Fed. Dist. Court in CT Dismisses Plaintiff’s Claims on Res Judicata and Collateral Estoppel Grounds Regarding Claimed Exemption from Zoning Regulations

This post was authored by Sebastian Perez, Esq.

In 1997, Blinkoff filed a lawsuit against the City of Torrington Planning and Zoning Commission (the “Planning & Zoning Commission”) and several members, alleging discrimination and denial of equal protection. Blinkoff inherited a parcel of land that had been operated as a gravel bank and excavated since the 1950s. She claimed that use of the land as a quarry had been exempt from the City of Torrington’s (the “City”) zoning regulations. Blinkoff alleged that she faced restrictions and selective enforcement based on her gender and religion. The 1997 case went to trial in April 2002, and Blinkoff lost the case. In 2006, Blinkoff filed a complaint in federal court against the City, the Planning & Zoning Commission member David Frascarelli, and the attorney for the City–Nicole Dorman (“Dorman”), alleging witness tampering, exhibit tampering, and mail fraud in connection with a previous case. After a bench trial, the Court denied Blinkoff’s requested relief, and she filed a motion for reconsideration, which was denied. Blinkoff then filed an appeal, which was ultimately denied by the Second Circuit in 2008.

In Blinkoff’s most recent action, she filed suit against the City, the Planning & Zoning Commission, and four individuals, bringing two claims: fraud on the court pursuant to Rule 60(d)(3) of Civil Procedure and a Fourteenth Amendment equal protection claim under 42 USC § 1983. Blinkoff alleged that Dorman lied and said a material witness was unavailable to testify during the 1997 trial. Blinkoff sought relief from the judgment in the 1997 case. The defendants argued that Blinkoff’s claims were precluded by res judicata and collateral estoppel, that his claim was barred by laches, and that his legal conclusions lacked support. The defendants also moved to dismiss Blinkoff’s claims, and to stay discovery pending the Court’s adjudication of their motion to dismiss.

Blink off alleged that she was subjected to onerous conditions that her male and non-Jewish competitors were not subjected to when she applied for an excavation permit on an adjacent parcel of land. The permit was denied, but Blinkoff later discovered that her former competitor, O&G Industries (“O&G”), was operating the quarry without a permit in their name, on a larger scale than what Blinkoff had proposed. Blinkoff claimed that her Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection had been violated and brought both a class-of-one claim and a selective enforcement claim. The defendants argued that the Blinkoff lacked standing because her alleged injuries were only related to financial injuries to her corporation, B&B Group (“B&B”). However, Blinkoff alleged that she owned and operated the quarry as a sole proprietorship, which made her personally liable for all debts and obligations. Therefore, if the B&B was simply the name under which Blinkoff did business, she had standing because she suffered direct financial harm.

The Court concluded by dismissing Blinkoff’s claims with prejudice on grounds of res judicata and collateral estoppel.

Blinkkoff v City of Torrington, 2023 WL 274233 (D. Conn. 3/31/2023)