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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 Yvette Kane

Plaintiffs’ civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983 is before the Court on Defendants’ motion for summary judgment. Defendants argue that this 1983 civil rights action must be dismissed on two bases: (1) that the undisputed facts do not demonstrate violation of a constitutional right, and (2) that even assuming that Plaintiffs have established violation of a protected right, Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity. The motion has been fully briefed and is ripe for disposition. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants’ motion for summary judgment will be denied.

This action arises out of the events surrounding the investigation and trial of Plaintiff, Steven Crawford, for the 1970 murder of John Eddie Mitchell. In 1974, at the age of fourteen, Plaintiff was charged with the crime. He was found guilty by three different juries in 1974, 1977, and 1978, and was sentenced to life imprisonment. Plaintiff was released from prison after twenty-eight years, on July 16, 2002, upon the discovery of exculpatory evidence during the course of Plaintiff’s habeas proceedings.

Judge James M. Munley

In March 2000, plaintiff was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Id. at ¶ 8. As a result, plaintiff has cut back on his work by 50 %. Id. Sometime after plaintiff became ill, he filed a claim with Defendant Equitable. Defendant Disability Management Services (“DMS”), a third party administrator for Equitable, began payment on plaintiff ’s claim in April 2000. Id. at ¶ 10. On April 13, 2001, DMS began payments under a different calculation system, which takes into account his ownership share in the business in calculating his “monthly earnings.” Id. at ¶ 11, Exhibits B and C. In applying this system, DMS has reduced the monthly payments it makes to plaintiff in proportion to losses that the business has been facing . Id. Plaintiff disagrees with the method of benefit calculation and therefore filed the present suit. Id. at ¶ 12.

Defendant LR. Costanzo hired plaintiff on March 11, 1999. Plaintiff contends that she has been exposed to a sexually hostile work environment and has been subject to two forced sexual encounters with Defendant Michalek. In October 2001, plaintiff’s employer requested that she sign an arbitration agreement that would in effect cause her to give up her civil rights and the ability to complain to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) or take the company to court. Plaintiff’s attorney notified the company on October 29, 2001 that she did not want to sign the agreement because of Michalek’s unwelcome sexual attention, unwelcome sexual conduct, sexual assault and because of the hostile work environment. On November 12, 2001, Costanzo placed plaintiff on twelve (12) weeks of unpaid leave. Michalek remains in a managerial position and has jurisdiction over everybody in the company. As a result, plaintiff remains fearful of returning to the company. On January 2, 2002, a psychiatrist advised her not to return. A more detailed explanation of the alleged facts is set forth infra where appropriate.

Plaintiff is an insurance company that provided movants with a million dollar professional liability policy, covering June 6, 1999 to June 6, 2000. Movants are certified public accountants who acted as outside auditors for Novick Chemical Co. In November 1999, movants were sued in an underlying state action for professional malpractice by Defendants Novick Chemical Co., Inc., Edward Novick, and Roberta Novick (“Novick Defendants”). Novick Defendants alleged, inter alia, that movants inaccurately recorded their financial statements.

Movants request that the court dismiss the declaratory judgment complaint with prejudice. They further request that plaintiff be fined for failing to participate in discovery according to its obligations. Finally, they reques tthat plaintiff be ordered to pay all appropriate fees of movants associated with preparation of the numerous rescheduled depositions and the present motions. For the reasons that follow, we will grant the motion in part.

Chief Judge Christopher C. Conner

Presently before the court is a motion by defendant, United Food and Commercial Workers Health and Welfare Fund of Northeastern Pennsylvania (“United Fund”), seeking to dismiss the claims of plaintiff, Empire Kosher Poultry, Inc. (“Empire”), for restitution of amounts mistakenly paid to defendant under a contract between Empire and its employees’ union. (Doc. 5). Empire alleges that United Fund, a multiemployer plan established to provide health and welfare benefits to employees under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 1001-1401, was aware of plaintiff’s error in making the payments and, yet, unjustly retained the additional amounts. (Doc. 1). Defendant argues that dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim is warranted because plaintiff’s claim for restitution is not cognizable under federal common law and plaintiff failed to exhaust mandatory procedures for seeking a refund from United Fund prior to bringing suit. (Doc. 5).

