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TOSTA v. HOOKS

August 2, 1983

Mike TOSTA and J. Gilbert Golson-El and Philadelphia City Monitor
v.
Benjamin HOOKS, et al.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: WEINER

 WEINER, District Judge.

 Plaintiffs filed a pro se "constitutional complaint" consisting of 38 pages plus attached exhibits, alleging that numerous defendants, and various governmental and private officials acted individually and in combination to deprive plaintiffs of their civil rights. *fn1" Together with this complaint plaintiffs have filed a motion to proceed in forma pauperis. For the reasons which follow, plaintiffs' motion to proceed in forma pauperis is granted and the complaint is dismissed.

 COMPLAINT

 Plaintiffs bring this action under the First, Fifth, Eighth, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d. Two of the plaintiffs are adult individuals residing in Philadelphia and the third plaintiff is the Philadelphia City Monitor, a "newspaper" run by the individual plaintiffs. Plaintiffs' allegations are neither consistently clear nor cohesive but we will attempt to set them out in the following discussion as logically as a careful reading has enabled us to do.

 Count I is on behalf of individual plaintiff J. Gilbert Golson-El. It appears that plaintiff alleges a chain of events has occurred to his detriment; the events began when plaintiff was denied his application for a minority business loan. *fn2" As a result of not receiving the loan, Mr. Golson-El asserts that he lost his rental properties through foreclosure which resulted in his bankruptcy. Plaintiff became eligible for welfare, was characterized as "transitionally needy" under the Public Welfare Code, *fn3" and as the plaintiff states, was unable to find a job. Plaintiff asserts that no jobs were made available to him because profits received by the state from a lottery game, "Lotto", were mismanaged and not properly applied to the development of a jobs program. Plaintiff also states that he has been sued in state Family Court for non-payment of child support as a result of his not receiving welfare payments or having employment.

 Plaintiff requests that an injunction be issued against the Family Court before which he was brought for nonpayment of child support. Plaintiff also requests relief "by judgment and order" and an award of damages generally against no named defendants based on their "unconstitutional discriminatory practices and citizenship violations." (para. 36, Complaint, p. 14). In the alternative, plaintiff requests a declaratory judgment that the "Pennsylvania Lotto Games" are "discriminatory" and "unconstitutional on the basis of age and finances" and that the Pennsylvania welfare system is also "discriminating and unconstitutional on the basis of age and race." (para. 36, Complaint, pp. 14-15).

 Also under Count I of his complaint, plaintiff Golson-El requests reparation damages for racial discrimination practiced by all defendants except one, Par, Inc. Plaintiff requests these damages be awarded him as a "proclaimed Moorish-American" involuntarily made a citizen of the United States by Congressional legislation in 1862. Plaintiff contends that his voluntary citizenship deprived him of property rights of a preferred national identity and culture. (para. 3, Complaint, p. 13). Plaintiff also asserts that his involuntary citizenship prevented his being able to leave the United States in violation of the Emancipation Proclamation, the 13th and 14th Amendments and the 1964 Civil Rights Act. (para. 30, Complaint, pp. 12-13). Plaintiff contends he is being deprived of equal protection of the law when compared to reparation to be made to Japanese-Americans.

 Count II of the complaint relates to events undergone by the co-plaintiff, Michael Tosta. Plaintiff claims that he was subjected to discriminatory practices in his employment which "expidited" [sic] his "loss of earnings and employment". (para. 3, Complaint, p. 16). Plaintiff claims that the Pennsylvania Lotto Game program was mismanaged resulting in the profits not being available to subsidize a public jobs program presumably from which plaintiff Tosta might have benefited. Count II includes a claim for reparation for involuntary citizenship similar to the claim made by plaintiff Golson-El in Count I. Plaintiff requests damages against unspecified defendants "for unconstitutional discriminatory practices and citizenship violations." As in Count I, plaintiff seeks a declaratory judgment that the Pennsylvania Lotto games and welfare system discriminate on the basis of age.

 Count III, on behalf of both individual plaintiffs, is a claim that Philadelphia City Council infringed the freedom of the press of the Philadelphia City Monitor, the "newspaper" run by the plaintiffs. The complaint charges that City Council did not permit plaintiffs to testify extensively in Council meetings which prevented them from inquiring into the cause of a budget deficit. Plaintiffs challenge the practices of City Council: plaintiffs complain that City Council is "disorganized" and the members not qualified (para. 3, Complaint, p. 25). Plaintiffs complain about monetary authorizations by Council including a pay raise approved for Council members (para. 6, Complaint, pp. 25-26). Plaintiffs seek an injunction to prevent City Council's operating without public participation which plaintiffs contend amounts to taxation without representation (para. 10, Complaint, p. 27). Plaintiffs also request an order directing City Council to approve a question to be placed on the November election ballot.

 As part of Count III, plaintiffs assert a claim against the Philadelphia Daily News complaining about the newspaper's alleged failure to report some items of interest to the plaintiffs. Plaintiffs charge the Daily News with discrimination which, by creating apathy among its readers, allegedly damaged plaintiffs' "newspaper." There is no necessity to further elaborate plaintiffs' claims against the Daily News on behalf of the "newspaper" since absent a showing of state involvement, plaintiff has no cause of action against the newspaper under § 1983, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the 14th Amendment. Also, plaintiffs' allegations of discrimination are insufficient to state a cause of action under § 1985 since the claims are unsupported by any specific facts and fail to demonstrate a denial of equal protection. See, Robinson v. McCorkle, 462 F.2d 111 (3d Cir.1972).

 DISCUSSION

 Initially we will dismiss the complaint as to all the defendants listed in the caption against whom the plaintiffs have not asserted any claim or alleged any personal involvement by them in the body of their complaint. See, Weiner v. Bank of King of Prussia, 358 F. Supp. 684 (E.D.Pa.1973). We recognize that pro se complaints are to be held to less stringent standards than pleadings drafted by lawyers. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 92 S. Ct. 594, 30 L. Ed. 2d 652 (1972). However, absent any allegations of specific conduct by the defendants listed in the caption of the complaint, a "terse reference to a 'conspiracy' adds ...


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