Clarksburg woman says city wrongfully listed home to be demolished

By Kyla Asbury | Oct 1, 2015

CLARKSBURG – A woman is suing the City of Clarksburg after she claims it wrongfully listed her house as one to be demolished.

On July 18, 2013, the City of Clarksburg adopted a resolution declaring certain areas of the city to be slum or blighted areas, according to a complaint initially filed in Harrison Circuit Court and removed to federal court.

Carol J. Howard claims the resolution states that the defendant desires to remove vacant, dilapidated housing throughout Clarksburg that has been posted for demolition by the Code Enforcement Department.

The resolution states that the defendant determined in order to remove slum or blight from the city, the properties must be declared slum or blight prior to demolition and that all properties listed on the demolition list developed by the Code Enforcement Department all met the criteria of blight by receiving a demolition order by the department.

Howard claims her home is listed on the demolition list and on Sept. 21, 2009, an employee of the department, H. Keith Kesling, served her with a document titled "Notice of Violation" that stated that her home was unfit for human occupancy.

The plaintiff was advised by the department that her only means to reverse the condemnation and demolition order was by appeal to the defendant's Board of Building Code Appeals, according to the suit.

Howard claims the Board of Building Code Appeals was not assembled in accordance or in compliance with the State Building Code at the time she was issued the order and she had to vacate her home as ordered.

The condition of her home deteriorated considerably due to vandalism, looting and the general lack of upkeep that would normally occur in an inhabited residence and Howard was harmed by the actions of the defendant and suffered significant damages.

Howard claims the defendant failed to use reasonable diligence and take required steps to train its building code officials and building inspectors.

The defendant acted to deprive Howard of certain constitutionally protected rights under the Fourth, Fifth and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, according to the suit,

Howard is seeking compensatory damages. She is being represented by Steven Brett Offutt of the Law Office of Brett Offutt.

The city is represented by Keith C. Gamble and Kenneth L. Hopper of Pullin, Fowler, Flanagan, Brown & Poe PLLC.

The case is assigned to District Judge Irene Keeley.

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia case number: 1:15-cv-00135

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