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Opinions

The Middle District of Pennsylvania offers a database of opinions for the years 1999 to present, listed by year and judge. For a more detailed search, enter the keyword or case number in the search box above.

Judge Sylvia H. Rambo

The instant case is a civil rights action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C § 1983 wherein Plaintiffs allege that Defendants violated their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights of free speech, freedom of assembly, and free exercise of religion. The following facts are undisputed unless otherwise noted.1 Plaintiffs are individuals who practice Christianity and whose sincerely held religious beliefs require them to preach publicly “in order to make the public aware of sin, including the sin of Halloween and of abortion.” (Pls.’ Sep. Stat. of Mat. Facts ¶ 3.) Plaintiffs exercise their religious beliefs by traveling to events across the country that draw large numbers of people in order to preach to crowds gathered at these events, to hand out tracts containing religious exhortations and to display signs containing, among other things, pictures of aborted fetuses. Defendants Russell Tschopp III, Kim Hibner, Eddie Lowe, and Roger Nestor are officers of the Police Department of the City of York (collectively “the Individual Defendants”). All of the Individual Defendants have had, at the time of their training at the police academy, training in the area of free speech rights. Defendant City of York (“the City”) is a municipal corporation organized and existing under the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Before the court is Petitioner Luis Gomez’s petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Petitioner, who is currently detained in Pike County, Pennsylvania, challenges the lawfulness of his final order of removal from the United States and asserts that his removal is not appropriate because he is a national under 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(22). Because the court concludes that Petitioner is not a national, the court will deny his habeas petition.

Chief Judge Christopher C. Conner

Presently before the court are objections (Doc. 14) by petitioner, Robert S. Barnhart (“Barnhart”), to the report of the magistrate judge finding petitioner’s claim of unconstitutional denial of parole by respondent, the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole (“Board”), to be procedurally barred and recommending dismissal of the petition for writ of habeas corpus without prejudice to allow petitioner to seek additional state collateral review of his claim. Petitioner contends that his procedural default should be excused. Alternatively, he requests that the instant action be held in abeyance while he pursues available state remedies.
 
Resolution of the objections requires an examination of the twin doctrines of exhaustion and procedural default. For the following reasons, the court adopts the finding of the magistrate judge that petitioner’s claim is procedurally barred. However, the court concludes that a stay of this action is not warranted because state remedies are unavailable. Therefore, the court will dismiss the petition for writ of habeas corpus with prejudice.

Presently before the court in this Uniform Commercial Code (“U.C.C.”) case are several dispositive motions in which the parties seek recognition of their respective security interests in certain collateral of a common debtor as superior to others. Plaintiff, InterBusiness Bank, N.A. (“InterBusiness”), contends that defendant, First National Bank of Mifflintown (“First National”), lacked a valid interest in the “inventory” and “accounts receivable” of the debtor and yet collected and liquidated those assets in derogation of plaintiff’s superior interest. Defendant disagrees, asserting that assignments from third-party defendants, Allied Capital Corporation and its subsidiary and successor corporations (collectively “Allied Capital”), were effective to give it a priority interest in the collateral. Defendant further argues that plaintiff does not possess a security interest in the collateral because (1) the documents defining plaintiff’s interest refer only to “goods” and “accounts,” not “inventory” and “accounts receivable,” and (2) any interest that plaintiff had in the collateral was extinguished when plaintiff obtained satisfaction of the underlying debt in state court execution proceedings relating to a separate mortgage agreement between plaintiff and the debtor.
 
The questions presented in the motions are (1) whether parties may obtain priority security interests through assignment, (2) whether generic references in a financing statement to “goods” and “accounts” are effective to cover an interest in “inventory” and “accounts receivable” of the debtor, and (3) whether a security interest in collateral is deemed extinguished by operation of Pennsylvania law when the secured party purchases the real property of the debtor during execution proceedings on the underlying debt. For the reasons that follow, these questions must all be answered in the affirmative. Finding that the complaint states a valid claim for relief and that material questions of fact remain, the court will deny the cross-motions for summary judgment (Docs. 13, 20) and the motion to dismiss.

