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Aloysius G. Mcfall v. C. Theodore Fritsch

April 4, 2012

ALOYSIUS G. MCFALL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
C. THEODORE FRITSCH, JR., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM

April __, 2012

I. INTRODUCTION

Pro se Plaintiff Aloysius G. McFall filed a Complaint against the following Defendants: the Honorable C. Theodore Fritsch, Jr., Administrative Judge of the Orphan's Court of Bucks County; the Honorable Ronald D. Castille, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania (hereinafter "the Judicial Defendants"); Charles O. Marte, Jr., Esquire, individually and as a member of the law firm of Marte and Toadvine; and Tracy L. Cassel-Brophy, Esquire, individually and as a member of the law firm of Marte and Toadvine (hereinafter "the Legal Defendants"). Plaintiff's Complaint, inter ali, alleges that Defendants violated his constitutional rights as the result of various actions taken by the state court. Defendants the Honorable C. Theodore Fritsch, Jr. and the Honorable Ronald D. Castille have moved to dismiss Plaintiff's claims pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim. The Legal Defendants also filed a Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6).

For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant Defendants' motions.

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

This case stems from an action arising out of Pennsylvania State Orphan's Court involving the estate of Plaintiff's mother Margaret K. McFall (hereinafter "the underlying litigation") of which Plaintiff and his brother, John T. McFall, were co-executors. Defendant the Honorable C. Theodore Fritsch, Jr. is an Administrative Judge for the Orphans' Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, the successor to the Honorable Daniel C. Lawler, and the presiding judge over the underlying litigation. Defendant the Honorable Ronald D. Castille is Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. Defendants Charles O Marte, Jr. and Tracy L. Cassel-Brophy are both members of the law firm of Marte and Toadvine and counsel for three of the heirs to the McFall Estate.

The litigation history of this case is long and tortured. The crux of Plaintiff's complaint is that Defendants deprived him of his constitutional right to due process and equal protection as the result of various actions and orders performed by the state court. Plaintiff avers that the state court's actions are contrary to governing case law and hinges upon an attempt by the Orphan's Court to retaliate against him because of a previous claim he filed against the Register of Wills/Clerk of Orphan's Court. Plaintiff further avers that the violations occurred because of a systematic bias against pro se litigants in the Pennsylvania court system.

The Underlying Litigation

On September 29, 2004, following a dispute over letters testamentary, Plaintiff, his co-executor, and four other heirs entered into a settlement agreement concerning the distribution of the McFall Estate. After a dispute arose about a property appraisal, Defendant Charles O. Marte Jr., Esquire, who represented the other heirs, filed a Petition for Contempt against Plaintiff and his co-executor on November 23, 2004. On March 2, 2005, the Orphan's Court issued a Decree directing the co-executors to make payments to the heirs, pay attorney fees, and supply releases. Plaintiff and his co-executor made ninety percent of the payments and filed an appeal to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania to dispute the remaining payments. The Superior Court quashed the appeal on December 1, 2005 reasoning that it was an appeal from a non-final order.

On May 10, 2006, Marte filed a Petition for Attachment and Adjudication of Civil Contempt to collect the outstanding payments from the court's March 2, 2005 Decree. A hearing on the Petition was held on September 25, 2006, and on October 19, 2006, the court issued a Decree holding the co-executors in civil contempt for failure to comply with the court's order. On December 3, 2007, Plaintiff and his co-executor appealed the October 19, 2006 Decree to the Superior Court. The Superior Court denied the appeal reasoning that Plaintiff had failed to timely file a concise statement of matters of appeal as required by the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure. On April 2, 2008, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court declined to review the decision.

In October 2007, Marte asked Judge Lawler to issue a Writ of Attachment against Plaintiff and his co-executor. Judge C. Theodore Fritsch, who replaced Judge Lawler upon his retirement, declined to issue the Writ and instead ordered a hearing for May 27, 2008. At the hearing, the court declined Plaintiff's request to vacate the court's October 19, 2006 Decree. Judge Fritsch also refused to certify the March 2, 2005 Decree for appeal or vacate its award of attorney's fees. On July 9, 2008, Judge Fritsch issued separate Writs of Attachment against Plaintiff and his co-executor. On July 11, 2008 , the same day that Plaintiff filed a Notice of Appeal to the Superior Court, Plaintiff and his co-executor appeared before Judge Fritsch and was sentenced to ninety days incarceration, unless they paid the balance due under the March 2, 2005 Decree. Plaintiff paid the remaining monies and later filed an appeal to the Superior Court. The Superior Court affirmed the court's decision on March 17, 2010. In January 2011, the Supreme Court denied Plaintiff's petition for allowance of appeal.

Plaintiff filed suit in this Court on May 9, 2011 under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985. *fn1

On June 6, 2011, Judicial Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint .*fn2 On June 14, 2011, Defendants Marte and Cassel-Brophy filed a Motion to Dismiss. *fn3 Plaintiff filed a Response in opposition to ...


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