The opinion of the court was delivered by: Slomsky, J.
This case is about real property that was sold at a Philadelphia Sheriff's Sale on June 28, 2012. Presently before the Court are Motions to Dismiss filed by the two Defendants: Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP ("Linebarger") (Doc. No. 11) and the City of Philadelphia (Doc. No. 25). Plaintiffs filed a Response in Opposition to Linebarger's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No. 19), and Defendant Linebarger filed a supplemental Memorandum in Support of its Motion (Doc. No. 24).
Plaintiffs John Baldwin a/k/a Yahya Abdul Latif ("Baldwin") and the
Hashar Masjid Al*fn1 ("the Masjid") commenced this
action on February 13, 2012 against Defendants Linebarger
and the City of Philadelphia. (Doc. No. 1.) In the Complaint, Plaintiffs
seek to overturn the decision of the Philadelphia Court of Common
Pleas to sell the property on which the Masjid is located at a
Sheriff's Sale. (Doc. No. 3.) On July 3, 2012, this Court held a
hearing on the Motion filed by Defendant Linebarger.*fn2
(Doc. No. 23.) For reasons that follow, Defendants' Motions
to Dismiss the Complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(1) for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction will be
John Baldwin is the Iman, or religious leader, of the Masjid al Hashar, which is an Islamic religious organization based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Doc. No. 3 at 3.) From 1990 to 2011, Baldwin owned the property on which the Masjid is located at 2823 N. 22nd Street.*fn3 (Doc. No. 3; Doc. No. 7 at 1.) According to the Complaint, Baldwin applied for, but was not granted, a religious building exemption which would have released the owner of the property from paying real estate taxes to the City. (Id.) Baldwin claims that he first applied for tax exempt status in 1990, but "[a] while ago I found out that [the] City did not process my request nor was I able to respond right away[,] but I did re-enter my request of tax exemption with the City." (Id.)
Since 1990, tax payments for the property have not been made to the City of Philadelphia. (Doc. No. 3 at 3.) Every six months, Baldwin received from the City notification of the outstanding taxes owed on the property. (Id.) Despite these notices, he did not pay the property tax due and instead claims that he "re-entere[ed] [a] request of tax exemption." (Id.)
To satisfy the unpaid taxes owed on the property, Linebarger, on behalf of the City, commenced proceedings to sell the property at Sheriff's Sale. (Doc. No. 3 at 3; Doc. No. 25, Ex. 1.)*fn4 According to Baldwin, "[A]fter all my request[s] and pleading to City officials[,] [the] property was sold to a law firm who in turn seeks recovery of the taxes owed via Sheriff's Sa[le]." (Doc. No. 3 at 3.) Baldwin further alleges, "The way I was treated was beyond belief and being a disabled vet on a fixed income made my recovery [of] said property impossible." (Id.)
On January 7, 2008, Linebarger filed a Petition for Rule to Show Cause why the property located at 2823 N. 22nd Street should not be sold free and clear of all liens and encumbrances. (Doc. No. 11-2 at 1; Doc. No. 25, Ex. 1.) On April 1, 2008, notice of the Show Cause Petition was posted on the property. (Doc. No. 11, Ex. B at 2.) Soon thereafter, on April 17, 2008, Baldwin was served with a copy of the Petition. (Doc. No. 11, Ex. B at 1.) Plaintiffs did not file an answer or responsive pleading to the Petition. (See Doc. No. 25, Ex. 1.) On June 19, 2008, a Judge of the Court of Common Pleas entered an Assessment of Damages Order and Decree Ordering that the Property be Sold at Sheriff's Sale. (Doc. No. 11, Ex. C; Doc. No. 25, Ex. 1 at 4.) Baldwin was notified of the pending sale by first class mail on June 15, 2009. (Doc. No. 11, Ex. D.)
The sale of the property was initially delayed because Baldwin filed for bankruptcy. On July 22, 2009, Baldwin filed for bankruptcy in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Philadelphia. See In re Yahya Abdul Latif, No. 09-15346 (Bankr. E.D. Pa. 2009). This matter was dismissed on September 10, 2009 for failure to provide certain information.*fn5 Id. On October 21, 2009, Baldwin filed a second petition for bankruptcy in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. See In re Yahya Abdul Latif, No. 09-18004 (Bankr. E.D. Pa. 2009). This second petition was dismissed on April 30, 2010 for failure to make plan payments. Id.
On March 27, 2010, a stay was entered in the proceeding before the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia. (Doc. No. 25, Ex. 1 at 5.) The stay was lifted on January 24, 2012, when Baldwin again received notification that the property would be sold at Sheriff's Sale. (Doc. No. 11, Ex. D; Doc. No. 25, Ex. 1 at 5.) The property did not sell at the next sale. Therefore, on May 17, 2012, Baldwin received further notice that the property would be sold at a June 28, 2012 Sheriff's Sale. (Doc. No. 25, Ex. 1 at 5.) On June 28, 2012, the property was sold. (Doc. No. 25 at 4; Doc. No. 25, Ex. 1 at 5.)
As noted, on January 24, 2012, Baldwin received notice that the property would be sold at Sheriff's Sale. (Doc. No. 3 at 3; Doc. No. 11, Ex. E.) Plaintiffs then filed the Complaint in this Court on February 13, 2012, alleging that the property should have been deemed exempt from property tax assessment for religious reasons and that the City erred in not processing the applications for tax exempt status. (Doc. No. 3 at 3.) As relief, Plaintiffs seek "the opportunity to retain [the] property and have it recognized as a holy Masjid that is tax exempt[.]" (Doc. No. 3 at 5.) They also seek "a true and honest investigation into the required request process when seeking exemption on tax relief[.]" (Id.)
As noted above, on April 18, 2012, Linebarger filed a Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction and 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. (Doc. No. 11.) On August 15, 2012, the City of Philadelphia also filed a ...