In this case, named plaintiffs, Eddie and Sharon Lester, Gilbert and Madeline Vazquez, Arthur Lucky and Angela Romano-Lucky, and Roy and Yadrisia Lamberty, seek to represent “all persons . . . who purchased a new construction house . . . through the ‘Why-Rent’ program,” operated by named defendants, Gene Percudani (“Percudani”), Chapel Creek Homes, Inc. (“Chapel Homes”), Raintree Homes, Inc. (“Raintree”), Dominick P. Stranieri (“Stranieri”), Chapel Creek Mortgage Banker, Inc. (“Chapel Mortgage”), William Spaner (“Spaner”), and Chase Manhattan Mortgage Corp. (“Chase”). According to plaintiffs, defendants lured customers into the Why-Rent program by advertisements of rent coverage and low monthly mortgage payments, which later proved unavailable, and enabled them to purchase consistently overpriced homes beyond their economic means by manipulating monthly tax and mortgage estimates and credit materials. Following their purchase, tax reassessments resulted in substantial increases in mortgage payments, often causing defaults and foreclosures. Plaintiffs seek damages on behalf of the proposed class under the federal Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (“RICO”) statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1964(c), and the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law (“UTPCPL”), PA. STAT. ANN. tit. 73, § 201-9.2(a).

Judge Sylvia H. Rambo

Plaintiffs, David and Sandra Corneal (“the Corneals”), filed this case alleging the following: violations of their rights pursuant to the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution (Count I); that Defendants engaged in a civil conspiracy in violation of Pennsylvania common law (Count II); that Defendants intentionally interfered with the Corneals’ contractual relations (Count III); and that Defendants’ actions violated the Pennsylvania Constitution (Count IV). Defendants in this action include the following: (1) Jackson Township, Pennsylvania; (2) W. Thomas Wilson; (3) Michael Yoder; (4) Ralph Wiler; (5) Ann L. Wirth, Jackson Township Secretary; (6) David Van Dommelen, Jackson Township’s building permit officer; and (7) Barry Parks, Sewage EnforcementOfficer for Jackson Township. Defendants Wilson, Yoder, and Wiler are members of the Jackson Township Board of Supervisors (“the Board”). The court has subject matter jurisdiction over this action based on 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1367.

Judge Richard P. Conaboy

Before the Court is Magistrate Judge J. Andrew Smyser’s Report and Recommendation, (Doc. 18), filed on June 5, 2003, regarding Plaintiff’s pro se action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on December 5, 2002, (Doc. 1). Plaintiff asserts that Defendants violated his constitutional rights because he was held beyond his maximum release date. In his complaint, Plaintiff requested both immediate release from custody and monetary damages. (Doc. 1, History of the Case at 3.)
On February 19, 2003, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss and a brief in support of the motion. (Docs. 12, 13.) Defendants assert the following grounds for dismissal: 1) the Department and the natural person Defendants are immune from damages by reason of the Eleventh Amendment of the United States Constitution to the extent they are being sued in their official capacities; 2) Plaintiff’s claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 is not cognizable because he has not obtained a favorable decision concerning the time added to his maximum sentence as a result of parole revocation proceedings; and 3) Plaintiff’s claims for injunctive and declaratory relief are moot because he was released from prison on February 9, 2003. Plaintiff filed a Brief in Opposition and a document entitled Motion in Opposition on April 14, 2003. (Docs. 16, 17.) Defendants did not file a reply.

Before the Court is Petitioner John Bianco’s Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, (Doc. 1), in which he alleges that the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) incorrectly calculated his federal sentence when it did not give him credit for all the time he had served on a state sentence. Petitioner is currently incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Facility at Allenwood (FCI-Allenwood) serving a sixty-month sentence imposed on September 25, 2001, upon the revocation of his federal probation. Petitioner was on probation for a 1991 arrest for drug offenses in the Southern District of New York. In 1999, he was sentenced for the 1991 offenses to a term of four years probation. In January of 2001, while still on probation, Petitioner was arrested in California on drug related charges. Following Petitioner’s California arrest, a federal detainer was lodged for violation of his federal probation. After pleading guilty to state charges, he was sentenced in California to one year imprisonment on January 31, 2001. He was brought to New York in March of 2001 to answer on the federal probation violation. On September 25, 2001, Judge Loretta Preska of the Southern District of New York revoked Petitioner’s federal probation and sentenced him to sixty months imprisonment to run concurrently with his state sentence and to run “from the first day he entered federal custody.”