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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.

Chief Judge Christopher C. Conner

 Defendant Kevin Coles moves the court to suppress evidence resulting from his detention and arrest on July 7, 2016, and statements made during an August 11, 2016 interrogation. (Docs. 67, 69). Coles also seeks to suppress all evidence gathered during execution of a search warrant at a residence located in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. (Doc. 100). The court will grant in part and deny in part Coles’ motions.
 

Defendant Robert Cormier (“Cormier”) moves the court to withdraw his guilty plea pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(d)(2). See FED. R. CRIM. P. 11(d)(2). Cormier claims that prior counsel provided ineffective assistance concerning his exposure to an enhanced sentence under the Armed Career Criminal Act, 18 U.S.C. § 924(e). The court will deny Cormier’s motion.

Malibu Media, LLC, commenced the above-captioned action against John Doe, asserting one count of copyright infringement pursuant to the United States Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. § 101 et seq. John Doe rejoins with counterclaims and third-party claims for common law fraud as well as violation of Pennsylvania‟s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law, 73 PA. STAT. AND CONS. ANN. § 201-1 to -9.3, and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1963 et seq. Before the court are motions to dismiss by counterclaim defendant Malibu Media, LLC, and third-party defendants Christopher Fiore, Esquire, and Colette Pelissier-Field.

Defendant Helene Mitchell (“Mitchell”) pled guilty in December of 2006 to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g) and 924(e). Because Mitchell had three or more qualifying prior convictions under the Armed Career Criminal Act (“ACCA” or “the Act”), she received a mandatory minimum sentence of fifteen years‟ imprisonment. See 18 U.S.C. § 924(e). Mitchell presently moves the court for vacatur of her fifteen-year sentence in light of the United States Supreme Court‟s decision in Johnson v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015), which invalidated the ACCA‟s residual clause as unconstitutionally vague. Id. at 2557. For the reasons that follow, the court will grant Mitchell‟s motion (Doc. 83) and schedule resentencing forthwith.

Plaintiff Arthur Johnson ("Johnson" or ―Mr. Johnson‖) is a convicted murderer. He has been in the custody of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections ("the Department") since 1973, serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole. For the past thirty-six years, the Department has held Mr. Johnson in solitary confinement—his entire existence restricted, for at least twenty-three hours per day, to an area smaller than the average horse stall. Astoundingly, Mr. Johnson continues to endure this compounding punishment, despite the complete absence of major disciplinary infractions for more than a quarter century.

Mr. Johnson initiated this cause to challenge his institutional exile as violative of the United States Constitution. Presently, Mr. Johnson moves the court to compel the Department to: (1) stop his interminable isolation and (2) release him to general population.

Judge John E. Jones III

The facts of this case are uncomplicated and undisputed. They arise against the backdrop of claiming races – a common practice in the world of thoroughbred horse racing. In a claiming race, each horse in a given race is available to be purchased (or “claimed”) for a price posted before the race. Each horse in a single race will post for roughly the same price, which dissuades owners from entering strong horses to compete against a weaker field or risk losing a good horse for less than it is worth. This “leveling” of the field helps to ensure interesting, competitive races and fosters greater excitement for the local horse racing market. Through claiming races, owners have an effective way of buying and selling horses while racetracks enjoy a consistent stable of horses to race. More races of better quality leads to higher gambling revenues and a stronger industry. Pennsylvania, among other states, has implemented rules to regulate claiming races, including Rule 163.255, which is the subject of this lawsuit. Rule 163.255, as we will more fully discuss later, establishes what is known as “claiming jail,” which is a temporary limitation on where owners may race newly claimed horses.

Plaintiff initiated this action by filing a Complaint on August 15, 2016, followed by an Amended Complaint on August 18, 2016. (Docs. 1, 4). Defendants initially filed a Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim on August 25, 2016. (Doc. 10). However, we stayed the case by Order dated September 14, 2016, (Doc. 15), pending resolution of unsettled state law in state court. Following a decision by the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, we issued an Order lifting the stay on November 15, 2016. (Doc. 18). Defendants subsequently filed another Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim on December 1, 2016. (Doc. 21). Plaintiff filed a Motion for Leave to File a Second Amended Complaint on January 9, 2017, (Doc. 25), which we granted by Memorandum and Order on April 24, 2017. (Doc. 32). Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint on May 14, 2017. (Doc. 33). Defendants subsequently filed the present Motion to Dismiss on May 26, 2017. (Doc. 34). Defendants filed their supporting brief on June 8, 2017, (Doc. 37), Plaintiff filed his opposition brief on June 22, 2017, (Doc. 40), and Defendants filed their reply brief on June 30, 2017. (Doc. 41).

