court is being called upon to review the state court decision. Feldman, 460 U.S. at 483-84 n. 16. Worldwide Church of God, 805 F.2d at 892. The Feldman jurisdictional bar has been held to apply in the § 1983 context. Worldwide Church of God, 805 F.2d at 893 n.4.
An exercise of jurisdiction in this case clearly would involve an indepth review of Judge Harding's custody orders in this case, both the September 2, 1986 order and the alleged subsequent modification of that order. The constitutional claims involved in this action are inextricably intertwined with the state court action thus prohibiting involvement by the federal courts.
If constitutional error occurred, plaintiffs' appropriate course of action would be to seek a remedy through the Utah appellate procedure and ultimately review by the United States Supreme Court. Anderson v. State of Colorado, 793 F.2d 262, 263 (10th Cir. 1986); Hale v. Harney, 786 F.2d 688, 691 (5th Cir. 1986). Otherwise, any person dissatisfied with a state custody award could seek review in the district court under the guise of a § 1983 violation.
Similarly, abstention can also be justified, and the case dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, based on the domestic relations abstention doctrine recognized in this Circuit. Solomon v. Solomon, 516 F.2d 1018 (3rd Cir. 1975); Magaziner v. Montemuro, 468 F.2d 782 (3d Cir. 1972); Masso v. Masso, 1988 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9169, C.A. No. 88-4029, slip op. (E.D. Pa. August 19, 1988) (Shapiro, J.); Robinson v. Robinson, 523 F. Supp. 96 (E.D. Pa. 1981). The abstention doctrine is premised on the policy that domestic relations is an area of the law in which the state has a strong interest and a well-developed competence for handling the variety of issues and fact situations which arise. Magaziner, 468 F.2d at 787. The United States Supreme Court recently reaffirmed the traditional state dominated role in custody disputes in Thompson v. Thompson, 484 U.S. 174, 98 L. Ed. 2d 512, 524, 108 S. Ct. 513 (1988).
If the court were to assume jurisdiction over this matter, it would inevitably have to determine if it is presently in Marc's "best interest" to return to Pennsylvania because Judge Harding's temporary custody order expired on July 1, 1987. This determination is best left to state courts skilled and experienced in that type of analysis. But c.f., McLaughlin v. Pernsley, 693 F. Supp. 318 (E.D. Pa. 1988) (Hannum, J.).
Under either method of analysis plaintiffs' complaint must be dismissed because the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the action.
B. Failure to State a Claim for Relief.
Plaintiffs have failed to state a claim for relief against the Mormon Church. Plaintiffs' complaint is based upon 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and § 1985(3). To maintain a cause of action against the Morman Church under either of these sections, plaintiffs must prove that a conspiracy existed between Judge Harding and the Mormon Church.
Plaintiffs' complaint contains numerous conclusory allegations that a conspiracy motivated by gender based animus existed between the defendants. The complaint, however, is totally lacking in any form of factual support for these allegations. Broad and conclusory allegations, without some form of factual support, will not state a claim based on a conspiracy pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 or § 1985(3). Negrich v. Hohn, 379 F.2d 213 (3rd Cir. 1967); Esser v. Weller, 467 F.2d 949 (3rd Cir. 1972); Shah v. MetPath, 470 F. Supp. 158 (E.D. Pa. 1979). Therefore, plaintiffs have failed to state a claim for relief against the Mormon Church based on § 1983 or § 1985(3).
C. Lack of Personal Jurisdiction.
Plaintiffs allege personal jurisdiction over Defendant Harding
pursuant to service made in accordance with Rule 4 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 4(e) requires that service of process and personal jurisdiction be determined by the rules or statutes of the state where the district court is situated. The Pennsylvania long-arm statute, 42 Pa. C.S.A. §§ 5322(a)(4) and 5322(b), provides for service of process and personal jurisdiction rules applicable to the courts in the Commonwealth.
In addition to satisfying the requisites of the long-arm statute of the state, the exercise of personal jurisdiction must also be consistant with the due process guarantees of the United States Constitution. Because I have determined that personal jurisdiction over Defendant Harding would violate the due process clause, I will not address the Pennsylvania long-arm statute.
The due process clauses of the fifth and fourteenth amendment operate as limitations on the jurisdiction of courts to enter judgments affecting non-resident defendants. Shaffer v. Heitner, 433 U.S. 186, 198-200, 53 L. Ed. 2d 683, 97 S. Ct. 2569 (1977). The standard for addressing these constitutional limitations were established in International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 90 L. Ed. 95, 66 S. Ct. 154 (1945). The Court held that "traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice" required that the defendant have certain "minimum contacts" with the forum state before it could be subject to the courts jurisdiction. Id. at 316. This requirement rests on two basic premises: First "it protects the defendant against the burdens of litigating in a distant or inconvenient forum. And, [second] it acts to ensure that the state, through their courts, do not reach out beyond the limits imposed on their status as coequal sovereigns in a federal system." World-Wide Volkswagen v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 292, 62 L. Ed. 2d 490, 100 S. Ct. 559 (1980).
The Third Circuit has construed the requirements of due process in personal jurisdiction questions in different ways depending upon the nature of the claim. See Paolino v. Channel Home Centers, 668 F.2d 721, 724 (3d Cir. 1981); Electro-Catheter Corp. v. Surgical Specialties Instrument Co., Inc., 587 F. Supp. 1446, 1449 (D.N.J. 1984).
If a claim is premised on conduct of a defendant within the forum state, a court "must inquire whether the relationship of the transaction at issue to the forum justifies the forum state's assertion of jurisdiction over the defendant" under the "minimum contacts" standard. Id. at 1449. On the other hand, if the claim does not arise out of defendant's activities within the forum state, this court may only exercise personal jurisdiction if defendant's contacts within the forum state are continuous, systematic and substantial. Reliance Steel Products Co. v. Watson, Ess, Marshall & Enggas, 675 F.2d 587, 588 (3d Cir. 1982).
In the instant case, plaintiffs' claims against defendant Harding do not arise out of defendant's activities within the forum state. The only contact defendant Harding had with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is that a Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas Judge called Judge Harding at his office in Provo, Utah, concerning a prospective modification of a custody decree between Plaintiff Fuller and Warner Woodworth.
The effect of the telephone conversation was that Judge Harding assured Judge Anita Brody that he would consider a modification of the existing custody decree due to changed conditions -- namely Warner Woodworth's intention to move with the children to Hawaii.
It is clear to me that the injuries which plaintiffs allege could not have arisen from this single contact with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It is also obvious that defendant Harding, through this contact, has not attempted to purposely avail himself of the privileges and immunities of the Commonwealth. Nor does this single contact amount to "continuous or systematic" activities within Pennsylvania.
Therefore, under the "minimum contacts" test of International Shoe this court may not exercise personal jurisdiction over defendant Harding in this instance.
An appropriate order follows.
AND NOW, this 6th day of September, 1988 upon consideration of defendants' motions to dismiss and plaintiffs' response thereto, it is hereby Ordered that plaintiffs' complaint is dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and lack of personal jurisdiction.
AND IT IS SO ORDERED.