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Nguyen Vu, Thanh Thi Nguyen v. City of Philadelphia

April 11, 2012


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


April ___, 2012

Presently before this Court are three (3) Motions to Dismiss filed on behalf of Defendant Qadriyyah Taylor (Doc. 7.); Defendants Judge Sandy L. V. Byrd, Senior Judge Alfred J. DiBona, Jr., Judge John T.J. Kelly, Judge Stephen J. McEwan, Jr., Judge John L. Musmanno, President Judge Pamela Pryor Dembe, (collectively, "Judicial Defendants") and Karen Reid Bramblett, Esquire, Janet M. Fasy, Paul J. Killion, Esquire, Charles E. O'Connor, Jr., Esquire, Donna M. Snyder, Esquire, and John Doe (Doc. 9.); and Defendants Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams ("DA Williams"), former Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham ("DA Abraham"), former Assistant District Attorney Robert Lynch ("ADA Lynch"), former Assistant District Attorney Charlie Ehrlich ("ADA Ehrlich"), Assistant District Attorney Matthew Connelly ("ADA Connelly"), Assistant District Attorney Erica Wilson ("ADA Wilson"), Assistant District Attorney Christine Wechsler ("ADA Wechsler"), Assistant District Attorney Joan Weiner ("ADA Weiner"), and Assistant District Attorney Hugh Burns ("ADA Burns") (collectively, "DA Defendants"). (Doc. 10.)

Plaintiff Nguyen Vu, an inmate at the State Correctional Institute at Greene, filed this matter, pro se, on behalf of himself and his aunt, Plaintiff Thanh Thi Nguyen, alleging civil rights violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff Vu's claims arise from the arrest, prosecution, conviction, and appeal initiated against him in the Court of Common Pleas for events that occurred on December 7, 2006. (Compl. ¶¶ 34-46.)

After being granted a number of extensions in which to file a response to Defendants' Motions to Dismiss, Plaintiff failed to timely respond to Defendants' motions. Under Local Rule

7.1(c), "In the absence of [a] timely response [to a motion], the motion may be granted as uncontested . . . . ." Therefore, pursuant to Local Rule 7.1, the court may grant Defendants' motions as unopposed. Upon careful consideration of the parties' submissions and for the reasons set forth below, this Court will grant all Defendants' Motions to Dismiss.


Pro se Plaintiff Nguyen Vu, on behalf of himself and his aunt, Thanh Thi Nguyen, bring the instant civil rights action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging a conspiracy by Defendants to deny Plaintiff Vu equal protection and due process during his criminal trial and appeal, which he alleges resulted in substantial loss of property, financial hardship, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and injury to his reputation through slander and libel. (Compl. ¶¶ 99, 101-103, 105.) Plaintiffs also allege that Defendants conspired to intentionally inflict emotional distress on Plaintiff Thanh Thi Nguyen by colluding to imprison her loved one to deprive her of her "critical supports." (Compl. ¶¶ 100, 104.) As such, Plaintiffs seek declaratory relief, as well as compensatory and punitive damages and attorney's fees. (Compl. ¶¶ 106-13.)


From the evidence of record, taken in the light most favorable to the Plaintiffs, the pertinent facts are as follows. On March 6, 2007, Plaintiff Vu was arrested and charged for a December 7, 2006, incident involving Defendant Jason John Kegel ("Underlying Incident"), for which Plaintiff Vu was charged with aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person, and possessing an instrument of crime. (Compl. ¶¶ 35, 46; Doc. 7 at 3; Doc. 10 at 8.) On March 7, 2008, Plaintiff Vu was convicted in the Court of Common Pleas for aggravated assault, criminal mischief, possessing an instrument of crime, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, and reckless driving. Plaintiff Vu's sentence was deferred so that a presentence report and mental health evaluation could be conducted. Thereafter, the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office ("DA's Office") gave Plaintiff Vu notice that it would be seeking to impose a mandatory minimum sentence. (Doc. 10 at 9.)

On April 24, 2008, Plaintiff Vu was sentenced to the mandatory minimum sentence, an aggregate of ten (10) to twenty (20) years incarceration in a state correctional facility. After Plaintiff's Vu's post-sentence motions were denied, on August 8, 2008, Plaintiff Vu filed a notice of appeal from the April 24, 2008, judgment and sentence. (Doc. 10 at 9.) The trial court directed Plaintiff Vu to file a Statement of Matters Complained of on Appeal, which Plaintiff filed on August 21, 2008. In reviewing Plaintiff Vu's appeal, the Court of Common Pleas and Superior Court of Pennsylvania each affirmed the judgment of sentence against him. See Commonwealth v. Nguyen Vu, Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia County, Criminal Trial Division, CP-51-CR-0009321-2007 (Mar. 6, 2009); Commonwealth v. Nguyen Vu, Pa. Super. Ct., 2307 EDA 2008, (Nov. 10, 2009).


