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Opinions

The Middle District of Pennsylvania offers a database of opinions for the years 1999 to 2012, listed by year and judge. For a more detailed search, enter the keyword or case number in the search box above.

Judge A. Richard Caputo

Presently before the Court is Defendant Mercy Health’s Motion for Summary Judgment. The motion will be denied because there are material issues of fact as to whether McAndrew was disabled, whether she was a qualified individual, and whether Mercy Health discriminated and/or retaliated against her in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Because the Court will not grant summary judgment for the Americans with Disabilities Act claims, I will also continue to maintain supplemental jurisdiction over the state Workers’ Compensation retaliation claim.

Presently before the Court is Petitioner Jose Cristobal Canales-Martinez’s Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus requesting a stay of removal and challenging the removal order. I will deny Petitioner’s petition. I find that Petitioner was never eligible for INA § 212(c) relief, thus there can be no impermissible retroactive effect under INS v. St. Cyr. I also find that the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement is not precluded from initiating INA § 238 removal proceedings while an INA § 240 removal proceeding is pending because the bases for removal under each section are independent from one another. The Court has jurisdiction to decide this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241.

Judge Richard P. Conaboy

The plaintiff has brought this civil action under the authority of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to obtain judicial review of the decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying the claim of the plaintiff for Social Security disability insurance benefits.

On June 14, 1995, the plaintiff, Virginia A. Leslie, applied for disability insurance benefits. She claimed that she became disabled on April 30, 1992, as the result of chronic degenerative changes, and herniated or bulging discs. Her claim was denied initially and on reconsideration. The plaintiff filed a request for a hearing, and a hearing was held before an administrative law judge (ALJ) on March 11, 1999. Tr. 25-67.

Before the Court is Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss Complaint and for a More Specific Complaint, (Doc. 6), filed on September 29, 2003. On June 30, 2003, Plaintiffs filed a complaint asserting five counts against Defendants: Count I - Violation of 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985; Count II - Abuse of Process; Count III - Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress; Count IV - Slander and Defamation; Count V - Negligence. (Doc. 1.) Federal jurisdiction is based on federal question jurisdiction of the §§ 1983 and 1985 claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1343 and supplemental jurisdiction of the common law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367.
 
In the pending motion, Defendants request the Court to dismiss the Complaint in its entirety pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or, in the alternative, to dismiss all counts except Count IV for defamation and require Plaintiffs to file a more specific complaint as to that count. (See Doc. 7 at 4.) Defendants filed a brief in support of their motion on October, 2003, (Doc. 7), and Plaintiffs filed an opposing brief on October 24, 2003, (Doc. 11). Defendants did not file a reply brief and the time for such filing has passed. Therefore, the matter is ripe for disposition. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants’ motion is granted in part and denied in part. In addition, we grant Plaintiffs leave to supplement their complaint regarding the § 1983 liability of Defendants Sugarloaf Township, Sugarloaf Township Police Department and Sugarloaf Township Supervisors.

Judge James M. Munley

On April 18, 2001 d ecedent L inda Jaskoloka, an em ployee of Tobyhanna Township Department of Public works, was working on the highway clearing brush alongside the road and loading it into her truck. See Police Report, Defendant’s Exhib. B. She sustained fatal injuries when a driver, Matthew Ferrell, struck her and crushed her between his automobile and the back o f the dump truck she was using . Id.; Compl. ¶ 5; Answer ¶ 4.

Defendant Jaskoloka, administratrix, made a claim upon Plaintiff Selective to recover underinsured motorist benef its pursuant to a township insurance policy worth $1,000 ,000.00. Compl. ¶¶ 9, 11. Defendant had previously recovered $15,000 from the tortfeasor. Compl. ¶¶ 7-8. It is undisputed that decedent was in the course and scope of employment when killed. Compl. ¶ 5; Answer ¶ 4. Defendant, however, further contends that decedent was an “occupant” of the township’s dump truck, as the term has been defined by the courts of this Commonwealth, when killed. Answer ¶ 4. As such, defendant contends that decedent was covered under the township’s in surance policy.

