The opinion of the court was delivered by: RICHARD CONABOY, Senior District Judge
Before the Court is Corporal Joseph Sarkis' "(Defendant")
Motion for Summary Judgment, (Doc. 46), against Robert Hughes
("Plaintiff"). In his Amended Complaint, (Doc. 8), Plaintiff
seeks relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Plaintiff alleges that Defendant violated his First and
Fourteenth Amendment rights under the United States Constitution.
The Complaint was initially filed by Plaintiff in Pennsylvania
state court and was removed by the original Defendants to Federal
After the case was removed to Federal Court by Defendants,
Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint alleging the same
violations. (Doc. 8). On September 8, 2004, this Court granted Defendants' Motion to Dismiss the First Amended Complaint based
on Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (Doc. 23). In
dismissing Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint, this Court held
that the dismissal of the Plaintiff's first Complaint,
(previously filed in the federal Court in Hughes I), precluded
Plaintiff from filing the same action in the state court.
Plaintiff moved for Reconsideration on September 21, 2004.
(Doc. 35). The Court held oral argument on Wednesday, January 12,
2005. On January 28, 2005, this Court granted Plaintiff's Motion
for Reconsideration. (Doc. 34). On September 16, 2005, Defendant
filed this Motion for Summary Judgement. (Doc. 46).
The motion has been fully briefed and is now ripe for
disposition. Based on the discussion below, Defendant's Motion
for Summary Judgment is GRANTED.
I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND*fn2
In 1998, Plaintiff complained at an Old Forge Borough Council
public meeting about unlawful activities conducted by certain
officials. Specifically, he argued that Old Forge was running
unlicensed, unregistered vehicles as officially marked police
cruisers. (Doc. 7, at ¶ 11).
In May 1998, Plaintiff obtained copies of records from the
Pennsylvania Department of Transportation that he said confirmed Old Forge was running unlicenced, unregistered vehicles as
officially marked police cruisers. These documents were brought
to the attention of the Old Forge Borough Council at a public
meeting. Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff was arrested and charged
with five (5) counts of violating 18 Pa.C.S. § 4911(a)(1) for
tampering with public records or information. The charges were
subsequently dropped by the District Attorney. (Id. at ¶¶
In June of 1998, Hughes was a candidate for the Old Forge
Borough Council. He campaigned to "clean up Old Forge from the
prevalent nude bars, escort and massage establishments that were
preying on the community." (Id. at ¶ 16). He spoke out against
these clubs and complained that some were not zoned properly.
(Id. at ¶¶ 17-19). As a result, Old Forge shut down one of the
clubs. (Id. at ¶ 17).
Soon thereafter, Plaintiff was charged with the rape of Tara
Blumenfeld ("Blumenfeld"), a "nude dancer and pornographic
model." Hughes asserts that Avvisato and Defendant maliciously
and vindictively conspired to fabricate these charges which were
eventually dismissed. (Id. at ¶¶ 20-22). Plaintiff argues that
"Defendants knew or should have known there was no probable cause
to bring any of the charges against Hughes," nevertheless, they
brought these charges in retaliation against Hughes for
exercising his First Amendment rights. (Id. at ¶¶ 23-24).
Additionally, Plaintiff alleges that Avvisato and Defendant conspired with Detective Joseph Jordan and Assistant District
Attorney Eugene Talerico of the Lackawanna County District
Attorney's Office to conduct illegal wire taps of conversations
between Plaintiff and certain confidential informants. (Id. at
¶ 25). According to Plaintiff, this amounted to a violation of
Pennsylvania law, a violation of Hughes's First and
Fourth Amendment rights, and subjected Hughes to vindictive prosecution.
Also, Plaintiff asserts that Avvisato and Defendant conspired
with Wendy Maopolski, a Scranton Tribune reporter, in an effort
to slander and defame Hughes through published articles for the
purpose of interfering with his campaign for public office.
(Id. at ¶ 26).
II. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
On April 26, 2004, Plaintiff filed a § 1983 claim in the Court
of Common Pleas for Lackawanna County. The original Defendants
removed the action to this Court.*fn3
On June 18, and again on June 30, 2004, the original Defendants
sought to dismiss the Complaint on preclusion grounds based on
our decision in Hughes I.*fn4 (Docs. 3 & 6). On July 7, 2004, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint. (Doc. 8). On
September 8, 2004, this Court denied the Rule 19 Motion ...