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Joann Mason v. George Threshman

August 27, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: (Judge Munley)


Before the court for disposition is the defendant's motion to dismiss the plaintiff's amended complaint. (Doc. 8). The motion has been briefed and is ripe for disposition.


This case arises out of a dispute involving jewelry that Plaintiff Joann Mason (hereinafter "plaintiff") claims was devised to her and wrongfully possessed by Defendant George Threshman (hereinafter "defendant").

Plaintiff and defendant are siblings. (Doc. 7, Am. Compl. (hereinafter "Am. Compl.") ¶¶ 4, 5, 6). Their parents were Morton and Isabelle Threshman. (Id. ¶¶ 5, 6). Isabelle died on June 7, 1995. (Id. ¶ 7). Pursuant to her will, she devised all of her property to Morton if he survived her. (Id. ¶¶ 7, 8; Doc. 7, Ex. A ¶ 2). An estate was never raised. (Am. Compl. ¶ 9). Plaintiff alleges that Isabelle owned certain jewelry, specifically "a diamond broach with several rings surrounded by diamonds in a band, a 6-8 single stone diamond ring and a diamond wristwatch set in either white gold or platinum . . . ." (Id. ¶ 14). Plaintiff asserts that the 6-8 single stone diamond ring is valued in excess of $135,000. (Id. ¶ 32). The value of the diamond wristwatch set in either white gold or platinum is $10,000. (Id. ¶ 33). Plaintiff refers to these pieces collectively as "jewelry."*fn1 (Id. ¶ 14).

Morton Threshman survived his wife and died on October 31, 1998. (Id. ¶¶ 10, 11). Defendant was named as Executor Morton's Estate. (Id. ¶13). In his will, Morton devised a Star Sapphire ring to his son, Euell Threshman, and all other jewelry he owned at the time of his death to plaintiff. (Doc. 7, Ex. B ¶¶ 3-4). Plaintiff alleges the jewelry she seeks was in Morton's possession at the time of his death. (Am. Compl. ¶ 15).

Plaintiff repeatedly made demands for the jewelry. (Id. ¶ 16). Defendant only provided her with a token amount of different jewelry. (Id.) Defendant continually denied any knowledge of the jewelry or its location. (Id. ¶ 17). Defendant stated that he believed that it was lost and if he found it he would inform plaintiff. (Id. ¶¶ 18, 19). Until recently, as a result of defendant's assertions, plaintiff thought that it was either unaccounted for or lost. (Id. ¶ 21).

In November 2010, plaintiff learned that defendant possessed the jewelry after their father's death. (Id. ¶ 22). Bill Connelly and defendant's ex-wife, Cirila B. Threshman, claim defendant sold the jewelry. (Id. ¶¶ 23, 24; Doc. 7, Exs. C, D). Plaintiff alleges that defendant instructed Bill Connelly and/or Cirila Threshman not to inform plaintiff that he sold it. (Id. ¶ 25). She claims that defendant concealed his possession of the jewelry and intentionally and knowingly acted to defraud her. (Id. ¶¶ 26, 27, 30). Plaintiff demanded the jewelry or its value, however, defendant ignored or refused her requests. (Id. ¶¶ 28, 29).

On January 17, 2012, plaintiff filed her complaint in the Court of Common Pleas of Wayne County. (Doc. 1-2 at 1-6). On February 9, 2012, defendant removed the action to this court. (Doc. 1). Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on February 15, 2012. (Doc. 3). We issued a memorandum and order on June 5, 2012, granting the motion to dismiss without prejudice and allowed plaintiff to file an amended complaint. (Doc. 6). Plaintiff filed an amended complaint on June 25, 2012. (Doc. 7). Defendant filed the instant motion to dismiss on July 9, 2012. (Doc. 8). The parties briefed the issues, bringing the case to its present posture. 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 ¶ 6). Because there is complete diversity of citizenship and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000, 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). The Third Circuit 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. ...

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