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Allen L. Feingold v. Pam Graff; Roberta Harris; Michelle Punturi; Marshall

June 26, 2012


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



In this lawsuit, plaintiff Allen L. Feingold seeks to recover "legal fees" from his former client, Roberta Harris, whom he represented in a workers' compensation case.*fn1 With respect to the remaining defendants, plaintiff claims that they wrongfully prevented him from receiving compensation for that representation. The Court construes his vague allegations against those defendants-all of whom were involved in the workers' compensation proceedings in various capacities-as asserting state-law claims for fraud, abuse of process, civil conspiracy, and punitive damages.*fn2

Presently before the Court are three separate motions to dismiss filed by defendants: (1) the Motion of Defendant Marshall, Dennehey, Warner, Coleman & Goggin, P.C. and Michelle Punturi, Esquire to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, (2) the Motion of Defendants, Pam Graff, Christopher Wenk, Giant Food Stores, LLC, and MAC Risk Management, Inc., to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint Pursuant to FRCP 12(b)(6), and (3) the Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to F.R.C.P. 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) of Defendants, Marc Manzione and Pennsylvania Orthopedic Associates, Inc. For the reasons that follow, the Court grants all three motions and dismisses plaintiff's Complaint with prejudice against all defendants.


A. The Parties

Plaintiff is defendant Harris's former attorney. (See Compl. ¶ 47.) Defendant Giant Food Stores, LLC ("Giant"), was Harris's employer when she suffered an injury at work. (Id. ¶ 26.) Although it is not entirely clear from the Complaint, it appears that MAC Risk Management, Inc. ("MAC"), was Giant's insurer at that time. (See id. ¶¶ 10, 17-25.) Defendants Manzione and Pennsylvania Orthopedia Associates ("POA") are alleged to be "a physician and group participating in defendants' scheme" to wrongly deny workers' compensation benefits to injured individuals. (Id. ¶ 42.) Defendant Marshall, Dennehey, Warner, Coleman, and Goggin ("MDWCG") is the law firm that represented Giant in the workers' compensation proceedings. (See id. ¶¶ 25, 50.)

The Complaint asserts that defendants Graff, Wenk, and Punturi share business addresses with Giant, MAC, and MDWCG, respectively, (see id. ¶¶ 2, 4, 9), but it alleges nothing more about their involvement in the case.

B. Factual Background

On September 18, 2003, Harris was injured while working in the seafood department of a Giant store in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania. (Id. ¶ 26.) Giant and MAC "initially accepted liability for Harris'[s] injury and issued a Notice of Compensation Payable . . . providing for total disability benefits at the weekly rate of $337.50." (Id. ¶ 27.) However, shortly thereafter, they filed a petition to terminate or suspend/modify the benefits. (Id. ¶ 28.) On February 9, 2010, a workers' compensation judge granted the petition for suspension/modification, and Harris appealed. (Id. ¶ 39.) Plaintiff avers that to "[t]o the best of [his] knowledge, Harris'[s] workers' compensation litigation remains and has not been settled or tried." (Id. ¶ 73.)

Plaintiff's interest in this controversy arises from his representation of Harris in the workers' compensation proceedings. In 2003, "[w]ithin days of her accident," Harris hired plaintiff to represent her on a contingent-fee basis. (Id. ¶ 47.) Plaintiff alleges that Giant and MAC conspired to obstruct Harris's case and others like it by engaging in deceptive conduct designed to "increase profits and lower costs by decreasing and/or eliminating the amount of money that seriously injured claimants were likely to receive." (Id. ¶ 17.)

In particular, plaintiff states in the Complaint that Giant and MAC "sought out medical consultants" who would provide false reports and testimony stating that injured workers were not entitled to workers' compensation. (Id. ¶ 18.) Manzione and POA allegedly agreed to provide such false reports and testimony in Harris's case. (Id. ¶ 23.) In addition, as counsel for Giant and MAC, MDWCG allegedly made misrepresentations to the workers' compensation judge that "had the effect of wrongfully causing payment of Harris'[s] benefits . . . to be suspended." (Id. ¶ 50.) Finally, plaintiff claims that Giant and MAC wrongfully refused to engage in "meaningful" settlement discussions with Harris. (Id. ¶ 48.)

Plaintiff's Complaint makes no mention of plaintiff's disciplinary history. However, the court takes judicial notice of the fact that in 2006, plaintiff was suspended from the practice of law in Pennsylvania for five years for, inter alia, "filing frivolous claims of fraud and civil conspiracy against opposing counsel." Feingold v. Hendrzak, 15 A.3d 937, 939 n.1 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2011).*fn4 He was disbarred on August 22, 2008, because he "failed to notify his clients of [the] disciplinary action and continued practicing law while suspended." Id.; see also Feingold v. Office of Disciplinary Counsel, 415 F. App'x 429, 430 (3d Cir. 2011).

In 2007, after plaintiff was suspended from the practice of law, plaintiff "associated with and transferred responsibility for Harris'[s] litigation" to another attorney. (Id. ΒΆ 65.) However, on November 10, 2008, plaintiff and Harris allegedly entered an "assignment agreement" under which Harris assigned to ...

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