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.

12/28/2001

  • 3:00-CV-1251 SMITH v. CGU
    File:

    In an independent action in the Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County, Thomas Smith, a passenger, received a verdict against Mark Hartung, the driver of an automobile owned by Deborah Palma.

    In this case, a declaratory judgment action, Defendant CGU (the insurer of Deborah Palma) asks the Court to declare it is not responsible to pay the verdict amount to Thomas Smith because Mark Hartung did not have permission to use the automobile of Deborah Palma.

    As discussed fully herein, we find Thomas Smith cannot prove that Mark Hartung had permission to use the automobile. We will, therefore, grant the Defendant, CGU’s request, and declare it is not responsible to pay the verdict amount to the Plaintiff, Thomas Smith.

11/30/2001

  • 3:01-1932 FEDERAL HOME LOAN MORTGAGE CORP. v. STEVENS
    File:

    On October 5, 2001, the plaintiff filed an “Action in Mortgage Foreclosure” against the defendant. (Doc. No. 1). Thereafter on November 27, 2001, plaintiff filed a “Motion For Special Service Pursuant To Special Order Of Court.” (Doc. No. 3). The request was made because of plaintiff’s apparent inability to serve the defendant with a copy of the complaint.

11/14/2001

  • 1:CV-01-1226 WILSON v. I.N.S.
    File:

    The petitioner, Gladwin Wilson, has filed a pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus, cognizable under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Wilson, a citizen of Guyana, is challenging a final order of removal based on a finding that he has been convicted of an aggravated felony mandating deportation to Guyana. Wilson argues that the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) failed to meet its burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that he committed an aggravated felony.

10/31/2001

  • 3:00-CV-1617 BEHM, et al. v. LUZERNE COUNTY CHILDREN & YOUTH POLICY MAKERS, et al.
    File:

    Now before the Court is Defendants’ motion to dismiss Plaintiffs’ amended complaint. (Doc. 14.) Plaintiffs’ original complaint was filed on September 11, 2000. (Doc. 1.) Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint on February 15, 2001. (Doc. 8.) The present motion to dismiss was filed by Defendants Luzerne County Child and Youth Services, Helen Mericle, Jacqui Maddon, Ellis W. Carle, Peggy A. Peterson, David Gryczko, and Anthony Michaels on April 23, 2001. Defendants Pennsylvania Department of Welfare (PDW) and Pennsylvania Division of Children, Youth and Families (PDCYF) filed a separate motion to dismiss on August 10, 2001. (Doc. 18.) I granted Defendants PDW and PDCYF’s motion to dismiss on September 27, 2001. (Doc. 20.)

    In the present case, Defendants’ motion to dismiss on the grounds of statute of limitations, collateral estoppel and Rooker-Feldman will be denied. Defendants’ motion to dismiss Counts I, II, and V of Plaintiffs’ amended complaint, and Plaintiffs’ claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress, will be granted. Defendants’ motion to dismiss Count IV of the amended complaint, as it pertains to Defendant Maddon, will also be granted. Defendants’ motion to dismiss Counts II will be denied, as will Defendants’ motion to dismiss Count IV as it pertains to Defendants Mericle and Caprio. In addition, I do not reach Defendants’ argument that portions of Plaintiffs’ amended complaint should be stricken for scandalous and impertinent material, as Defendants have not filed the appropriate motion under Rule 12(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

10/26/2001

  • 3:CV-01-1990 BOLUS v. DISTRICT ATTORNEY OF LACKAWANNA COUNTY, et al.
    File:

    Presently before me is Petitioner Robert Bolus’ petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 and § 2254, filed October 17, 2001. The District Attorney of Lackawanna County and the Attorney General of The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania are named as respondents. Because I find that Petitioner does not meet the “in custody” requirement, I will dismiss his petition for writ of habeas corpus.

10/22/2001

  • 3:01cv211 KHAZZAKA v. UNIVERSITY OF SCRANTON
    Judge:
    File:

    According to the plaintiff’s complaint, the facts of this case are as follows: Plaintiff commenced employment with the defendant as an associate professor in June 1994. On February 7, 1997, plaintiff was approved for tenure. In November of 1996, Dr. Cathleen Jones filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission asserting that she had been discriminated against by the defendant based upon her sex and her ancestry or origin, that being Mexican. In February 1997, after receiving tenure, the plaintiff was asked to make a statement in favor of Jones, and he did so.

    After demonstrating his support of Jones, plaintiff was subjected to a series of harassing memorandums and numerous meetings, resulting in a hostile work environment. Defendant retaliated against the plaintiff by not re-appointing him as director of secondary education. Additional actions occurred that caused plaintiff’s work environment to become extremely hostile. Finally, in February 1999, plaintiff was suspended because the defendant deemed him erratic, unusual and difficult. Plaintiff claims that his suspension was due to discrimination based upon his Lebanese origin and retaliation for backing Jones’ position against the defendant. In September 1999, plaintiff’s employment was terminated. Subsequently, the Plaintiff filed the instant six count complaint alleging as follows: Count I, discrimination in employment; Count II, age discrimination ; Count III, breach of contract; Count IV, breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing; Count V, violation of public policy; and Count VI, fraud, deceit and misrepresentation. Defendant has filed a motion to dismiss and/or strike the plaintiff’s complaint pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 12(b)(6), bringing the action to its present posture.

