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Joann Mason v. George Threshman

June 5, 2012

JOANN MASON,
PLAINTIFF
v.
GEORGE THRESHMAN, DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Munley

MEMORANDUM

Before the court for disposition is Defendant George Threshman's motion to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (Doc. 3). The motion has been fully briefed and is ripe for disposition.

Background

Plaintiff Joann Mason (hereinafter "plaintiff") claims that Defendant George Threshman (hereinafter "defendant") unlawfully possesses jewelry devised to plaintiff. (Doc. 4-1, Compl.) Plaintiff and defendant are siblings. (Id. ¶ 4, 7). Plaintiff alleges that defendant wrongfully possesses a diamond ring and a watch devised to plaintiff from their mother, Isabelle Threshman. (Id. ¶ 9). She alleges that the diamond ring is valued in excess of $135,000 and the watch is valued at $10,000. (Id. ¶¶ 19-20).

Isabelle Threshman died on June 7, 1995, devising all of her property to her husband, Morton Threshman, plaintiff and defendant's father. (Id. ¶¶ 4-6; Doc. 4-1, Ex. A ¶ 2). Morton Threshman died on October 31, 1998. (Compl. ¶ 6). In his will, he devised a property in New Jersey to defendant, a property in Pennsylvania and a Star Sapphire ring to his son, Euell Threshman and all other jewelry he owned at the time of his death to plaintiff. (Doc. 4-1, Ex. B ¶¶ 2-4). Morton Threshman named defendant as the executor of his estate. (Id. ¶ 11; Doc. 4-1, Ex. B ¶ 7).

Plaintiff avers that her mother's ring and watch were in Morton Threshman's possession at the time of his death. (Compl. ¶ 10). She claims that she asked defendant for this jewelry, however, defendant continuously denied any knowledge of it. (Id. ¶¶ 12-13). Until recently, plaintiff believed the jewelry was either unaccounted for or lost. (Id. ¶ 14). On or about January 2011, plaintiff learned that defendant possessed the ring and watch after Morton Threshman's death. (Id. ¶ 15). She alleges that defendant failed to honor Morton Threshman's "Last Will and Testament," claiming that defendant has intentionally and knowingly defrauded her and converted the jewelry for his own use. (Id.; Doc. 4-1, Ex. B).

On January 17, 2012, plaintiff filed her complaint in the Court of Common Pleas of Wayne County. (Doc. 4-1, Compl.). On February 10, 2012, defendant removed the action to this court. (Doc. 1). Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on February 15, 2012, bringing this case to its present posture. (Doc. 5).

Jurisdiction

Plaintiff Joann Mason is a citizen of Pennsylvania and Defendant George Threshman is a citizen of New Jersey, establishing diversity of citizenship between the parties. (Doc. 1, Notice of Removal ¶¶ 4, 5). The amount in controversy exceeds $75,000.00. (Doc. 4-1, Compl. ¶¶ 19, 20). Because there is complete diversity of citizenship between the parties and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000.00, the court has jurisdiction over the case. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332 ("district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75,000, exclusive of interest and costs, and is between . . . citizens of different States[.]"); 28 U.S.C. § 1441 ("any civil action brought in a State court of which the district courts of the United States have original jurisdiction, may be removed by the defendant . . . to the district court of the United States for the district and division embracing the place where such action is pending.").

As a federal court sitting in diversity, we must apply state law. Chamberlain v. Giampapa, 210 F.3d 154, 158 (3d Cir. 2000) (citing Erie R.R. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64, 78 (1938)). In this case, the relevant state is Pennsylvania.

Standard of Review

A Rule 12(b)(6) motion tests the sufficiency of a complaint's allegations. Granting the motion is appropriate if, accepting as true all the facts alleged in the complaint, the plaintiff has not pleaded "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face," or put another way, "nudged [his or her] claims across the line from conceivable to plausible." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). "[W]here 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 'show[n]'-'that the pleader is entitled to relief.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (citing FED.R.CIV.P. 8(a)(2)).

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals interprets Twombly to require the plaintiff to describe "'enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of' [each] necessary element" of the claims alleged in the complaint. Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). The plaintiff must allege facts that "justify moving the case beyond the pleadings to the next stage of litigation." Id. at 234-35.

In relation to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), the complaint need only provide "'a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,' in order to 'give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests,'" Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citation omitted). "[T]he factual detail in a complaint [cannot be] so undeveloped that it does not provide a defendant the type of notice of claim which is contemplated by Rule 8." Phillips, 515 ...


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