In August 1992, Luzerne County hired the plaintiff to serve as its Chief Clerk of Assessment. Complaint ¶ 12. During his employment, plaintiff supervised 40-50 employees in the County’s Tax Assessor’s office. See Defendants’ Exhib. 3, p. 22-23. In December 1999, as part of its annual budgeting process, the County finalized the 2000 fiscal year budget. See id. Exhib. 1B. In order to meet the parameters of the budget and the total amount of salaries that were allowed, the county realigned certain departments and eliminated certain positions from the budget, including three (3) full-time positions in the County Assessor’s office. See id. Exhib. 2. After the budget was adopted on December 30, 1999, the plaintiff was notified of the elimination of his position and his termination. See id. Exhib. 3, p. 36.

In January 1999, plaintiff announced his candidacy and sought the democratic nomination for the office of County Commissioner of Luzerne County. Complaint ¶ 14. Plaintiff was unsuccessful in his campaign for County Commissioner. Id. ¶ 19. Plaintiff claims that he was terminated from his position in retaliation for exercising his constitutional rights. Id. ¶ 21.

On January 18, 1993, WEA Manufacturing, Inc. (“WEA”) hired plaintiff as a full-time Mechanical Designer in its Research and Development (“R&D”) Department. Complaint ¶ 6. Plaintiff was fifty-three years of age at the time he was hired. Id. ¶ 5-6. WEA operates a manufacturing facility that produces various multimedia products, including Compact Discs (“CDs”), information CDs (“CD-ROMs”) and Digital Versatile Discs (“DVDs”). Jeffrey Raider Aff. ¶ 3.

On December 13, 2000, plaintiff was informed that the Machine and Mold Shop (“the Shop”) was going to be eliminated and all part fabrication would be outsourced. Id. ¶ 26. Plaintiff was also informed that, since his position was part of this department, he would be terminated. Id. ¶ 27. On April 10, 2001, at the age of sixty-one, plaintiff was terminated. Id. ¶ 43. Plaintiff claims that the functions of his position were still required and were distributed among several other employees who were not as qualified or experienced. Id. ¶ 48. Plaintiff also claims that all of the other younger Shop employees and their supervisor were not terminated. Id. ¶ 6.

Judge Yvette Kane

According to Plaintiff’s complaint, on December 7, 2001, Commerce Bank (“Commerce”) lent PoolPak, Inc. (“PoolPak”) $250,000. On December 24, 2001, Commerce lent PoolPak an additional $250,000. In exchange for these loans totaling $500,000, Commerce held a security interest in any and all outstanding accounts receivable due to PoolPak. On June 6, 2003, Commerce assigned its interest in PoolPak’s accounts receivable to Plaintiffs Frank H. and Rebecca K. Countess. Plaintiffs claim they are entitled to recover $470,806.00 from Defendant Pool Fact, Inc. for goods PoolPak delivered to Defendant, for which Defendant refused to pay.

This is a declaratory judgment action filed by Plaintiff Clarendon National Insurance Company against the City of York, Pennsylvania to disclaim coverage for the civil action against the City and several York police officers filed in this Court and docketed as civil action number 03-169 (the “underlying action” or the “Allen case”).
Charles Robertson, then mayor of York, signed an application for insurance on May 26, 2000. (Doc. No. 23, Ex. I, attach. B). A supplemental application was signed on July 17, 2000. Based on these applications, Plaintiff issued the City public officials and employment practices liability insurance (Policy No. APR 15-00123), effective August 19, 2000 through August 19, 2001, in return for a policy premium of $23,243.

Defendant has moved to suppress all of the evidence seized and to suppress his identification by the officers as “tainted.” Defendant argues (1) it was unreasonable for Officer Fry to stop Defendant’s vehicle, (2) the officers’ identification of Defendant as the driver of the vehicle was unnecessarily suggestive and therefore unreliable, (3) the search of Defendant’s vehicle and the seizure of its contents were unlawful and not justified under the inventory or plain view exceptions.

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