Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
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.

BEHR v. SNIDER

August 3, 1995

LOUIS H. BEHR, ET AL.
v.
KAREN SNIDER, ET AL.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: RAYMOND J. BRODERICK

 BRODERICK, J.

 August 3, 1995

 This is an action brought by Plaintiff Louis Harry Behr ("Behr") on his own behalf and allegedly on behalf of his minor natural children Matthew, Daniel, Joshua, and Zachary pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and other federal and state statutes. Behr, who is proceeding pro se, has sued two state court judges, numerous state and county officials, medical personnel, and others based on each defendant's alleged involvement in state investigations of child abuse of the Behr children, in child custody hearings in state court, and in other related state court judicial proceedings. Behr has also sued his ex-wife, who has custody of the Behr children, and the children's stepfather. Behr alleges that the actions and inactions of the defendants violated the rights of Behr and his children under the United States Constitution, the Pennsylvania Constitution, and various federal and state statutes.

 Pending before the Court are motions by Behr for a preliminary injunction, a writ of habeas corpus, and an "emergency restraining order." Defendants have filed various motions to dismiss Behr's complaint, and there are several other disputes between the parties arising out of motions for default judgment and preliminary discovery. For reasons set forth below, Defendants' motions to dismiss the complaint will be granted on the ground that the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction.

 I. Background

 Behr filed his complaint in this action in November, 1994, and was granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. Behr's complaint is 114 pages long and contains 394 individual paragraphs, with the factual allegations alone consuming fifty pages. The relevant factual allegations by Behr will be briefly summarized as follows.

 In his complaint, Behr alleges that his wife, defendant Patricia Franklin, attempted to poison him in early 1987. Behr alleges that Patricia Franklin subsequently had an affair with defendant Courtney Franklin, and that both Patricia and Courtney Franklin began to abuse the Behr children in mid-1987. Behr and his wife separated in late 1987, and it appears from the complaint that the children then began to live with Behr's wife in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, and that Courtney Franklin was usually in residence.

 In the latter part of 1988, Behr alleges that as a result of information and statements of the children which were reported to him, he contacted the Office of Children and Youth ("OCY") in Montgomery County to report that his children were being neglected and physically abused by Courtney and Patricia Franklin. This office has responsibility for investigating reports of child abuse, and may initiate appropriate court proceedings. See 23 Pa.C.S.A. 6361 et seq. Behr alleges that he was subsequently instructed by a Montgomery County social worker to keep the Behr children until investigations were completed, but that this social worker and other staff of the Montgomery OCY failed to take appropriate action on Behr's reports. Behr, who is a resident of the state of Delaware, alleges that a family court judge in the state of Delaware then ordered him to return the children to Patricia Franklin.

 Behr alleges that he filed an emergency petition for special relief and change of custody after Montgomery County OCY staff failed to take action upon receiving other detailed reports from physicians, Behr, Behr's parents, and others about sexual abuse, physical abuse, and neglect of the Behr children. Behr alleges that his petition was denied by Judge Gerald Corso of the Court of Common Pleas, Montgomery County, and that the children were to be returned to Patricia Franklin and that Courtney Franklin was to have "no contact" with the children. Behr alleges that after this ruling, Montgomery County OCY staff continued to disregard evidence of abuse and that both Montgomery County OCY staff and Patricia Franklin violated portions of the order without any consequences. Behr also alleges that various Montgomery County OCY reports on the alleged abuse are filled with unspecified false statements and fabrications, and that his children on at least one occasion refused to return to Patricia Franklin after a visit with Behr.

 Behr alleges that after further abuse of the children and Montgomery County OCY staff discounting both evidence of abuse and expert opinion that abuse was occurring, he filed an emergency petition for change of custody in Montgomery County. Behr then hid the children on July 22, 1989 and refused to return them to their mother. The Honorable Judge William Nicholas, President Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, Montgomery County, ordered Behr to return the children and Behr sought an emergency stay in Pennsylvania Superior Court. Behr alleges that Superior Court denied his petition and ordered the children to be returned to their mother, but also ordered that Courtney Franklin should stay away from the children.

 While the children were in hiding, Behr alleges that he received additional evidence that the children had been abused and that the Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Karen DeGenaro and Montgomery County OCY staff promised him that there would be a full investigation. Behr alleges that on October 16, 1989, he turned the children over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Georgia after Judge Nicholas, DeGenaro, and Montgomery County OCY staff agreed to an arrangement with a Georgia judge and Georgia state officials in which the children would be placed in protective custody in Pennsylvania and the charges investigated. Behr alleges that this agreement was violated when the children were returned to Pennsylvania, and that the children were placed into foster care and "interrogated." As a result of this improper "interrogation," Behr alleges that the children recanted their allegations of abuse.

 Behr alleges that during late 1989 and 1990, Judge Nicholas held various hearings and issued orders which were procedurally and substantively flawed, including a denial of Behr's emergency petition for relief, an order directing that the Behr children live with Patricia and Courtney Franklin, and orders denying visitation rights to Behr and members of his family. Behr alleges that Judge Nicholas ignored evidence, received improper ex parte communications from Montgomery County OCY staff, appointed a biased guardian at litem for the children, prevented Behr from presenting relevant evidence and unfairly delayed hearings, manipulated the children's testimony, failed to recuse himself, and relied on reports submitted by Montgomery County OCY staff which were faulty and did not incorporate interviews with the children or those professionals who had reported abuse. Behr also alleges that a psychological evaluation found that he has no mental illness, that he was the only one of the parties to submit and pass a lie detector test suggested by the guardian ad litem, and that a jury found him not guilty of interfering with custody orders. Behr further alleges that a police officer told him that the officer was investigating Courtney Franklin for child abuse, but that the district attorney subsequently refused to prosecute.

 In August 1990, the Franklins and the Behr children relocated to Philadelphia County, and Behr alleges that he filed a petition for custody there in February 1991 and a subsequent emergency modification petition. Behr alleges that Judge Allan Tereshko of the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas, Family Division, heard his petition and issued orders regarding visitation rights and other matters over the next several years which were also procedurally and substantively flawed. Behr alleges that Judge Tereshko ignored evidence and was improperly influenced by Montgomery County OCY staff and Judge Nicholas. Behr further alleges that Judge Tereshko first failed to rule on his petition, and then held hearings without proper notice and ...


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.