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Muhammad v. Weis

August 17, 2009

AKHI RAHEEM MUHAMMAD
v.
GREGORY T. WEIS, ET AL.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John R. Padova, J.

MEMORANDUM

Pro se Plaintiff Akhi Raheem Muhammad*fn1 brings this action in forma pauperis against more than 200 defendants, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985, as well as the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA"), alleging violations of his constitutional rights as well as rights afforded to him under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12132, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 ("RA"), 29 U.S.C. § 794(a). Plaintiff seeks compensatory, injunctive, and declaratory relief. Currently before the Court is Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint (Docket No. 67). For the following reasons, all claims except Plaintiff's ADA and RA claims against the Pennsylvania Department of Insurance are either dismissed, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) and 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a), or transferred to the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, pursuant 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a).

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff describes himself as "an adult African American Male, who[] is a practicing Muslim" and who "suffers from the disease, diabetes and its many complications." (2nd Am. Compl. ¶¶ 12, 13.) On July 30, 2008, Plaintiff filed a pro se Complaint against 111 defendants, all in their official capacities, along with a motion to proceed in forma pauperis. In an Order dated August 11, 2008, we dismissed Plaintiff's Complaint with leave to amend because the Complaint "did not contain sufficient information," and we directed Plaintiff to "fully describe [in his Amended Complaint] how each of the individual defendants is involved in his claims."

Plaintiff subsequently filed an Amended Complaint, which suffered from many of the same inadequacies as the original and which added claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, and the First, Seventh, Ninth, and Tenth Amendments. In a March 10, 2009 Order-Memorandum, we dismissed Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1406(a) and 1915(e)(2)(B), again with leave to amend, citing our concern that the Eastern District of Pennsylvania was not the proper venue for Plaintiff's claims and highlighting several significant pleading deficiencies. See Muhammad v. Weis, Civ. A. No. 08-3616, 2009 WL 637112, at *1-2 (E.D. Pa. Mar. 11, 2009).

Plaintiff filed his Second Amended Complaint on June 12, 2009. Although the Second Amended Complaint fills in many of the factual gaps in Plaintiff's previous complaints, it spans nearly 70 pages (more than triple the length of the First Amended Complaint), names more than 200 defendants,*fn2 asserts more than a half-dozen new causes of action, and describes events wholly unrelated to those alleged in previous complaints. From our reading, we discern at least seven, discrete series of transactions that form the basis of Plaintiff's myriad claims, including: (1) a 2004 automobile accident in Pittsburgh and related litigation in Allegheny County from 2004 to 2007 (see 2nd Am. Compl. ¶¶ 111-85); (2) the issuance of two traffic citations in Millvale, Pennsylvania in 2005, and related litigation in Allegheny County from 2005 to 2007 (id. ¶¶ 37-84); (3) a legal malpractice lawsuit initiated in Allegheny County in July 2005, and related litigation there from 2005 to 2007 (id. ¶¶ 203-220); (4) a second legal malpractice lawsuit initiated in Allegheny County in September 2005 and related litigation there from 2005 to 2008 (id. ¶¶ 190-202); (5) the revocation of Plaintiff's car insurance and related litigation from 2007 to 2008 (id. ¶¶ 86-105); (6) the forced removal of Plaintiff's kufi, a religious head covering, at legal proceedings in the courtrooms of various Allegheny County judges, named as Defendants, between 2004 and 2008 (id. ¶¶ 358-64); and (7) a 2009 lawsuit against Allegheny County Adult Probation and Parole over some money Plaintiff paid them to secure the release of his incarcerated nephew. (Id. ¶¶ 221-48.)

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Because Plaintiff brings this action in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, we may dismiss suasponte any claims that we determine (1) are "frivolous or malicious," (2) "fail[] to state a claim on which relief may be granted," or (3) "seek[] monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(iii). A claim is frivolous if it is "based on an indisputably meritless legal theory" or its "factual contentions are clearly baseless." Roman v. Jeffes, 904 F.2d 192, 194 (3d Cir. 1990) (citing Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327-28 (1989)). We review the sufficiency of the pleadings under § 1915(e)(2)(B) using the same standard applicable to a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).*fn3 See Tourscher v. McCullough, 184 F.3d 236, 240 (3d Cir. 1999). We need not grant a plaintiff leave to amend frivolous claims. See Grayson v. Mayview State Hosp., 293 F.3d 103, 112-13 (3d Cir. 2002).

