Federal Magistrate Judge Christine Nowak temporarily denied a motion by the city of Denison to dismiss a case between the city and James Roa, the owner of the Central Ward School property, in April to allow the property owner additional time to amend his complaint in the case. He filed that document with the federal court in Sherman on April 28.
For the past several years, Denison and Roa have been locked in a legal battle in state and federal courts as the city attempted to spend $115,000 to demolish the Central Ward building and Roa attempted to save it.
In her order to Roa granting him more time to file his amended complaint, Nowak listed what she wanted that document to contain.
“Plaintiff's Amended Complaint should set forth each cause of action alleged by Plaintiff, specifically identify which causes of action are asserted against which Defendants, and specifically identify the factual basis for each claim,” she said. “Plaintiff must include all factual allegations and/or claims in this Complaint. Plaintiff's pleading should be clear, succinct, and filed in accordance with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Eastern District of Texas Local Rules.”
Roa's latest filing accuses the city of Denison, its leaders and several employees of a list of wrongs that he says violate his federal rights to due process and violate the Older Americans Act Reauthorization and the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments. Essentially, Roa says city leaders treated him unfairly when declaring that his building at 715 W. Sears in Denison should be demolished because it is unsafe. Roa had purchased the property in 2012.
Roa did not return repeated phone calls seeking comment.
In addition to city leaders such as Mayor Jared Johnson and council members Matt Hanley, Bill Malvern, Ken Brawley, Michael Baecht and Janet Gott, Roa also named as defendants in the case Jud Rex, Gabe Reaume, Betty Floyd, Michael Fitzpatrick, Phillip Shaffer, Britton Brooks, Judge Jim Fallon, Gordon Weger, and Herald Democrat employees Jonathan Cannon, Michael Hutchins and Donna Hunt.
Cannon, the Herald Democrat's executive editor, said the paper does not comment on ongoing litigation. Due to Roa's inclusion of Hutchins as a party in the case, the paper has reassigned the case to the paper's criminal justice editor.
Fallon said he had not received anything notifying him of his inclusion in the case so he couldn't comment on it.
Rex, Denison's city manager, said he received the 35-page document, but has yet to have time to really examine it. He said from his first glances at it, the filing seems to be making the same points Roa has made in previous legal filings both in state and federal court. Rex said though he thinks there will likely be more delays in the case, he thinks the city will ultimately be successful in its attempts to get the building demolished.
As for what Roa wants from Nowak, he said wants her to “declare the order of demolition unlawful and void and of no force or effect and permanently enjoin its enforcement by defendants.”
He further stated that he wants to be able to get all of the necessary permits from the city to continue work on the building. He also wants to be granted a judgment against defendants in the amount of $6 million “for reasons explained in this complaint: denial of his right to work on his building for four years, psychological abuse, intimidation, racial discrimination, deceptive practices, violations of his legal rights, building's deterioration, retaliation for not have signed contract etc.”
Further, he said, he wants the city to remove the “Notice of Lis Pendens from records with an apology for having signed contract, etc.”
He also said he wants the judge to declare the city's permit to install a cell tower on the property, “illegal, unconstitutional, invalid, and in violation of Federal Law (OAARA) too.” Roa also wants the judge to “forbid the city from engaging in scare tactics against Plaintiff,” and to “order city to give (him) 15 years to finish his building project like they gave other people” and to require the defendants to present him with an apology for “all of the violations of his rights.”