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ADAMS v. ABA

August 25, 1975

David B. ADAMS et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION et al., Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: GERRY

 This lawsuit is but one of a handful of civil actions initiated by plaintiffs in various courts to protest practices and policies of the government, the judiciary and professional organizations. Plaintiffs are members of an organization known as the American Constitutional Rights Protective Association. Named as defendants are virtually the entire Pennsylvania and federal judiciary, including certain spouses, judges of the United States Tax Court and Court of Claims, the American Bar Association and various state and local bar associations, two United States Attorneys and several Assistant United States Attorneys, various government lawyers from the Department of Justice, lawyers and agents of the Internal Revenue Service, certain senators, Cabinet Officers and the President of the United States.

 Jurisdiction is asserted generally under the Constitution and laws of the United States and specifically under the Declaration of Independence, the Declaration of Resolves of the First Continental Congress of 1774, the Articles of Confederation, the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, various treaties concerning the acquisition of the territories of the United States, the Magna Carta, the Common Law of Nuisance, the Sherman Antitrust Act and the Bill of Rights. With the exception of the Sherman Antitrust Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1, 2, and the First Amendment, all of the jurisdictional grounds cited by plaintiffs are frivolous.

 The complaint, a rambling 45 page document, can be divided into two sections. The first section, paragraphs 1-28, is essentially a dissertation on a variety of subjects of interest to the plaintiffs, such as the monetary system (paragraph 23); the Tax Court (paragraphs 11-14); bar associations (paragraphs 17-20); legal fees (paragraph 20 a-g); the Vietnam War (paragraph 20kk); disciplinary and professional codes (paragraph 20h-j); trial by jury (paragraph 20-o); the tax laws (paragraph 20-r); and gun control (paragraph 22-e). The second section, paragraphs 29-77, is a chronicle of plaintiffs' individual entanglements with the courts and law enforcement agents over their refusal to comply with the tax laws.

 In their prayer for relief, plaintiffs seek $200 million, payable in gold and silver coins, an order declaring the United States Tax Court unconstitutional and an injunction to restrain the defendants from violating the antitrust laws, the Constitution and other laws.

 This matter came on for a hearing before this Court, sitting by designation in Pittsburgh, on motions of the various defendants. The Court reserved decision on all motions.

 I. Motions of defendants to dismiss for insufficiency of service of process.

 All of the defendants move to dismiss for insufficiency of service of process. F.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(5). It appears that only two or three Pennsylvania defendants were served personally and that the remaining defendants were served by certified mail. Service by mail is not in keeping with the personal service requirements of F.R.C.P. 4(d) and is ineffective unless permitted by a federal or Pennsylvania statute or rule.

 Plaintiffs contend that Pennsylvania Rule 1504(b)(2)(b) allows service by certified mail. That rule, however, only permits service by certified mail on out of state residents when a principal defendant in an equitable action has been personally served. Potteiger v. Fidelity Philadelphia Trust Co., 424 Pa. 418, 424, 227 A.2d 864 (1967). It is readily apparent that there is no principal defendant in this case, and therefore plaintiffs cannot avail themselves of that rule.

 A party making service has the burden of establishing its validity when a challenge to effectiveness of service is made. 5 Wright & Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1352 at 582. Plaintiffs have failed to meet this requirement. Accordingly, defendants' motions to dismiss for insufficiency of service of process are granted as to all defendants who were not personally served.

 II. Motions of defendants to dismiss for failure to state a claim.

 In order for plaintiffs to succeed on their antitrust count, they must show a conspiracy, a restraint of trade, interstate effect and damage. The complaint "'must describe with definiteness and certainty the combination or conspiracy relied on, as well as the acts done which resulted in damage to plaintiff, and, in doing so, must set forth the substance of the agreement in restraint of trade, or the plan or scheme of the conspiracy, or the facts constituting the attempt to monopolize.'" Hohensee v. Goon Squad, 171 F. Supp. 562 (M.D.Pa.1959).

 Plaintiffs allege a mass conspiracy, but they fail to set forth supporting facts to define the conspiracy or demonstrate how any of the defendants participated in the alleged conspiracy. Plaintiffs cite the enforcement of attorney licensing statutes as one of the overt acts committed by defendants in furtherance of the conspiracy. Yet, plaintiffs did not bring suit merely against the members of the State Board of Law Examiners who administer the licensing program in Pennsylvania but indiscriminately sued all Pennsylvania judges. The indiscriminate naming of defendants in this suit suggests that plaintiffs are unable to show how any of the defendants participated in the alleged conspiracy beyond their mere status as judges and government agents.

 This Court is aware of the difficulties faced by a plaintiff who is trying to prove the existence of a conspiracy. However, the federal courts do require that plaintiff specify with at least some degree of particularity the overt acts which defendants allegedly engaged in. A bare-bones statement of conspiracy under the antitrust laws without any supporting facts permits dismissal. Heart Disease Research Foundation v. General Motors Corp., 463 F.2d 98 (2d Cir. 1972). "On its face, the conspiracy alleged is incredulous." Drusky v. Judges of Supreme Court, 324 F. Supp. 332 (W.D.Pa.1971).

 Plaintiffs also fail to show the existence of a restraint of trade. The antitrust laws were designed to prevent restraints to free competition in business and commercial transactions which restrict production, raise prices or otherwise control the market to the detriment of purchasers or consumers of goods and services. Apex Hosiery v. Leader, 310 U.S. 469, 60 S. Ct. 982, 84 L. Ed. 1311 (1940). The antitrust laws are economic in their purpose and effect and clearly do not reach conduct which the plaintiffs perceive as a monopoly of "free trade in ideas." ...


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