Despite the state court's findings, Plaintiff Vu alleges the following facts of the underlying incident. On December 7, 2006, as Plaintiff Vu was driving on Roosevelt Boulevard in Philadelphia, Defendant Kegel was tailgating behind Plaintiff's car with his high beams on. (Compl. ¶¶ 36-37.) Defendant Kegel pulled his car alongside Plaintiff and began yelling racial epitaphs at him. (Id.) At the next intersection Defendant Kegel stopped his car in the middle of the road, partially blocking Plaintiff Vu from moving. Defendant Kegel then approached Plaintiff Vu brandishing a gun, which he used to smash Plaintiff's driver-side window. (Compl. ¶ 38.) In trying to get away from Defendant Kegel, the right side of Plaintiff's car bumped the side of Kegel's car. (Id.) Plaintiff claims to have not reported the incident to the police because "as an Asian of Vietnamese descent Plaintiff had many unpleasant encounters with racist police." (Compl. ¶¶ 39-40.)

In his Complaint, Plaintiff Vu alleges that Defendant Kegel filed false police reports, lied to detectives, filed false affidavits, and testified falsely at Plaintiff's preliminary hearing and trial (Compl. ¶ 43.). Plaintiff also alleges that Defendant James J. Miles, an officer with the Philadelphia Police Department, signed Plaintiff's arrest warrant, without probable cause, based on perjured statements by Defendant Kegel and Kegel's foster son, Defendant Corey Anthony Mattes. (Compl. ¶ 46.) Plaintiff further alleges that Defendant ADA Connelly, the Assistant District Attorney working on Plaintiff's hearings, had knowledge that Defendants Kegel and Mattes had committed perjury, but did not correct the perjurious statements because Kegel and Mattes are family members of Defendant ADA Lynch. (Compl. ¶ 51.)

Plaintiff argues that the alleged use of false and fabricated materials in his arrest and criminal proceedings prevented him from having a fair and impartial trial. (Compl. ¶ 58.) Specifically, Plaintiff Vu alleges that the trial judge, Defendant Judge Byrd, had full knowledge that the testimony offered against Plaintiff Vu was perjurious, but found Plaintiff guilty and denied his petitions and post-trial motions to protect family members of Defendant ADA Lynch. (Compl. ¶¶ 58-61.) Plaintiff Vu also alleges that Defendant Judge Byrd colluded with other Defendants to alter the Notes of Testimony to deprive Plaintiff a meaningful opportunity to appeal and to deprive him of his rights to equal protection, due process, and fair trial as guaranteed under the United States Constitution. (Compl. ¶¶ 64-84.) Finally, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Donna M. Snyder, Disciplinary Counsel, and John Doe, unidentified Disciplinary Counsel, deprived him of his equal protection rights when they did not pursue disciplinary action against the DA and Judicial Defendants involved in Plaintiff Vu's underlying criminal prosecution. (Compl. ¶ 83.)

Contrary to Plaintiff Vu's allegations, the trial and appellate courts reported the following facts:

On December 6, 2007, at approximately 8:30 p.m., complainant Jason Kegel and his son Corey Mattes were driving northbound on Roosevelt Boulevard with [Plaintiff Vu] closely following with his high beams illuminated. At the intersection of Roosevelt Boulevard and Ninth Street complainant exited his vehicle, confronted [Plaintiff Vu] and told him to "turn his high beams off and stop riding my ass." Complainant then got back into his vehicle and continued northbound on Roosevelt Boulevard. However, [Plaintiff Vu] continued to follow complainant in the manner described above. Several blocks further, at the intersection of Roosevelt Boulevard and Mascher Avenue, complainant arrived at a red traffic light and [Plaintiff Vu] pulled up behind him and bumped his vehicle. As complainant exited his vehicle to inspect the damage, [Plaintiff Vu] reversed his vehicle, turned in complainant's direction and sped directly toward him. Complainant managed to escape, returned to his vehicle and took evasive actions to avoid further collision with [Plaintiff Vu]. [Plaintiff Vu] passed complainant, made a left-hand turn and drove onto the median toward complainant. Complainant again exited his vehicle and ran toward [Plaintiff Vu's] vehicle, but was not struck. [Plaintiff Vu] started toward complainant again and this time [Plaintiff Vu's] vehicle struck complainant's left leg. Complainant landed next to [Plaintiff Vu's] driver-side window, then kicked and broke [Plaintiff Vu's] window. [Plaintiff Vu] again directed his vehicle towards ...

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