Judge A. Richard Caputo

Presently before the Court is Defendant Friendly Ice Cream Corporation’s (hereinafter Friendly’s) Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. 12.) Plaintiff Dorothy Bearley is alleging violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act. Friendly’s motion will be granted with respect to the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Americans With Disabilities Act, and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act. The Court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and 28 U.S.C. 1367.

Presently before the Court is Magistrate Judge Malachy E. Mannion’s Report and Recommendation. (Doc. 2.) Magistrate Judge Mannion recommends that I dismiss the Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (Doc. 1) and direct the INS1 to treat the petition as a request for administrative review under 8 C.F.R. § 241.4. Based on the following, I will reject the Report and Recommendation because Petitioner has exhausted his administrative remedies.

Presently before the Court are two motions to treat counterclaims as affirmative defenses, one filed by Stephen Flood and The Luzerne County Retirement Board (hereinafter the Board) (Doc. 256.1) and the other filed by the Luzerne County Retirement Fund1 (hereinafter the Fund) (Doc. 259.1). I will grant the portion of the motion requesting dismissal of the counterclaim against Stephen Flood for intentional interference with contract2 because all of the alleged actions by Mr. Flood were while he was acting as an agent of a party to the contract. I will deny the remainder of the motions--because indemnity and contribution are properly classified as counterclaims.

Presently before the Court are two partial motions dismiss the third-party complaints against Michael Morreale. (Docs. 257.1 and 258.1.) I will grant the motion to dismiss the indemnity claim brought by Defendants Makowski, Pizano, Crossin, and Jones (hereinafter Makowski et al.) because, as voting members of the Luzerne County Retirement Board, no trustee can be more responsible than any other trustee. I will dismiss the claim of intentional interference with contractual relations1 raised by ASCO Financial Group, Donald Williamson, Maria Williamson, Joseph Perfilio, and Michael Joyce (hereinafter ASCO et al.) because Michael Morreale was acting as an agent of the Luzerne County retirement plan. The accompanying request for punitive damages is therefore also dismissed, thus, Mr. Morreale’s motion to dismiss punitive damages is moot.

Judge Malachy E. Mannion

The documents submitted by the parties establish that Mr. Knoblauch was employed by co-defendant Metropolitan Life (“MetLife” ) as of August 23, 2000, at which time he stopped working as a result of a diagnosis of pancreatitis, with subsequent serious and prolonged complications. He applied for and received short term disability benefits under the Disability Insurance Plan (“plan”) maintained by MetLife for the benefit of its employees. After the required period of short term disability benefits expired, the plaintiff applied for and received long term disability benefits under the plan. The plan is administered by co-defendant Synchrony Integrated Disability Services, Inc. On May 7, 2002, the plaintiff’s long term disability benefits were terminated retroactive to April 30, 2002. The benefits were terminated at that time because the defendants concluded, after reviewing the plaintiff’s medical records, including a functional capacity examination (“FCE”), that the plaintiff had recovered sufficiently from his medical conditions so that he could return to his regular job duties as a sales representative, or another similar job in the local economy. (Doc. No. 20, pp. 111-112). The plaintiff filed an administrative appeal of this determination with the plan administrator which was denied on July 16, 2002.

Petitioner Farouk Abdel-Muhti, a detainee of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”), is subject to a final order of removal dated September 25, 1995, to deport him to either Jordan or Israel. (Doc. No. 8, Ex. 1). He filed this habeas corpus petition, brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, in the District Court for the District of New Jersey on November 6, 2002. On June 3, 2003, after Petitioner was moved to the York County Prison, his case was transferred to this Court. An Amended Verified Petition was filed on September 11, 2003. (Doc. No. 8). A hearing on the petition was conducted on March 30, 2004.1 Petitioner alleges, inter alia, that his continued detention while awaiting removal, now approaching two years, is in violation of §241(a)(6) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as interpreted by the Supreme Court in Zadvydas v. Davis, 533 U.S. 678 (2001). For the reasons explained below, this Court must agree. Accordingly, his release will be ordered under conditions of supervision set forth in 8 U.S.C. §1231(a)(3) and implementing regulations.

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