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DAILY v. CITY OF PHILADELPHIA

May 8, 2000

LOUIS DAILY, PLAINTIFF,
V.
CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Anita B. Brody, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM

Now before me are two motions to dismiss. One motion dismiss was filed by defendants City of Philadelphia, Police Commissioner John Timoney, Police Commissioner Richard Neal, Police Officer Brock, Detective Angelucci, Mark Jones, John J. Norris, Chief Inspector John Maxwell, Police Officer McCreery, Sergeant Schwartzl, Police Officer Nardo and Gerry Ross (collectively "City defendants"). The other motion to dismiss was filed by Defendant Lynne Abraham, the District Attorney of Philadelphia County ("District Attorney's Office").*fn1 The City defendants and the District Attorney's Office move to dismiss plaintiff's pro se complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). I will dismiss the amended complaint, sua sponte, because the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction.

I. Background

The following facts are taken from the plaintiff's second amended complaint and presented in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.

Plaintiff alleges that the "Philadelphia Police Department, District Attorney, and the City of Philadelphia have acted in concert to unlawfully arrest me and harass me because of presumptions about the behavior of my gender (male), and to deprive me of my home and contact with my children." Pl.Sec.Am.Comp. at 1. Plaintiff contends that "[e]ven if these persons and entities did not act consciously to deprive me of my rights due to gender, the policies of these persons and entities have this effect. Petitioner believes, however, that these persons and entities agree with each other that males in general present a grave danger to females and that these persons and entities conspire to discriminate on the basis of gender." Id.

Plaintiff asserts that in November 1996 he was evicted from the home he shared with his wife and children (the "marital home") and separated from his children when his wife filed a Protection from Abuse ("PFA") petition. While the PFA restraining order was in effect, plaintiff was arrested twice by the Philadelphia Police. First, on January 6, 1997, he was arrested when he was near the marital home, for the purpose of having police officers serve contempt of custody papers on his wife. Plaintiff called the police when he was two blocks from the marital home and was told to meet the police on a corner near the marital home. When plaintiff reached this corner, he was arrested for contempt of the PFA restraining order. Plaintiff also alleges that after this arrest he was held for 24 hours in "horrid" conditions, "[t]here were no blankets and meals were cheese sandwiches (no condiments) and ice tea." Id. at 2. Plaintiff asserts that he was later found not guilty on this charge.

Second, on April 8, 1997, plaintiff was arrested for simple and indecent assault. Plaintiff states that Judge Pechkurow, of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, ordered that he be allowed in the marital home for a weekend visit with his children. Judge Pechkurow advised plaintiff's wife to vacate the marital home for the weekend. Plaintiff's wife refused to vacate the home for the weekend and after the weekend visit his wife pressed charges against him. Plaintiff contends that he was later found not guilty.*fn2 After this incident plaintiff complained to the police and/ or other government officials that his wife made false and misleading statements leading to his arrest. Plaintiff believes his complaints against his wife were largely ignored. Additionally, two times during the pendency of the restraining order (January 1997 and March 27, 1998) the police removed plaintiff's children from his custody. On both occasions plaintiff made complaints regarding the police officers to the Internal Affairs Division and the officers were later exonerated.

Plaintiff alleges that the PFA act was adopted upon the assumption that men are more dangerous than woman in domestic situations. Plaintiff quotes certain statistics that he suggests support his theory that men are not more dangerous in domestic situations then woman. Plaintiff contends that "[t]his system has resulted in an egregious deterioration of the principles of due process, equal protection and the right to be deemed innocent until proven guilty." Pl.Sec.Am.Comp. at 3. Specifically, plaintiff claims that the City of Philadelphia "violated his rights under the due process and equal protection provisions of the U.S. Constitution, the corresponding sections of the Pennsylvania Constitution, the Civil Rights Act of 1871, and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act." Id. at 3.

