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DiCicco v. Baltimore County

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland

March 29, 2017

ROBERT DiCICCO, et al.
v.
BALTIMORE COUNTY, MARYLAND

          Wright, Berger, Thieme, Raymond G., Jr. (Senior Judge, Specially Assigned), JJ.

          OPINION

          THIEME, J.

         The Baltimore County Circuit Court reduced to judgment eight separate administrative orders imposing civil penalties totaling $156, 500, against Robert and Emily DiCicco, appellants, for various Baltimore County building code violations on rental property jointly owned by appellants. Proceeding pro se, appellants raise four issues on appeal:

I. Whether appellants were denied due process and equal protection when notices for civil violations, fines, and hearings were mailed to the wrong address;
II. Whether Baltimore County had the authority to enforce permit violations by way of a hearing, fines, and judgments;
III. Whether Baltimore County had the authority to institute judicial proceedings against them; and
IV. Whether the fines assessed against appellants by Baltimore County were illegal and unconstitutional.

         For the reasons that follow, we shall affirm.

         FACTS

         On March 20, 2012, Baltimore County, appellee, filed a complaint in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County to reduce to a judgment eight administrative orders imposing civil penalties against appellants. A one-day bench trial was held on September 11, 2015, at which Robert DiCicco appeared without counsel; his wife, Emily DiCicco, did not appear. [1] During the trial, testimonial and documentary evidence was admitted and the following was established.

         Appellants own a row house that they rent at 403 Murdock Road in the Rodgers Forge neighborhood of Baltimore County. Between 2009 and 2011, eight hearings were held and administrative orders issued imposing civil penalties against appellants for failing to obtain a rental license and maintain the Murdock property in violation of the Baltimore County Code ("BCC"). The civil penalties totaled $156, 500. The order date, type of BCC violation, and civil penalties are as follows:

1. Oct. 5, 2009 - Failure to obtain a rental housing license - $1, 000
2. June 14, 2010 - Failure to make various code repairs from February 27 to June 2, 2010 (broken/missing gutters/downspouts; repair rotten wood on facia, soffits and garage door; missing slates on roof; broken windows; repaint peeling and flaking paint; masonry work) - $20, 000
3. Sept. 29, 2010 - Failure to make any of the above code repairs from around August 3 to September 22, 2010 - $25, 000
4. Nov. 16, 2010 - Failure to obtain a rental housing license - $1, 000
5. May 19, 2011 - Various plumbing code violations from February 17 to March ...

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