Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.


May 8, 1975


The opinion of the court was delivered by: HERMAN

 This case presents a peculiar set of facts whose origin is the classic lovers' triangle which resulted in the bombing death of one of the principals.

 For several years, Orville Stifel, an Ohio University student, had been involved in a "tempestuous" on again, off again romance with one Cheryl Jones. Late in 1967 Miss Jones signaled the end of her relationship with Stifel by becoming engaged to Daniel Ronec, a graduate student at the University. Ultimately, in July 1968, Daniel Ronec was killed at his Lorain, Ohio, home when a package, delivered through the mails, exploded in his hands.

 Orville Stifel was tried and convicted in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio for violating 18 U.S.C. § 1716. He was sentenced to life in prison. The affirmance of that conviction is reported at 433 F.2d 431 (6th Cir. 1970). The plaintiff is presently an inmate at the United States Penitentiary at Lewisburg, within this district.

 In the instant lawsuit the plaintiff contends that his original defense counsel, William and Robert Hopkins, *fn1" of Cincinnati, conspired to sabotage his trial by turning over to an F.B.I. agent (identified as Clifford Anderson), confidential defense information prior to trial. Stifel claims that William Hopkins' former secretary, Virginia H. Dahl, witnessed the transaction and is prepared to so testify.

 Following discovery of this alleged duplicity, the plaintiff initiated a civil suit against the Hopkins in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. Attorneys Ambrose Lindhorst and James O'Connell represented the Hopkins in the suit which was later voluntarily withdrawn without prejudice. A second action was initiated in the Court of Common Pleas of Cuyahoga County (Cleveland), within the Northern District of Ohio. *fn2" It was during the pendency of the civil suit in the Southern District of Ohio that Stifel alleges Lindhorst and O'Connell joined the Hopkins in the conspiracy which is the subject of this suit.

 The plaintiff contends that Lindhorst and O'Connell conspired with the Hopkins to maliciously fabricate delays and expensive motions to exhaust the plaintiff's funds. More fundamental, however, is Stifel's claim that William Hopkins offered Mrs. Dahl a bribe to remain silent, and when that failed threatened and harassed her for cooperating with Stifel's civil suit. It is unclear what role, if any, Stifel believes Lindhorst and O'Connell played in the alleged bribe and threats.

 The amended complaint *fn3" contends that the defendants entered into a conspiracy in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1985(2). The jurisdictional statute for § 1985 is 28 U.S.C. § 1343. Implicit in the complaint is a claim of jurisdiction based on diversity of citizenship. 28 U.S.C. § 1332. It seems fair to say that the essence of the complaint alleges a conspiracy that began with plaintiff's original criminal trial and continues to date.

 The instant defendants have moved to dismiss the complaint on several grounds. Having concluded that the first reason for dismissal, lack of personal jurisdiction, is well taken, the remaining grounds will not be discussed.

 Rule 4(e), Fed. R. Civ. P. (as amended, 1966) provides for service of process in accord with the state service of process statute where a federal jurisdictional statute is silent. Neither § 1332 nor § 1343 provide for Nationwide service of process. GALLAHER v. CHEMICAL LEAMAN TANK LINES, INC., 367 F. Supp. 1063 (E.D. Tenn. 1973). Pennsylvania's recently enacted long arm statute, 42 P.S. § 8301 , et seq., controls the service or process in the instant case. Based on the plaintiff's brief, it is obvious that he relies largely *fn4" on § 8305 which provides, in part:

"Any nonresident of this Commonwealth who, acting outside of this Commonwealth . . . shall have caused any harm within this Commonwealth on or after August 30, 1970, shall be subject to service of process. . . ."

 The procedure allows for substitute service on the Department of State and by registered mail on the defendant. We note that by far the greatest injury suffered by the plaintiff arose prior to the effective date of the statute. However, he has made claims of conspiratorial conduct following August 30, 1970. *fn5"

 Taking as true all allegations made by the plaintiff in his complaint and subsequent pleadings, the "harm" caused to him "within this Commonwealth" appears to be as follows:

1) Unmeritorious motions filed in Ohio courts which caused the plaintiff, while in Pennsylvania, ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.