The opinion of the court was delivered by: Yohn, J.
The plaintiffs, Ronald L. Natale, Janet L. Natale, Augustine L.
Natale, and Kathleen Natale [collectively "plaintiffs"], brought this
suit against defendants Lester W. Schwartz, Eleanor Morris, and French
and Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust, Inc., its board members,
directors, officers, successors, and assigns [collectively
"defendants"], claiming the defendants violated their civil rights under
42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 1985, and asserting a number of state law
claims. Pending before the court is the defendants' motion for summary
judgment. Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J. (Doc. No. 82). After considering
defendants' motion, plaintiffs' response in opposition, Pls.' Resp. to
Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J. (Doc. No. 83), defendants' reply, Defs.' Reply
to Pls.' Opp'n to Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J. (Doc. No. 86), and other
evidence submitted by the parties, I conclude that the defendants are
entitled to summary judgment.
Plaintiffs are the record owners of a tract of land located in East
Vincent Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania. See First Am. Compl.
¶ 10. On April 5, 1989, plaintiffs acquired title in the tract of
land subject to a conservation easement or restrictive covenant. See id.
¶¶ 10 & 93.*fn1 On November 9, 1989, the Building Inspector of East
Vincent Township issued the plaintiffs a permit to build a house on the
property. See Second Am. Compl. ¶ 5; Pet. for Review of the Issuance
of and for a Stay Restraining Any Use of a Demolition Permit Ex. B (Doc.
82, Ex. M2). After plaintiffs obtained the permit, defendants instituted
a lawsuit in state court to prevent the plaintiffs from building the
farmhouse. See First Am. Compl. ¶ 116. During the pendency of the
state court litigation, the plaintiffs built a 4900 square foot house.
See Order of Sup. Ct. of Pa., Oct. 1993 (Doc. No. 82, Ex. C).
Ultimately, the state court litigation resulted in court orders requiring
the plaintiffs to vacate their house and remove it from the property,
or, should the plaintiffs refuse to remove it, authorizing the defendants
to do so. See Order of Judge Sanchez, Chester County Ct. C.P., Oct. 22,
1998 (Doc. No. 82, Ex. H); Order of Judge Sanchez, Chester County Ct.
C.P., Sept. 17, 1998 (Doc. No. 82, Ex. G); Order of Judge Sugerman,
Chester County Ct. C.P., July 17, 1997 (Doc. No. 82, Ex. E).
On November 23, 1998, crews from PECO Energy disconnected electrical
service to the property. See First Am. Compl. ¶ 19. A demolition
contractor then entered plaintiffs' land and demolished plaintiffs'
house, its contents, and their well. See id. ¶¶ 19 & 100.
On June 26, 1998, plaintiffs filed a pro se complaint raising a wide
variety of claims against various defendants. See Compl. (Doc. No. 1).
After retaining an attorney, plaintiffs filed a wide-ranging and
confusing amended complaint containing a total of seventy-four counts
against the current defendants. See First Am. Compl. (Doc. No. 46).
Before considering the defendants' motion to dismiss the amended
complaint, the court held oral argument for the purpose of clarifying the
claims the plaintiffs were pursuing. See Natale et al. v. Schwartz et
al., No. CIV. A. 98-3298, 1999 WL 1134535, at *3 (E.D.Pa. Dec. 10,
1999). On June 18, 1999, the court entered an order construing the
amended complaint in the manner set forth by plaintiffs' counsel at oral
argument so that the parties would have a structure on which to base
their motions and discovery. See Order of June 18, 1999 (Doc. No. 55). In
this order, the court dismissed Counts II and XV-LXXIV (15-74) as
duplicative and unnecessary. See id. As a result, only thirteen counts
remained, eight of which were state law claims. See id.
On December 10, 1999, the court granted in part and denied in part the
defendants' motion to dismiss the amended complaint. See Natale et al.,
1999 WL 1134535. The court dismissed with prejudice Counts V.A, V.C, VI,
and VII. See id. at *11. Although, the court also dismissed Counts III,
IV, and V.B, it did so without prejudice and granted the plaintiffs leave
to amend those counts. See id. The court declined to examine Counts I and
VIII-XIV, the plaintiffs' state law claims, because the survival of the
plaintiffs' federal causes of action was uncertain. See id. at *2.
Count III is a § 1983 claim based on a violation of the due process
clause of the Fifth Amendment because the demolition permit was procured
and the home was demolished without adequate notice and opportunity to be
heard; Count IV is a § 1983 claim based on a violation of the due
process clause of the Fifth Amendment because of the loss of their
personal property, the loss of their well, and the loss of their wheat;
and Count V.B is a § 1985(3) conspiracy claim based on violations of
the Fifth Amendment due process clause because of the taking of their
electricity and the enforcing of the demolition order. See Order of June
18, 1999 (Doc. No. 55).
On April 4, 2000, the plaintiffs filed a second amended complaint
amending Counts III, IV, and V.B. See Second Am. Compl. (Doc. No. 70).*fn2
On April 28, 2000, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss the
plaintiffs' second amended complaint on the sole ground that the
defendants were not state actors. See Mot. to Dismiss Second Am. Compl.
(Doc. No. 71). As the court noted after considering the defendants'
motion, the defendants failed to raise several other potential
deficiencies in the plaintiffs' three remaining federal claims. See Order
of July 13, 2000 (Doc. No. 73). As a result, after the court concluded
that the plaintiffs' allegations, if proved, were sufficient to establish
that the defendants were state actors, the court refused the defendants'
motion to dismiss the second amended complaint. See id.
Currently pending before the court is the defendants' motion for
summary judgment. The defendants argue that there is no genuine issue of
material fact and that they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law
on the plaintiffs' § 1983 and § 1985(3) claims. After setting
forth the standard of review, I will evaluate the defendants' motion.
STANDARD OF REVIEW Either party to a lawsuit may file a
motion for summary judgment, and it will be granted "if
the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories,
and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if
any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any
material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a
judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The
moving party bears the initial burden of showing that
there is no genuine issue of material fact. See Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Where the
movant bears the burden of persuasion at trial, the
movant satisfies this initial burden by "identifying
[the evidence] which it believes demonstrate[s] the
absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Id. at
323. Where the nonmovant bears the burden of persuasion
at trial, the moving party may meet its initial burden
and shift the burden of production to the nonmoving
party "by `showing' — that is, pointing out to the
district court — that there is an absence of
evidence to support the nonmoving ...