Where a plaintiff brings his case in the wrong venue, we must either dismiss the case or "transfer [it] to any district or division in which it could have been brought" "if it be in the interest of justice...." 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a). We may transfer a case pursuant to § 1406(a) either upon motion by the defendant or sua sponte. See Lafferty v. St. Riel, 495 F.3d 72, 74-75, 75 n.3 (3d Cir. 2007) (leaving undisturbed the district court's suasponte transfer of a case pursuant to § 1406(a)); Decker v. Dyson, 165 F. App'x 951, 954 n.3 (3d Cir. 2006) ("Under 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a), a district court, upon a motion or sua sponte, may transfer a case to a court of proper jurisdiction when such a transfer is in the interest of justice."). However, it is not in the interest of justice to transfer a case that is frivolous. Cf. Wojciechowski v. United States, 116 F. App'x 268, 269 (Fed. Cir. 2004) (citing Galloway Farms, Inc. v. United States, 834 F.2d 998, 1000-01 (Fed. Cir. 1987)); Pearson v. Food & Drug Admin., 65 F.3d 175 (Table) (per curiam) (9th Cir. 1995). Likewise, transfer is not in the interest of justice "where... [it] would be futile because the case would be dismissed even after transfer." Econ. Research Servs., Inc. v. N. Western Corp., Civ. A. No. 07-4175, 2007 WL 4557785, at *4 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 21, 2007) (citing King v. Russell, 963 F.2d 1301, 1304 (9th Cir. 1992)).

III. DISCUSSION

In the Second Amended Complaint, Plaintiff asserts ten causes of action, including: (1) claims pursuant to Title II of the ADA; (2) claims pursuant to Section 504 of the RA; (3) claims of malicious prosecution and unlawful seizure; (4) claims pursuant to Monell v. N.Y. City Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658 (1978); (5) claims of "supervisory violations"; (6) a claim of conspiracy in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983; (7) a claim of obstruction of justice in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1985(2); (8) a claim of conspiracy in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3); (9) "negligent supervision" claims; and (10) a First Amendment claim. We address each cause of action separately below.

A. ADA Claims

In his first cause of action, Plaintiff asserts claims under Title II of the ADA against all 200-plus Defendants. Plaintiff alleges that all of the Defendants denied him the benefits of their public services or facilities because of his disability. For the following reasons, all of Plaintiff's ADA claims are dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) except those against the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, the Pennsylvania Superior Court, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and the Pennsylvania Department of Insurance. Moreover, we sever and transfer Plaintiff's claims against the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, the Pennsylvania Superior Court, and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a).

Title II provides that "no qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by any such entity." 42 U.S.C. § 12132. In order to state a claim for a violation of Title II, a plaintiff must establish the following: "(1) he is disabled; (2) he has been excluded from participation in or denied the benefits of services, programs, or activities provided by a public entity, or was otherwise discriminated against by a public entity; and (3) that such discrimination was based on his disability." Hogan v. City of Easton, Civ. A. No. 04-759, 2004 WL 1836992, at *6 (E.D. Pa. Aug. 17, 2004) (footnote omitted) (citing Adelman v. Dunmire, Civ. A. No. 95-4039, 1997 WL 164240, at *1 (E.D. Pa. Mar. 28, 1997)).

We find that Plaintiff has properly alleged that he satisfies the ADA's definition of "disabled." The ADA defines disability as: "(A) a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such individual; (B) a record of such an impairment; or (C) being regarded as having such an impairment." 42 U.S.C. § 12102(2). In the Second Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that he suffers from diabetes-related visual impairments that substantially limit one or more major life activities, that he has a record of "visual impairments," and that he was regarded as disabled by Defendants. (2nd Am. Compl. ¶ 265.) Moreover, the factual allegations, taken as true, properly demonstrate that Plaintiff is significantly restricted in his ability to read as a result of his visual impairments. (See, e.g., id. ¶¶ 44-46.) Consequently, Plaintiff has sufficiently alleged that he is disabled for purposes of the ADA. See 29 C.F.R. § 1630.2(j) (defining "substantially limits"); 42 U.S.C. § 12102(2)(A) (including "seeing" and "reading" in the definition of "major life activity"). Moreover, we find that Plaintiff has sufficiently alleged throughout the Second Amended Complaint that he endured discrimination "due to his... vision impairments [sic] disabilities.'" (E.g., 2nd Am. Compl. ¶ 182 (emphasis omitted).)

Nevertheless, Title II only applies to discrimination by a "public entity," which means: "(A) any State or local government; (B) any department, agency, special purpose district, or other instrumentality of a State or States or local government; and (C) the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, and any commuter authority (as defined in section 24102(4) of Title 49)." 42 U.S.C. § 12131(1). Title II therefore does not apply to individuals, private entities, or federal entities. See Emerson v. Thiel College, 296 F.3d 184, 189 & n.3 (3d Cir. 2002); Disabled in Action of Pa. v. SEPTA, 539 F.3d 199, 212 (3d Cir. 2008) (citing 42 U.S.C. ยง 12132). Because Plaintiff may only pursue his ADA claims against the public ...


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