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Healy v. Kathleen Kane Pennsylvania Attorney General

United States District Court, Third Circuit

October 29, 2013

TERRANCE HEALY, et al
v.
KATHLEEN KANE PENNSYLVANIA ATTORNEY GENERAL, et al.

MEMORANDUM

THOMAS N. O’NEILL, JR., J.

Now before me is defendant Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane’s motion to dismiss the complaint of plaintiffs Terance Healy and Todd M. Krautheim who are proceeding pro se and whose complaint asserts their claims “in the name of the United States.” Dkt. No. 1 at ECF p. 1. Kane’s motion seeks to dismiss plaintiffs’ complaint pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. After considering Kane’s motion to dismiss and plaintiffs’ response thereto and for the reasons that follow, I will dismiss plaintiffs’ complaint.

BACKGROUND

In this action plaintiffs claim they “seek to restore the constitutional rights of Pro Se litigants while restoring the integrity and reputation of the judiciary and the legal profession and deliver to the legislature the ability to perform the duties of their position to responsibly manage the law.” Dkt. No. 1 at ECF p. 1. They claim to “challenge the constitutionality of Rule 1.6 Confidentiality of Information of the Rules of Professional Conduct as the rule causes the complete denial of constitutionally protected rights while subverting justice and corrupting the judiciary.”[1] Id. at ECF p. 7. They assert, inter alia, that “Rule 1.6 denies a Pro Se litigant of an opportunity to petition the government for redress of grievances; denies a Pro Se litigant of life, liberty and/or property without due process of law; causes a denial of constitutionally protected rights by the State and as such is UNCONSTITUTIONAL.” Dkt. No. 1 at ECF p. 16 (emphasis in original). Plaintiffs’ complaint asserts their claims against Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane and the Attorneys General of the forty nine other States as well the Attorneys General of the District of Columbia and the United States territories of American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Id. at ECF pp. 1-6.

Plaintiffs’ complaint alleges that Terance Healy is a party to a divorce action in the Court of Common Pleas for Montgomery County (Healy v. Healy, No. 2007-12477 (Pa. Ct. Com. Pls. Montgomery Cnty.)).[2] Id. at ECF p. 8. Plaintiffs’ complaint alleges that an appeal from the divorce action “filed in August 2001 was ignored, neglected by the Prothonotary and not forwarded to the Superior Court” and that “[a]n Appeal filed in May 2013 is currently before the Superior Court of Pennsylvania.” Id. They allege that “[a] Motion to Compel the Production of Documents is pending with the Superior Court.” Id. Plaintiffs contend that “the lower court has commenced a series of obstructive acts to prevent the Appeal” from Mr. Healy’s divorce action including, “a. acting without jurisdiction, b. abuse of power – deliberate issuance of void orders, c. abuse of power – intimidation to prevent court reporters from producing transcripts for the Appeal, d. conspiracy – prothonotary has failed to forward all documents and necessary exhibits to the Superior Court.” Id. Plaintiffs assert that “[w]hen Rule 1.6 is applied to the above injustices, they are lawful and a required necessity as they protect the integrity and reputation of the judiciary.” Id. In support of plaintiffs’ claim, Mr. Healy alleges a

series of acts of extreme and deliberate attorney misconduct on the court record, in the court docket, available in the transcripts of hearings in the matter during hearings in February 2013 which were held improperly during the pendancy [sic] of an ignored appeal to seek enforcement of a void order issued during the pendancy of that ignored appeal, where that void order was based on a prior void order, which was further based on a void order for equitable distribution which was based on a void and defective divorce decree.

Id. at ECF p. 14. Plaintiffs contend that “Rule 1.6 provides the law to support [these] decisions, which [the judiciary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania] cannot in good conscience defend or explain.” Id. at ECF p. 9.