Presently pending before the Court are two motions to dismiss filed by the Defendants. (Docs. 21, 23). Plaintiffs are Ranay Rohrbaugh ("Ranay"), a minor, by and through her parents Linda and James Rohrbaugh, and Linda and James Rohrbaugh individually. Defendants are Lincoln Intermediate Unit ("Lincoln"), West York Area School District ("West York"), and Maryanne Kreuz. Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint on January 27, 2017. (Doc. 16). Count I is against all Defendants and claims a violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 794. ("Section 504"). Count II is against all Defendants and claims a violation of Due Process, 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Count III is against Kreuz only and claims assault and battery under Pennsylvania common law. West York filed a motion to dismiss on February 10, 2017, along with a brief in support. (Docs. 21, 22). Lincoln and Kreuz also filed a motion to dismiss and a brief in support on February 10, 2017. (Docs. 23, 24). Plaintiffs filed a brief in opposition to both motions on March 13, 2017. (Doc. 29). The Defendants filed replies on March 27, 2017. (Docs. 31, 32). The motions are fully briefed and ripe for our review. For the reasons that follow, the motions are granted and the case closed.

Presently pending before the Court is a motion to dismiss (the “Motion”) filed by Defendants Medtronic, Inc, Medtronic Puerto Rico Operations, Co, and Medtronic Logistics, LLC. (collectively “Medtronic”) (Doc. 9). Plaintiff Jason Silver brings seven counts against Medtronic arising out of the alleged malfunction of a Medtronic device, the SynchroMed II. (Doc. 1). The Motion has been fully briefed (Docs. 11, 14, 15) and is therefore ripe for our review. For the reasons that follow, the Motion shall be granted in part and denied in part.

The Motion asks the Court to amend or alter our Order of November 9, 2015, where we granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss and found that Plaintiff Keyes was barred from raising his Second Amendment as-applied challenge by issue preclusion. In accordance with the standard of review applicable to a motion to dismiss, the following facts are derived from the Plaintiffs’ Complaint and are viewed in the light most favorable to the Plaintiffs.
 
Plaintiff Michael Keyes is a Master Trooper with the Pennsylvania State Police (“PSP”). (Doc. 1, ¶ 7). Plaintiff Jonathan Yox is a State Correctional Officer at the State Correctional Institution at Graterford. (Id., ¶ 8).
 
Both Keyes and Yox were each once involuntarily committed for mental health concerns. Keyes was involuntarily committed as an adult at Holy Spirit Hospital in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, on August 25, 2006, as a result of “imbibing in alcoholic beverages and making suicidal statements” as he was struggling through an “emotionally devastating” divorce. (Id., ¶¶ 7, 21). He was initially involuntarily committed pursuant to 50 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 7302, allegedly in the absence of any due process, and then later, pursuant to 50 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 7303. (Id.). He was released by September 8, 2006. (Id.). Keyes never threatened to use a firearm against himself or others. (Id., ¶ 22).
 
Yox was involuntarily committed as a juvenile at York Hospital, in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, on March 30, 2006. (Id., ¶ 50). He had been emotionally devastated by his parents’ divorce and had begun cutting himself under the influence of an older girl. They also had made a suicide pact together. (Id., ¶¶ 48-50). He was also initially involuntarily committed pursuant to 50 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 7302, allegedly in the absence of due process, and then later, pursuant to 50 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 7303. (Id., ¶ 50). Yox was released by April 6, 2006. (Id.). In 2008, when he was 17, Yox enlisted in the U.S. Army. He honorably served until 2012, when he received an honorable discharge. (Id., ¶¶ 52-53). During his time in the military, Yox spent six and a half months in a combat zone in Afghanistan. (Id., ¶ 54). During his military service, Yox was trained to use, and did use, various kinds of firearms, including fully automatic rifles, machine guns, explosives, and grenade launchers. (Id., ¶ 55). Upon his return from Afghanistan, Yox was not recommended for further psychological evaluation after his deployment briefing. (Id., ¶ 56).

 

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