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Walthour v. Herron

May 6, 2010

VICTOR WALTHOUR, SR., PLAINTIFF,
v.
JUDGE JON HERRON, DEFENDANT.



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

OPINION AND ORDER

This case was instituted by pro se Plaintiff, Victor Walthour, Sr., on April 5, 2010. The Complaint (Doc. No. 1) alleges that on March 24, 2010 Defendant, the Honorable John W. Herron (improperly captioned as "Judge Jon Herron"), signed a decree removing Plaintiff as the legal guardian of Plaintiff's wife, Mrs. Rosalyn Walthour. (Compl., 3.) The only further averments are that a person named Sheila Gibson was also involved and that court reporters witnessed this event. (Id.) The Complaint asserts federal question jurisdiction under 18 U.S.C. §§ 241, 242, 245, 247, 371 and 1951, and 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985, 1986, and 3631. (Id. at 2.) The relief sought by Plaintiff includes:

Removal of decision making duties[.] Everything he has now and in the future[.] Everything his wife has now and in the future[.] Everything any offspring has now and in future[.] Everything his in-laws have now and in future[.] Everything his parents have now and in future[.] (Id. at 3-4.)

Before the Court is a Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No. 3) and supporting Memorandum of Law (Doc. No. 4) filed by Judge Herron. Plaintiff filed a response in the form of a Motion (Doc. No. 6) requesting that Judge Herron's Motion to Dismiss be denied (hereinafter "Plaintiff's Response in Opposition"). Plaintiff's Response in Opposition states in full:

Now this day 16 April 2010 I ask that the motion to dismiss be denied.

1) Knowledge is power, I have the knowledge that a Judge cannot open and alter a settlement brokered by another Judge who ordered it sealed! (Pl.'s Response in Opposition, 1.)

Attached to Plaintiff's Response in Opposition is a copy of a March 24, 2010 Interim Order and Opinion from the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia, Orphan's Court Division, signed by Judge Herron (hereinafter "Exhibit A"). From this Opinion, it is apparent that Plaintiff's wife is incapacitated and is the beneficiary of a trust for her care and maintenance, which is worth approximately $9,649,643. (Id. at Exhibit A, 1.)

On February 16, 2010, Judge Herron held a hearing regarding the proposed spending plan under Mrs. Walthour's trust. (Id.) After this hearing, Judge Herron Ordered that Plaintiff be removed as co-guardian of his wife's estate because the proposed spending plan was wasteful of Mrs. Walthour's assets. (Id.) The proposed spending plan would have resulted in a projected annual income deficit of approximately $368,500. (Id.) The concluding paragraphs of Judge Herron's Opinion state that:

Victor Walthour, co-guardian, fails to appreciate the significant financial issues and in consideration of his testimony during the proceedings, this Court deems him unqualified to serve as co-guardian and orders that he cease to serve in this capacity.

A further hearing shall take place on April 13, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. in Courtroom 416 City Hall at which time the remaining guardian Ms. Hobkirk shall appear and present an alternative care plan for the Incapacitated Person [i.e., Rosalyn Walthour]. (Id. at Exhibit A, 2.)

For reasons stated below, the Court will grant Defendant's Motion and dismiss the Complaint in its entirety.

I. MOTION TO DISMISS STANDARD

The motion to dismiss standard has undergone recent transformation, culminating with the Supreme Court's Opinion in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (2009). After Iqbal it is clear that "threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements do not suffice" in defeating a motion to dismiss. Id. at 1949; see also Bell Atlantic Corp. V. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007). Applying the principles of Iqbal, the Third Circuit in Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203 (3d Cir. 2009), articulated a two part analysis that district courts in this Circuit must conduct in evaluating whether allegations in a complaint survive a motion to dismiss.

First, the factual and legal elements of a claim should be separated, meaning "a District Court must accept all of the complaint's well-pleaded facts as true, but may disregard any legal conclusions." Id. at 210-11. Second, the Court must determine whether the facts alleged in the complaint demonstrate that the plaintiff has a "plausible claim for relief." Id. at 211. In other words, a complaint must do more than allege a plaintiff's entitlement to relief, it must "show" such an entitlement with its facts. Id. (citing Phillips v. County of Allegheny 515 F.3d 224, 234-35 (3d Cir. 2008)). "Where the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged--but it has not 'shown'-- 'that the pleader is entitled to relief.'" Iqbal, 129 S Ct. at 1950. This "plausibility" determination under step two of the analysis is a "context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id.

In this case, the allegations contained in Plaintiff's Complaint will be liberally construed, as pleadings filed by pro se plaintiffs are held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by attorneys. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(e) ("[p]leadings must be construed so as to do justice").Plaintiff has not indicated whether he is suing Judge Herron in his official or personalcapacity.Therefore, in deciding this Motion to Dismiss and construing Plaintiff's ...


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