10/18/2001

  • 1:CV-01-0401 SCHIAZZA, et al. v. ZONING HEARING BOARD OF FAIRVIEW TOWNSHIP, YORK COUNTY, PA
    File:

    This case involves a decision by Defendant Zoning Hearing Board of Fairview Township (the “Zoning Board”) denying Plaintiffs’ application for approval to erect a wireless communications tower. The following facts are undisputed unless otherwise indicated: Plaintiff Delaware Valley PCS Communications, LLC (“Delaware Valley”) is a Delaware limited liability company registered to do business in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Delaware Valley is licensed by the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) to provide wireless communications service.

    Plaintiffs Robert and Diane Schiazza (“Schiazzas”) own a 9.4 acre tract of land located at 521 Locust Road in Fairview Township, York County, Pennsylvania. The property in question is located in the Commercial Highway District as designated by the Fairview Township Zoning Ordinance (“Zoning Ordinance”). The Schiazzas entered into a license agreement with Delaware Valley granting the telecommunications company permission to construct a 150 foot tall wireless communication tower on their property. Additionally, Delaware Valley agreed to obtain the necessary zoning approvals. The Schiazzas currently operate a roller skating rink on their property.

10/16/2001

  • 1:00-CV-480 AYERS v. THE MAPLE PRESS COMPANY
    File:

    Plaintiff Margaret Ayers (“Plaintiff”) was an employee of Defendant Maple Press Company and Affiliated Companies (“Defendant”) and covered under Defendant’s Employee Benefit Plan (“the Plan”) when, on December 13, 1997, her truck left the roadway and struck a tree. Plaintiff sustained serious injuries, was in a coma for six weeks and incapacitated for a further period of time thereafter. She is now a quadriplegic and unable to work. Her mother, Jeanne M. Spiker (“Spiker”) obtained power of attorney and commenced these proceedings.

    Tests performed on Plaintiff at the hospital after the crash showed a blood alcohol level of 0.144 and a police report showed a blood alcohol content of 0.13, both of which exceed the level defining “under the influence” in Pennsylvania law. The parties dispute whether Plaintiff was under the influence at the time her injuries were incurred. While the blood test evidence indicate that she was, Plaintiff questions the method and accuracy of testing, the timing of testing after the injuries, and extrapolation of those test results back in time to determine her blood alcohol level at the time the injuries were incurred.
  • 3:00cv1941 KINBACK CORPORATION v. QUAKER CONSTRUCTION MANAGEMENT, INC.
    File:

    According to the plaintiff’s complaint, the facts are as follows: The Tamaqua Area School District invited sealed bids for the construction of a middle school in March 1999. On May 6, 1999, Quaker and Kinback were awarded the general trades contract and the electrical contract respectively.

    Kinback could perform a substantial portion of its electrical work only after other trades had completed certain portions of their work. The construction project began to experience delays as a result of Quaker being unable to meet any of its construction deadlines. The project began to operate out of sequence. Electrical work could not be installed in a productive manner until the building structure was reasonably complete; therefore, the other contractors had to substantially complete their work before Kinback could begin its primary work. Because of the delays caused by Quaker, Kinback had to accelerate staffing levels and work overtime in order to complete designated areas for the owner’s occupancy. As a result of the delays caused by Quaker, Kinback incurred substantial additional costs by not being able to complete the project by its final completion date. These additional costs include labor and material surcharges in excess of $250,000.00.

10/09/2001

  • 3:99-CV-0716 WALKER-SERRANO v. LEONARD, et al.
    File:

    Plaintiff, Amanda Walker-Serrano, filed this civil rights action on May 4, 1999 against Donald Leonard, Dr. Clyde Ellsworth, Nancy Simon, and Pat Carpenter, individually and in their official capacities at Lackawanna Trail Schools, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violation of her First Amendment rights, emotional distress, and various state law claims. (Doc. 1.) Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment on May 30, 2000. (Doc. 13.) Magistrate Judge Thomas M. Blewitt has recommended that the Court grant Defendants qualified immunity in their individual capacities, grant Defendants’ motion for summary judgment with respect to all Plaintiff’s federal claims, and that the state claims be dismissed without prejudice. (Report and Recommendation, Doc. 24.) Plaintiff filed a timely objection to the Magistrate Judge’s report and recommendation. (Doc. 27.) After making a de novo determination of the case, I adopt that recommendation. Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity on all claims, as Plaintiff’s First Amendment rights were not clearly established. Defendants‘ conduct did not violate any of Plaintiff’s First Amendment rights. I further find that the School District cannot be held liable under Monell liability for First Amendment violation. Accordingly, as Plaintiff’s federal law claims are dismissed, I agree with the Magistrate Judge that Plaintiff’s state law claims are dismissed without prejudice.

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