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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.

Judge Sylvia H. Rambo

Plaintiffs Richard Vieth, Norma Jean Vieth, and Susan Furey brought this action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against Defendant Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Defendant Executive Officers, and Defendant Presiding Officers. Plaintiffs’ claims arise out of the enactment of Pennsylvania Senate Bill 1200 (“Act 1”), Pennsylvania’s Congressional redistricting plan, which Governor Schweiker signed into law on January 7, 2002.

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.

Judge Malachy E. Mannion

Judge Raymond J. Durkin on September 21, 1999. (Doc. No. 12) This action arose out of a fire that occurred on January 20, 1999 at 25-26 Pugh Street, Edwardsville, Pennsylvania. The plaintiffs, Anthony and Henrietta Valenti, were the owners of a rental property located at the above mentioned address. They were insured by the Allstate Insurance Company for fire damage under Insurance Policy No. 098095949. The policy was in effect on the date of the fire which destroyed the building. Following the fire, the plaintiffs submitted a claim for property damage to the Allstate Insurance Company. Allstate denied the claim.

The fire was an arson, a fact not disputed by any of the parties. The defendant, however, claimed that Anthony Valenti was responsible for an intentional act of arson on the property. Therefore, pursuant to an exclusion in the policy, Allstate claimed that plaintiffs were not entitled to any compensation under its policy. Further, the defendant alleged that the plaintiffs made false and fraudulent representations in the presentation of their claim to Allstate.

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.

Before the court is the plaintiff Mary Lou Evan’s motion to preclude the defendant’s introduction at trial of surveillance videotape evidence. (Doc. No. 24). This matter has come before the court as a result of an automobile accident that occurred on September 12, 1997. Following that accident, a civil action was filed by the plaintiff in the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County but later removed by the defendant to this federal court. (Doc. No. 1). In June of 2000, a case management order was entered by the Honorable Raymond J. Durkin in which he set forth dates to control the orderly pretrial progression of this matter. (Doc. No. 9). Included in that order was a discovery deadline of June 1, 2000. By order of the court, and agreement of counsel, that discovery deadline was later extended until September 30, 2000.

Judge Richard P. Conaboy

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.

Judge William W. Caldwell

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.

Judge James M. Munley

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.

Defendant Federal Bureau of Prisons hired the plaintiff, John Kondrat, as a physician assistant on May 11, 1997. Physician assistants work under the license of a physician, who grants them privileges to perform certain medical tasks. Plaintiff worked under the medical license of Dr. Niianjana Shah, the Clinical Director of the Federal Correctional Institution Schuylkill, (hereinafter “FCI-Schuylkill”). Plaintiff is a white Caucasian male of United States origin. Shah is a female of Indian national origin. She supervised the medical performance of the physician assistants employed at the institution.

Plaintiff has brought a “reverse discrimination” suit against the defendants and alleges as follows in his complaint: During plaintiff’s employment at FCI-Schuylkill, Shah was heard to say in the presence of others that “this is a white man’s world” and that “she is sick of it.” Compl. ¶ 14. While he was employed there, Shah informed plaintiff that she intended to “get him” and that he was the only one she could “get.” Id. at ¶ 15. Other employees have heard Shah make racially inappropriate and derogatory remarks and have made complaints to Defendant Federal Bureau of Prisons management and personnel. Id. at 16 - 17.

Judge Yvette Kane

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.

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