Friday, September 22, 2023
Courthouse News Service
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Well, So Much for That Supreme Court Case

WASHINGTON (CN) - Two months after taking up a case about allegedly demolished Baltimore property, the U.S. Supreme Court changed its mind.

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 A federal judge dismissed it for failure to effect service of process, and the 4th Circuit affirmed in an unpublished decision on Nov. 12, 2013.

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

Two months ago, nearly to the day, the U.S. Supreme Court granted Chen a writ of certiorari without explanation, as is its custom.

It dismissed that writ Friday amid apparent radio silence from Chen.

"Petitioner has not filed a brief on the merits within 45 days of the order granting the writ of certiorari, as required by Rule 25.1," the brief order states. "Petitioner has neither requested an extension of time nor responded to correspondence directed to the mailing address provided under Rule 34.1(f). Additional efforts to contact petitioner have been unsuccessful."

The Nov. 7 order granting Chen leave to proceed in forma pauperis had limited the court's 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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