or did they have a legal duty to do something and they did not do it. It is very difficult to determine the answer to that question based on the facts you list because it will depend on State law and possibly administrative law in your State and under Federal Law.

The second essential is where there compensable damages? Damages for which a Court can award you monetary awards or injunctive relief (order the other person to do something or stop doing something). If you have both of these elements you may sue.

However, lawsuits take a high degree of expertise and cost money. Many clients have come to me through the years and stated that the money did not matter to them, just the principal of the issue! When I tell them how much I and other lawyers charge by the hour it becomes obvious to them that the value of the lawsuit damages is very important.

You can seek out your lawyer referral service to seek counsel. There are agencies of the State and Federal Government you may want to contact. Talk to a lawyer before you decide to sue someone for expert legal advice!

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Good Luck!

Disclaimer: This answer does not constitute legal advice. I am admitted in the States of New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts only and make no attempt to opine on matters of law that are not relevant to those three States. This advice is based on general principles of law that may or may not relate to your specific situation. Facts and laws change and these possible changes will affect the advice provided here. Consult an attorney in your locale before you act on any of this advice. You should not rely on this advice alone and nothing in these communications creates an attorney client relationship.

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