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LAL v. NIX

July 25, 1996

AMRIT LAL
v.
HONORABLE ROBERT N.C. NIX JR., et al.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: DITTER

 DITTER, J.

 July 25, 1996

 This case arises out of the defendants' refusal to admit the plaintiff, Amrit Lal, to the Pennsylvania bar. Lal, who is a naturalized United States citizen born in India, alleges in his pro se amended complaint that the defendants, the justices of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and the Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners and its members, executive director, and counsel, denied him admission to the Pennsylvania bar because of his race, national origin, ethnicity, and age. Lal was 60 years old when he applied for admission to the bar.

 Before me is the defendants' motion to dismiss or for summary judgment. I conclude that I do not have subject matter jurisdiction over Lal's claims, and must dismiss the amended complaint with prejudice. I dismiss with prejudice because amending the complaint would be futile.

 I. FACTS

 Because I dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, I have taken as true all of the allegations in Lal's complaint and drawn all reasonable inferences in his favor. I have also considered the transcript of Lal's hearing before the board and the state supreme court docket sheet showing the court's order denying his admission. Cf. Oshiver v. Levin, Fishbein, Sedran & Berman, 38 F.3d 1380, 1384 n.5 (3d Cir. 1994) (court may consider public records when deciding motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)). The parties extensively refer to each document in papers filed in this matter and do not dispute their accuracy or authenticity.

 Lal applied for and took the July, 1992, Pennsylvania bar examination. Following his completion of the examination, the board learned that he had been convicted, fined, and jailed for several housing code violations relating to his ownership of an apartment complex in Chester County, Pennsylvania, and that he had failed to pay many of those fines. Based on that information, the board notified Lal that he did not appear to meet the Pennsylvania Bar Admission Rules' requirement that an applicant demonstrate an absence of prior conduct inconsistent with that expected of members of the bar. See Pa. B.A.R. 203(a)(3). Lal requested a hearing, which the board held in January, 1993. At the hearing, Lal did not deny that he had been convicted, fined, and jailed, and that many of the fines were outstanding, but instead testified that those prosecutions were instituted by racist municipal officials.

 Following the hearing, the board refused Lal's application. Pursuant to Pennsylvania Bar Admission Rule 222, Lal sought review of this refusal in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and in July, 1993, filed a brief arguing his position. In a per curiam order dated October 28, 1993, the supreme court affirmed the board's decision. Lal did not seek review of the state court's decision in the United States Supreme Court.

 In a previous opinion and order dated November 13, 1995, I dismissed the bulk of Lal's original complaint on Rooker-Feldman grounds, because it requested that I review the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's and board's decisions refusing his admission to the bar. See Dist. of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 476, 75 L. Ed. 2d 206, 103 S. Ct. 1303 (1983); Rooker v. Fidelity Trust, 263 U.S. 413, 415-16, 68 L. Ed. 362, 44 S. Ct. 149 (1923). *fn1" In addition to Lal's request for review of the state supreme court's and board's decisions, the original complaint contained two references to "disparate treatment and racial discrimination." I granted Lal leave to amend his complaint so as to state more fully his apparent claim of "disparate treatment and racial discrimination."

 On June 10, 1996, I ordered Lal to respond to the defendants' motions by June 20, 1996. The defendants had filed their motion in December, 1995, giving Lal almost six months to respond. Lal filed a response on June 20, 1996. Despite having more than sufficient time to respond, on June 28, 1996 -- eight days after the deadline set in my order -- Lal filed a supplemental memorandum in response to the defendants' motions. For completeness' sake, I have not dismissed the memorandum as untimely and will consider the arguments raised in it.

 II. THE AMENDED COMPLAINT

 Lal filed an amended complaint which contained two counts. The first, numbered "count 20," was filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and alleged that the defendants refused his admission to the bar because of his race, national origin, or ethnicity in violation of his federal constitutional rights to due process and equal protection. (See Amend. Comp. P 20). The other, numbered "count 21," alleged that Lal was denied admission based on his age in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. § 621, et. seq., ("ADEA"), and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, 43 Pa. C.S. § 951, et. seq. ("PHRA") (Amend. Comp. P 28).

 Lal bases his race, national origin, and ethnicity claim on the following averments. In July, 1992, according to Lal, Defendants Patrick Tassos, the board's executive director, and Rebecca Sturchio, Esquire, the board's counsel, asked him "to go back to India" if he wished to practice law and attempted to discourage him from becoming a member of the Pennsylvania bar. (Amend. Comp. P 5). Shortly thereafter, Lal alleges Sturchio required him to submit a certified copy of his Indian law degree, proof of his United States citizenship, and a copy of an Indian statute prohibiting American citizens from practicing law there. (Amend. Comp. PP 4, 7). When Lal complied with all of these requirements, he claims the defendants then subjected him to "secret," "unwritten," "vague," and "unconstitutional" good character standards. In applying those standards, he contends the board relied on "hearsay" allegations of his arrests, fines, and convictions, failed to provide him written notice of the board's good character requirements at ...


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