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Joseph Ronald Knauss v. U.S. Department of Justice

January 20, 2012


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


Before the Court are Defendants' Motions to Dismiss (ECF Nos. 44, 50, 52, 55, 56, 60, 66). For the reasons set forth in this Memorandum, the defendants' Motions are GRANTED.


Joseph Ronald Knauss ("Plaintiff") is a pro se litigant who has filed suit against thirty-three defendants, including municipal, state and federal government entities and numerous individuals. Plaintiff's claims originate from a May 27, 2010 incident at his home in which Defendants Scott Henderschedt and Randy J. Smith allegedly threatened and attempted to forcefully enter Plaintiff's apartment. According to the Amended Complaint (ECF No. 27), the confrontation resulted from Henderschedt's objections to Plaintiff's interactions with Henderschedt's daughter. Shortly thereafter, Henderschedt allegedly orchestrated a subversive retaliatory scheme targeting Plaintiff.

Plaintiff contends Henderschedt conspired with Plaintiff's physical therapists and physicians to injure Plaintiff and then destroy evidence of their wrongdoing. According to the Amended Complaint, Henderschedt then procured the services of a motorcycle gang member to shoot Plaintiff in a parking lot, a plan that was foiled when Plaintiff drove his car into the gang member. The incident resulted in Plaintiff's criminal prosecution, which is currently underway in the Pennsylvania courts. Additional defendants are police officers, corrections officials, investigators, defense attorneys, prosecutors and judges who allegedly conspired with Henderschedt to falsely convict Plaintiff of several felonies, including kidnaping, rape, attempted homicide and homicide. As part of the scheme, the defendants purportedly falsified documents and testimony, destroyed and fabricated evidence and abused their authority to Plaintiff's detriment. Plaintiff seeks injunctive, declaratory and monetary relief to stem the tide of retaliation and safeguard his constitutional and common law rights.


A. Rule 12(b)(1)

In evaluating a Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss, the court must first determine whether to treat the motion as a facial or factual challenge to the court's subject-matter jurisdiction.

Gould Elecs., Inc. v. United States, 220 F.3d 169, 176 (3d Cir. 2000) (citing Mortensen v. First Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n, 549 F.2d 884, 891 (3d Cir. 1977)). A facial challenge "attack[s] the complaint on its face," while a factual challenge "attack[s] the existence of subject matter jurisdiction in fact, quite apart from any pleading." Mortensen, 549 F.2d at 891. "In reviewing a facial attack, the court must only consider the allegations of the complaint and documents referenced therein and attached thereto, in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Gould Elecs., Inc., 220 F.3d at 176. By contrast, "in reviewing a factual attack, the court may consider evidence outside the pleadings." Id. In addition, in a factual attack, "no presumptive truthfulness attaches to plaintiff's allegations." Mortensen, 549 F.2d at 891. "Moreover, the plaintiff will have the burden of proof that jurisdiction does in fact exist." Id. A factual challenge under Rule 12(b)(1) may be made prior to service of an answer. Berardi v. Swanson Mem'l Lodge No. 48 of Fraternal Order of Police, 920 F.2d 198, 200 (3d Cir. 1990).

B. Rule 12(b)(6)

When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the district court must "accept as true the factual allegations in the complaint and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom." Krantz v. Prudential Invs. Fund Mgmt., 305 F.3d 140, 142 (3d Cir. 2002) (quoting Nami v. Fauver, 82 F.3d 63, 65 (3d Cir. 1996)). In so doing, the courts must consider whether the complaint has alleged enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). Although the Court must accept well-pleaded facts as true, it need not credit "bald assertions" or "legal conclusions." In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1429 (3d Cir. 1997).


A. Federal Agency Defendants

The United States Department of Justice, United States Marshals Service ("USMS") and United States Fugitive Task Force (collectively, "Federal Agency Defendants") filed a Motion to Dismiss alleging the Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1). Although the Federal Agency Defendants themselves are not named parties in the Complaint, Plaintiff states that Defendant Randy J. Smith "is believed to be employed" by them. (Am. Compl. 2:4.) ...

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