Elena v. Mun. of San Juan, No. 10-1849 (1st Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs had a longstanding feud with neighbors, based on plaintiffs' "botanical menagerie" that served as a sanctuary for wild parrots. A marker tree spanned the boundary between the plaintiffs' and the neighbors' properties. Claiming that the tree threatened power lines, the neighbors obtained a permit to remove the tree from the Natural Resources Department. The Electric Power Authority temporarily shut off power to the lines and municipal employees removed all of the branches, so that the tree eventually died. Plaintiffs claim that the operation caused extensive damage to other plantings. Plaintiffs sued the municipality, the individual employees, and the neighbors under 42 U.S.C. 1983, claiming failure to provide pre-deprivation notice or opportunity to be heard, taking without just compensation, and intense pain and suffering. After a maze of cross-claims and counterclaims were filed, so that the electric authority became a party, the district court dismissed. The First Circuit affirmed, stating that, even if destruction of the vegetation was improper, plaintiffs did not state any constitutional cause of action.