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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

On October 17, 2003, following a jury trial, Defendant Franklin Brown was found guilty on ten counts of a thirty-seven count indictment. After the conviction, the probation office completed its Presentence Investigation Report, which set Defendant’s base offense level at six.1 The probation office calculated that Defendant’s base offense level should be adjusted upward by the following enhancements: (1) plus sixteen based on the amount of the loss calculated to be $38,113,383; (2) plus two because the offense involved more than minimal planning; (3) plus four because Defendant was an organizer and leader of the conspiracy to obstruct justice; (4) plus two for an abuse of a position of trust; and (5) plus two for an obstruction of justice enhancement. With enhancements, Defendant’s total offense level is thirty-two with a corresponding sentencing range of 121-151 months. Defendant submitted various objections, which, if resolved in his favor, would reduce his total offense level by ten levels.

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.

Presently before the court is a motion (Doc. 18) in which defendants, the City of Lebanon (“Lebanon”), the Lebanon Police Pension Fund Board (“Board”), and members of the Board, seek summary judgment on the claims of plaintiff, George C. Pappas (“Pappas”), under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Pappas asserts that the Board violated his rights to due process by failing to assist him in meeting statutory prerequisites for receipt of pension benefits and by denying his request to vest benefits without notice and a hearing.
 
The question presented is whether an agency’s denial of a claim to a benefit constitutes a “deprivation” of “property” under the Due Process Clause when governing law imposes conditions on receipt of the benefit that have not yet been deemed satisfied. For the reasons that follow, the court holds that it does not and will grant defendants’ motion for summary judgment.

Judge Malachy E. Mannion

The plaintiff, Adam Odenwalt, filed the instant action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on behalf of himself and his two (2) minor children. The plaintiff alleges that the defendants have violated his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights in denying him contact visits with his minor children. The defendants have moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).

The documents submitted by the parties establish that Mr. Sopp was involved in a motor vehicle accident on May 5, 1999, which occurred while he was in the scope of his employment with co-defendant Kraft Foods. He sustained a number of injuries as a result of the motor vehicle accident, mostly to his left upper extremity, which are discussed in more detail below. He applied for and received short term disability benefits through August 31, 1999.

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.

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.

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.

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