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Curran v. Spyder

United States District Court, Middle District of Pennsylvania

July 28, 2014

JOHN F. CURRAN III, Plaintiff,
v.
CARBON SPYDER, et al., Defendants.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

Susan E. Schwab, United States Magistrate Judge

In this civil action, defendant John Mitchell (“Mitchell”), proceeding pro se, has filed what the Court construes to be a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1) and (b)(3) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, or alternatively, for dismissal pursuant to the doctrine of forum non conveniens. For the reasons set forth herein, I recommend that Mitchell's motion be denied.

I. Background and Procedural History.

The origin of this case is peculiar. On November 14, 2011, the pro se plaintiff, John Curran (“Curran”), filed a civil complaint naming eight defendants and setting forth eight separate causes of action. Of the eight named defendants, only the following three are part of the lawsuit assigned to this civil action number: (1) Carbon Spyder, a corporation incorporated in California with its principal place of business there; (2) Mitchell, a California citizen; and (3) Ronald Welsh (“Welsh”), a citizen of Arizona. Along with his initial complaint, Curran paid the filing fee.

After the initial complaint was filed, Curran attempted service on all eight defendants. None of the defendants were properly served, however. Accordingly, all eight defendants, including the three involved herein, filed dismissal motions.[1] On January 25, 2012, after the defendants' motions became ripe for review, Magistrate Judge Smyser recommended that the motions be granted because (1) the Court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction over the claims raised and (2) Curran failed to serve the defendants in accordance with Rule 4 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Doc. 38. On March 29, 2012, the Court adopted Judge Smyser's recommendation that the case be dismissed for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. Doc. 46. The Court, however, did not address the service issue because it was rendered moot in light of the Court's lack of jurisdiction. Id. The Court also gave Curran leave to amend. Id.

On April 20, 2012, following the Court's Order providing him with leave to amend, Curran filed three separate documents entitled “amended complaints, ” see, e.g., Doc. 47, of which only one document bore the case number assigned to this matter. Id. Along with those three documents, Curran included a letter stating that he broke each cause of action down into separate matters. See Doc. 48 at 1-2. Based on Curran's letter, Judge Smyser and the Clerk of Court discussed how to proceed. Eventually, it was agreed that Curran's documents would be filed in separate cases. Id. Accordingly, this particular civil action deals exclusively with Curran's two separate causes of action against Mitchell, Carbon Spyder, and Walsh.

In relevant part, Curran alleges in his amended complaint that he has been assigned all rights and responsibilities for a sub-contract formerly held by a corporation, Gargoyles, Inc. According to Curran, Gargoyles entered into a subcontract with Carbon Spyder for the production of “aviation repair inspection products.” Mitchell, acting on Carbon Spyder's behalf, however, notified Gargoyles “of his intent to withdraw [the] subcontract offer.” This allegedly occurred six months after the contract was executed and one month after “all parts had been delivered and accepted by the customer.” As a result, Curran raises a claim for breach of contract against Mitchell and Carbon Spyder.

Curran also claims that both Carbon Spyder and Mitchell were provided rental space for conducting business. Mitchell, though, purportedly used the rental space for personal storage for a period of 7.5 months. As a result, Curran raises a second claim for breach of contract against both Carbon Spyder and Mitchell.

In addition to the aforementioned breach-of-contract claims, Curran sets forth that Mitchell had also requested an advance to satisfy a child support obligation. According to Curran, he gave Mitchell the requested money, but it has not been paid back. Furthermore, Curran states simply that Mitchell slandered his character by providing “both written and oral statements that were knowingly false in a clear effort to discredit [him].” Liberally construing his amended complaint, as I am required to do, Curran seeks to recover a damages award amounting to $86, 612.84, from both Mitchell and Carbon Spyder, in addition to punitive damages and other relief deemed appropriate by the Court.

Curran's claims against Walsh are not described herein because after Curran filed his amended complaint, Judge Smyser, sua sponte, recommended that those claims be dismissed for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. Doc. 48. Judge Smyser, however, found that the Court had original jurisdiction, via the diversity jurisdiction statute – 28 U.S.C. § 1332, over Curran's claims raised against Mitchell and Carbon Spyder. See Id . at 4. On May 17, 2012, the Court adopted Judge Smyser's Report and Recommendation. Doc. 52.

Subsequently, after Walsh had been dismissed, counsel for Mitchell and Carbon Spyder moved to withdraw his appearance, Doc. 57, and on July 2, 2012, Judge Smyser granted the motion. Doc. 59. Moreover, since counsel's withdrawal, no attorney has re-entered an appearance on Carbon Spyder's behalf, and Mitchell has been proceeding pro se.

Upon reviewing the docket, it became obvious that Curran had not properly served the amended complaint on Mitchell or Carbon Spyder. Accordingly, a telephonic conference was held on May 23, 2013. Following the conference, we ordered Curran to properly serve his amended complaint on Mitchell and Carbon Spyder pursuant to Rule 5 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Doc. 66, and Curran complied.

After being served with the amended complaint, Mitchell filed the motion currently under review and a corresponding brief-in-support. Docs. 71 & 72. In his motion, Mitchell moves for dismissal pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1) and (b)(3) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or alternatively, for dismissal pursuant to the doctrine of forum non conveniens. On September 30, 2013, Curran filed a brief that did not address the merits of Mitchell's motion. See Doc. 73. Nonetheless, given his pro se status, we issued a show-cause order on June 5, 2014, providing Curran with a final opportunity to address the merits of Mitchell's motion with a specific focus on the venue-related issues. Doc. 74. On ...


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