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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

Removal, personal jurisdiction, and venue occasionally conspire to render the question of where a case proceeds as great a controversy as how it proceeds. A corporation based in Maryland asserts that a federal court sitting in Pennsylvania lacks statutory and constitutional authority to bind the company to judgment in an action removed from the state judiciary. This court disagrees, and finds that maintenance of this suit for benefits under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 1001-1401, comports with federal personal jurisdiction and venue requirements.

This property rights case has been 150 years in the making. Plaintiffs claim an easement over railroad tracks presently operated by defendant, Norfolk Southern Railway Company (“Norfolk”). The land underlying the tracks was once owned by plaintiffs’ predecessors in interest, and a crossing has been maintained for their benefit since before 1850. Nevertheless, Norfolk denies the existence of an easement and recently announced plans to close the crossing. Plaintiffs seek a declaration of their rights and an injunction against the closure.

Judge John E. Jones III

Following Nadia Macheska’s (“Macheska” or “Plaintiff”) voluntary dismissal of all claims against Thomson Learning and Harcourt Learning Direct (“Thomson” or “Defendants”), the Defendants filed this Motion for Fees and Costs (doc. 30) against Macheska’s counsel of record, Paul M. Jennings, Esq., (“Jennings”) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1927.
 
This case arose out of the termination of Plaintiff’s employment at Thomson on September 17, 2001 and the legality of the Separation Agreement and General Release (the “Release”) signed by the Plaintiff on November 5, 2001, and by Thomson’s Vice President Steven A. Moll (“Moll”) on December 1, 2001. On October 31, 2003, Macheska initiated this action, wherein she alleges that she lacked the capacity necessary to legally execute the Release. Following somewhat limited but costly and time-consuming discovery by Thomson, as well as an aborted attempt to appoint a guardian for Macheska in the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas, Macheska voluntarily withdrew all of her claims against Thomson. Subsequently, the instant motion seeking costs and fees was filed by Thomson. A timely response was filed by Jennings, and oral argument was conducted on October 25, 2004. At oral argument, certain additional exhibits were requested and received by the Court. Following these supplements to the record by both parties, the Motion is now ripe for our review.
 
We will grant Thomson’s Motion to the extent that we will consider an award of fees and costs incurred by Thomson between March 1, 2004 and July 7, 2004.

Judge A. Richard Caputo

The present action focuses on the events leading up to and surrounding the investment contracts made by the Luzerne County Retirement Board and Board members during the period of 1988 and 2002. Plaintiffs allege that various Board members engaged in a pay-to-play scheme in which contracts to invest or manage pension plan assets were awarded in exchange for campaign contributions to various Board members’ reelection campaigns.

Presently before the Court is Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 19) pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The Court converted Defendant’s motion to a Rule 56 motion for summary judgment. (Doc. 24.) Due to the limitations on Congress’ waiver of the United States’ sovereign immunity set forth in the Federal Tort Claims Act, 5 U.S.C. § 8101, et seq., and the compensation system established for federal employees by the Federal Employee Compensation Act, 5 U.S.C. § 5101, et seq., the Court lacks jurisdiction over the subject matter of this action. Accordingly, the Court will grant Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 19) pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Because Defendant’s motion will be decided on jurisdictional grounds alone, the Court will not address the converted Rule 12(b)(6) motion.

Presently before the Court is Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss and for Summary Judgment (Doc. 16), Magistrate Judge J. Andrew Smyser’s Report and Recommendation (Doc. 30), and Plaintiff’s Objection to Magistrate Report and Recommendation Dated January 15, 2004. (Doc. 31.) On August 13, 2003, Plaintiff, an inmate at United States Penitentiary at Allenwood (hereinafter USP-Allenwood) filed the present action. The Complaint raised claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act (hereinafter FTCA), 20 U.S.C. § 26714, et seq., and Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. 403 U.S. 388 (1971). Plaintiff claims that while incarcerated at USP-Allenwood he has not received proper medical treatment for abdominal pain, anal pain, knee pain, and a positive purified protein derivative (PPD) test.

The subject of the November 2, 2004 Presidential Election has been before this Court since April of this year when the United States Attorney General sought and obtained injunctive relief under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act of 1986, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1973ff-1 et seq. (“UOCAVA”), to protect the right of overseas and military voters to participate in primary elections. In connection with United States of America v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, et al., (Civil Action No. 1:04-CV-830), the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has reported to the United States Attorney General regarding the Commonwealth’s compliance with election laws as they affect overseas and military voters, including providing information concerning the mailing of absentee ballots.

Judge Yvette Kane

In connection with the November 2, 2004 General Election, Pennsylvania’s sixty-seven counties have issued a total of 26,739 absentee ballots to overseas and military voters. The first of these was dispatched to voters in remote locations on August 24, 2004. These ballots included the names of Ralph Nader as a candidate for President and Peter Miguel Camejo, a candidate for Vice President. Thereafter, the sufficiency of Messrs. Nader and Camejo’s nomination paper was the subject of a legal challenge in the Commonwealth and Supreme Courts of Pennsylvania. As the challenge was heard on appeal and remand, Nader and Camejo were ordered off the ballot, then on the ballot, and then off the ballot again.
The 2004 Pennsylvania General Election Ballot was first certified by the Secretary of the Commonwealth pursuant to state law on September 17, 2004. At that time, consistent with the court order then in effect, the Secretary’s Ballot Certification excluded the names of Nader and Camejo. Counties issued absentee ballots reflecting the amended certified list of candidates without Messrs. Nader and Camejo listed as candidates. On September 21, 2004, the Secretary amended the Certification to add Nader and Camejo to the ballot. On October 13, 2004, pursuant to court order, Nader and Camejo were again removed from the Secretary’s list of certified candidates.

Judge Richard P. Conaboy

We consider in this Memorandum Plaintiff William P. Kripplebauer’s Motion for New Trial, (Doc. 164), filed pursuant to Rule 59(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The matter has been fully briefed and is ripe for disposition.

Judge Malachy E. Mannion

In 1990 the petitioner was convicted on two charges of rape, and sentenced to 10 to 20 years incarceration. His minimum sentence was served as of September 13, 2000, and his maximum sentence is due to expire on September 13, 2010. (Doc. No. 31, Declaration of Benjamin A. Martinez, Chairman, Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole (“Martinez Decl.”), ¶ 23). The Parole Board interviewed the petitioner for parole consideration on three occasions: June 2000, June 2003 and June 2004. Before each interview the petitioner was advised by Department of Corrections staff who evaluated him that they were recommending that he not be granted parole due to, among other things, his refusal to participate in a sex offender program

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