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Saturday, May 25, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Pro Se Property Spat Headed to Washington

WASHINGTON (CN) - A man who has for years been suing the city of Baltimore for demolishing his property persuaded the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday to take up his case.

Bobby Chen filed the federal "torts to land" action at hand in 2011, seeking $2.5 million. A federal judge dismissed it for failure to effect service of process, and the 4th Circuit affirmed in an unpublished decision on Nov. 12, 2013.

They mayor and city council of Baltimore are named as defendants, along with three housing department officials and P&J Contracting Co.

The U.S. Supreme Court granted Chen a writ of certiorari without explanation, as is its custom, Friday.

The order, which grants Chen leave to proceed in forma pauperis, limits consideration "to the following question: 'Whether, under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(m), a district court has discretion to extend the time for service of process absent a showing of good cause, as the Second, Third, Fifth, Seventh, Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Circuits have held, or whether the district court lacks such discretion, as the Fourth Circuit has held?'"

Courthouse News records show that Chen filed a similar federal complaint in 2010, alleging that Baltimore first damaged his property while demolishing an adjacent building, and then tearing down Chen's property months later to hide the damage.

He also sued the Baltimore City Council in 2008.

An insurance company sued the city council and contractor in 2009 to avoid defending them in Chen's suit.

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