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Wilson v. King

March 23, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Tucker, J.


Presently before this Court is the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants Verizon, Inc., Jack Brennan and Louise Knight (Doc. 85).*fn1 For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants Defendants' Motion.


On September 19, 2008, Plaintiff filed a Third Amended Complaint (Doc. 52)*fn2 against Defendants Verizon, Inc., Jack Brennan, Louise Knight, Louis Lombardi, and Derek Liss for allegedly engaging in a civil conspiracy to deprive Plaintiff of civil rights guaranteed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.*fn3 The pertinent facts giving rise to the alleged conspiracy are as follows. In 1993, Plaintiff opened a newsstand in Philadelphia, PA at the northwest corner of 16th Street and John F. Kennedy Boulevard in front of SEPTA's Suburban Station. In 1995, Plaintiff submitted an application to the Lottery Commission to obtain a license to sell Instant Lottery Tickets in his newsstand. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania informed Plaintiff that he must have a telephone line installed to obtain the license. In June 1996, the City of Philadelphia passed an ordinance permitting Plaintiff to supply electricity to his newsstand. Plaintiff contracted with an electrician to begin the construction project, which Plaintiff estimated would cost no more than $4,000.00. On the day Plaintiff and his contractor began drilling on the sidewalk, Plaintiff alleges Defendant Lombardi, General Manager of Compass Management and Leasing, Inc. ("CML") at Suburban Station, immediately came outside and stopped them from completing the work. Plaintiff claims Defendant Lombardi then had concrete poured over the contractor's work.

Sometime over the course of the next two years, Plaintiff sought legal assistance from Attorney Derek Liss to help him obtain the requisite written permission from CML to complete the electrical work. In December 1998, Plaintiff alleges Defendant Verizon, Inc. presented him with a plan to run wire conduits from a location further up the street and quoted that the job would cost at least $25,000.00. As this was cost prohibitive, Plaintiff looked again for another alternative. In 1999, Defendant Verizon, Inc. expressed it would be willing to run a phone line from the second floor of Suburban Station, but only if Plaintiff obtained permission from Suburban Station and SEPTA to do so.

Plaintiff claims that beginning in 1996, Defendants conspired and purposely engaged in the aforementioned conduct to prevent him from installing a lottery machine in his newsstand. Plaintiff further alleges Defendants knew Plaintiff's business could not survive without a lottery machine.

Plaintiff filed the Third Amended Complaint on September 19, 2008 (Doc. 52) seeking $150,000.00 in damages (Doc. 61). Plaintiff served the Complaint upon the Defendants on December 31, 2008 (Doc. 65), making the Defendants' answers due on January 20, 2009. Defendant Lombardi filed an Answer (Doc. 67) on January 9, 2009, and on January 12, 2009, he filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 68). Upon consideration of Defendant Lombardi's Motion and the Plaintiff's Response in Opposition thereto (Doc. 75), the Court granted Defendant Lombardi's Motion (Doc. 76) and dismissed him from the case on July 17, 2009.

On November 11, 2009, Defendant Verizon, Inc. filed an Answer (Doc. 79) to Plaintiff's Third Amended Complaint.*fn4 In the Answer, Defendant generally denied the allegations set forth in Plaintiff's Complaint on the ground that it lacked sufficient information to formulate a belief as to the truth or falsity of the allegations. Defendant also asserted the affirmative defense that Plaintiff failed to meet the two-year statute of limitations Pennsylvania has with respect to conspiracy claims and requested that the Court enter judgment in Defendant's favor and dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint.*fn5 On November 16, 2009, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Strike Defendant's Answer (Doc. 80), which the Court denied on February 24, 2010 (Docs. 92-93).

On November 30, 2009, Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 85). Plaintiff filed a Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment on December 7, 2009 (Doc. 86). On December 10, 2009, Defendants filed a Response in Opposition thereto (Doc. 87), and on December 14, 2009, Plaintiff filed a Reply (Doc. 88). On January 5, 2010, the Court denied Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 90). The Court now addresses Defendants' pending motion.


Summary judgment is appropriate "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Bjorgung v. Whitetail Resort, LP, 550 F.3d 263, 268 (3d Cir. 2008). An issue is "genuine" if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A factual dispute is "material" if it might affect the outcome of the case under the governing law. Id.

A party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility for informing the district court of the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the record that it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). After the moving party has met its initial burden, "the adverse party's response, by affidavits or otherwise as provided in this rule, must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e). That is, summary judgment is appropriate if the non-moving party fails to rebut by making a factual showing "sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. "[I]f the opponent [of summary judgment] has exceeded the 'mere scintilla' [of evidence] threshold and has offered a genuine issue of material fact, then the court cannot credit the movant's version of events against the opponent, even if the quantity of the movant's evidence far outweighs that of its opponent. Big Apple BMW, Inc. v. BMW of North America, Inc., 974 F.2d 1358, 1363 (3d Cir.1992).

Under Rule 56, the Court must view the evidence presented in the motion in the light most favorable to the opposing party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. Credibility determinations, the weighing of evidence, and the drawing of legitimate inferences from facts must await trial. Id.

"Summary judgment is appropriate if a plaintiff's cause of action is barred by the statute of limitations." Fin. Software Sys., Inc. v. Lecocq, No. 07-3034, 2008 WL 2221903, at *3 (E.D. Pa. May 29, 2008) (citing ...

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