Plaintiff requests the following relief: (1) judicial review of the PFA act in terms of its consistency with the U.S. Constitution; (2) a general overhaul of the condition of holding cells in Philadelphia; (3) open court hearings for domestic relations hearings in Philadelphia; (4) judicial review of the procedure for investigating citizens complaints in Philadelphia; (5) judicial review of the procedures of the District Attorney for investigating charges leveled against women by men compared to the procedures for investigating charges leveled against men by women; and (6) an amount appropriate under the circumstances.

II. Discussion

A federal district court has limited subject matter jurisdiction. Lack of subject matter jurisdiction may be raised at any time by the court sua sponte. See Employers Ins. of Wausau v. Crown Cork & Seal Co., Inc., 905 F.2d 42, 45 (3rd Cir. 1990); see also Liakakos v. CIGNA Corp., 704 F. Supp. 583, 584 n. 1 (E.D.Pa. 1988). A proper motion for defendants to file would have been a motion pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1), challenging subject matter jurisdiction. Neither the City defendants nor the District Attorney's Office requests dismissal of this case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1). Rule 12(b)(1), however, will be used as a guide for the court's sua sponte determination of lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

A Rule 12(b)(1) challenge may be either a factual or facial challenge to the complaint. See Mortensen v. First Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n, 549 F.2d 884, 891 (3rd Cir. 1977). In the case of a factual challenge, the court is free to consider and weigh evidence outside the pleadings to resolve factual issues bearing on jurisdiction and to satisfy itself as to the existence of its power to hear the case. See id. Therefore, "no presumptive truthfulness attaches to plaintiff's allegations, and the existence of disputed material facts will not preclude the trial court from evaluating for itself the merits of jurisdictional claims." See id. The plaintiff has the burden of proving that jurisdiction exists. See Mortensen, 549 F.2d at 891.

Under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine a federal district court does not have subject matter jurisdiction over challenges to state court decisions. See Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413, 44 S.Ct. 149, 68 L.Ed. 362 (1923); District of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 103 S.Ct. 1303, 75 L.Ed.2d 206 (1983). A federal claim is an impermissible challenge to a state court decision under the Rooker Feldman doctrine when entertaining the federal claim would be equivalent to an appellate review of the state court order. See FOCUS v. Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, 75 F.3d 834, 840 (3rd Cir. 1996). The Third Circuit explained that "federal district courts lack subject matter jurisdiction to review final adjudications of a state's highest court or to evaluate constitutional claims that are "inextricably intertwined with the state court's [decision] in a judicial proceeding.'" Blake v. Papadakos, 953 F.2d 68, 71 (3rd Cir. 1992) (quoting Feldman, 460 U.S. at 483 n. 16, 103 S.Ct. 1303).*fn3 Additionally, the doctrine applies not only to claims that were actually adjudicated in state court, but also to claims that could have been raised in state court. See Valenti v. Mitchell, 962 F.2d 288, 296 (3rd Cir. 1992) (stating that "[w]e reject . . . [plaintiffs] argument that since they never raised, and the . . . [state court] never considered, their . . . [constitutional] challenges, Rooker-Feldman cannot bar them from pursuing these claims in federal court."). Therefore, any federal action in which the requested relief would reverse or nullify the ruling of a state court decision is barred under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine.*fn4 See FOCUS, 75 F.3d at 840.

On February 19, 1998, the Family Court Division of the Court of Common Pleas for the County of Philadelphia ("Court of Common Pleas") issued a final protection order in Daily v. Daily, stating in part that "defendant, Louis G. Daily, shall refrain from abusing, harassing, and/or threatening the plaintiff Madeline G. Daily or placing her . . . in fear of abuse in any place where she . . . may be found."*fn5 Daily v. Daily, 8351 Jan. Term 1998 (Phila.CCP, Feb. 19, 1998) (Robinson, J.). The Court of Common Pleas also ordered that "defendant is enjoined and prohibited from living at, entering, attempting to enter or visit the residence [of Madeline G. Daily] . . . and the plaintiff [Madeline G. Daily] is granted exclusive possession and control of the premises." Id. The order also provided for additional relief in that defendant (Louis Daily) was to ...


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