Plaintiffs’ complaint also alleges that Todd Krautheim is a party to a foreclosure action brought by Bank of America, National Association in the Court of Common Pleas for Bucks County in January 2011 (Bank of America, N.A. v. Krautheim, No. 2011-00193 (Pa. Ct. Com. Pl. Bucks)).[3] Id. at ECF p. 15. Plaintiffs assert that “[a] Judgment entered in May 2011 was unknown to [Mr. Krautheim] until November 2012.” Id. They assert that “[a]fter a hearing where documented acts of misconduct were presented, the Court recognized the standard had been met for a ‘petition to strike’ and ordered, adjudged and decreed that the judgment be stricken.” Id. Plaintiffs allege that “[a]n act of fraud relating to the transfer of the mortgage for the property created the misconduct necessary under Rule 1.6 to undermine [Mr. Krautheim, ] the Pro Se defendant in the matter.” Id. They contend that “[e]fforts to expose, address or resolve the matter have been hindered as any effort to resolve will expose the fraudulent title transfer.” Id. Plaintiffs assert that Bank of America “subsequent[ly] submit[tted ] another fraudulent title[, ] continu[ing] this hindrance of preventing resolution and providing [the Bank] the opportunity to assert Rule 1.6 – in their defense, or – in the defense of their client, or – in the defense of the judge who signed the initial judgment.” Id. They allege that “[t]he matter could eventually escalate to a higher court where the same Rule 1.6 would prevent any discussion of the misconduct, or any action which caused the misconduct.” Id.

Plaintiffs assert a litany of complaints about Rule 1.6 and its alleged effects including, inter alia, that it “lawfully excuses”: (1) “the failure to transmit the court record, even when Ordered by the Superior Court, ” (2) “the Superior Court from compelling the production of the court record, ” and (3) “the lower court failure to follow an order compelling production of the court record.” Id. at ECF p. 8. They further assert that it “lawfully excuses”: (1) “the failure to transmit the court record when ordered by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, ” and (2) “the Supreme Court from enforcing a Mandamus Order compelling the production of the court record.” Id. at ECF p. 9. They further assert that “Rule 1.6 lawfully and effectively nullified Pennsylvania Law[, ] The Rules of Appellate Procedure[, ] The Superior Court of Pennsylvania[, ] and the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.” Id. Furthermore, they claim that “Rule 1.6 lawfully destroys the integrity and reputation of the judges” and that “[t]he judiciary is clearly placed into a moral and ethical situation where saving the integrity and reputation of the judiciary is more important to society than justice for a Pro Se litigant.” Id. They claim that “Rule 1.6 is obstructing justice, denying justice, preventing access to the courts, denying civil rights, denying constitutional rights and constitutionally protected liberties.” Id. at ECF p. 12.

Plaintiffs claim that they endeavored to “take action to address Rule 1.6” by going to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Id. They allege that Kane “refused to meet with the Plaintiffs, ” as did “Paul J. Killion, Chief Disciplinary Counsel” of the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, and Rober A. Graci, Chief Counsel of the Judicial Conduct Board. Id. Plaintiffs’ complaint alleges that “Defendant Kathleen Kane, and the Attorneys General, are bound by the Rules of Professional Conduct – Rule 1.6 and as such are limited in the actions which they are permitted to take in defense of this challenge as any action could or would be a violation of Rule 1.6 – the constitutionality of which is in question.” Id.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) authorizes dismissal of a complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. “A motion under Rule 12(b)(1) may be treated as either a facial attack on the complaint or a factual challenge to the court’s subject matter jurisdiction.” Gould Elecs., Inc. v. United States, 220 F.3d 169, 176 (3d Cir. 2000). Because Kane’s motion presents a facial attack on plaintiffs’ claims, I assume that their allegations are true and consider whether “the pleadings fail to present an action or claim within the court's jurisdiction.” Hall v. Easton Area Sch. Dist., No. 10–7603, 2012 WL 526287, at *2 (E.D. Pa. Feb. 17, 2012), citing Mortenson v. First Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass’n, 549 F.2d 884, 891 (3d Cir. 1977). Plaintiffs bear the burden of persuasion when subject matter jurisdiction is challenged. Kehr Packages v. Fidelcor, Inc., 926 F.2d 1406, 1409 (3d Cir. 1991).

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) permits a court to dismiss all or part of an action for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). When reviewing a motion to dismiss, “courts accept all factual allegations as true, construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and determine whether, under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief.” Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009) (internal quotations omitted). The question is not whether plaintiffs will ultimately prevail. Watson v. Abington Twp., 478 F.3d 144, 150 (3d Cir. 2007). Instead, for plaintiffs’ claims to survive defendants’ motions to dismiss, their “complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009), quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).

Because plaintiffs “ha[ve] filed [their] complaint pro se, [the Court] must liberally construe [their] pleadings, and . . . apply the applicable law, irrespective of whether [they] ha[ve] mentioned it by name.” Dluhos v. Strasberg, 321 F.3d 365, 369 (3d Cir. 2003), see also Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972) (holding pro se complaints to “less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers”). “Courts are to construe complaints so as to do substantial justice, keeping in mind that ...


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