PARKESBURG, PA — A local man has filed a civil lawsuit against the Borough of Parkesburg, and many current and former borough officials, in federal court alleging First and Fourteenth Amendment violations, reports Savannah Howe of the Pennsylvania Record. Joseph M. Rzonca filed the complaint on April 16 in the Eastern Pennsylvania District.
In 2019, Rzonca won a case the Borough had brought against him for nearly $600,000.00 in fines for exposed Tyvek wrap on a foreclosed house, for which he was no longer responsible. The judge in that case found in favor of Rzonco, stating in the decision, “[The Solicitor] sought to ignore common sense and legal requirements in order to go after Rzonca.”
Moreover, the Judge described the Borough’s pursuit of nearly $600,000 as “outrageous, excessive and unconstitutional,” and declared, “It must be stated that the fines sought by the Borough, even if Rzonca is responsible for same, would be grossly disproportionate to the gravity of the alleged violation. Clearly, this runs afoul of the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause.”
Rzonca believes the Borough’s actions were politically motivated and a way to punish him for years of being openly critical of the borough government. His lawsuit accuses the Borough of Parkesburg of retaliation against his scrutiny, submitting open records requests, and questioning how taxpayer money was being spent.
The list of defendants includes the Borough of Parkesburg, Mayor John P. Hagan II, former council president Kathleen M. Rick, former council member Melinda Keen, former borough manager L. James Thomas, former borough secretary Wendy Keegan, former building inspector John P. Coldiron and borough solicitor John S. Carnes.
The plaintiff is seeking at least $1.95 million from the Borough of Parkesburg and the other defendants. He is being represented by the Law Office of Jeffrey P. Hoyle of Media, PA.
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