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Mincy v. Luzerne County

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

November 20, 2014

HILTON KARRIEM MINCY, Plaintiff.
v.
LUZERNE COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM

KAROLINE MEHALCHICK, Magistrate Judge.

On April 3, 2012, Plaintiff Hilton Karriem Mincy, an inmate currently incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution - Forest in Marienville, Pennsylvania, filed the instant action pro se pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 1). On May 15, 2012, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint. (Doc. 10). On March 21, 2013, Plaintiff filed a motion for leave to file a second amended complaint and a proposed second amended complaint. (Doc. 112; Doc. 114). On July 8, 2013, while Plaintiff's motion to file an amended complaint (Doc. 112) was still pending, Plaintiff filed a motion for leave to file a second amended complaint and a proposed second amended complaint. (Doc. 154, Doc. 156). On September 12, 2013, this Court issued an order granting Plaintiff's motion (Doc. 154), and mooting all other motions related to Plaintiff filing an amended complaint. (Doc. 166). Defendants filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiff's second amended complaint on September 26, 2013. (Doc. 176). On August 25, 2014, the Court adopted the Report and Recommendation of the undersigned Magistrate Judge (Doc. 253), and granted in part and denied in part Defendants' motion to dismiss. (Doc. 281). On September 8, 2014, Defendants filed an Answer and Affirmative Defenses (Doc. 283) to Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint.

Pending before this Court are a number of motions which are ripe for decision, and will be addressed herein. Specifically, in this Order, the Court will address Plaintiff's Motion for Sanctions (Doc. 218), Plaintiff's Motion to Attach "Appendix H" to the Second Amended Complaint (Doc. 248), Defendants' Motion to Strike Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (Doc. 266), and Plaintiff's three Motions to Strike (Doc. 268, Doc. 274, and Doc. 278).[1]

I. BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The Defendants in this action are Luzerne County, Pennsylvania; Carolee Medico Olenginski, former Prothonotary of Luzerne County; Bob Sypinewski, former Deputy Prothonotary of Luzerne County; and Samuel C. Stretton, the former Solicitor to the Luzerne County Prothonotary's Office.

Plaintiff's claims stem from a civil action filed on May 18, 2009, in the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas, Mincy v. Marsillio, No. 2009-7626. (Doc. 156, p. 2). In that action, Plaintiff brought a suit against his former attorney, Thomas Marsillio, claiming legal malpractice and breach of contract. (Doc. 58, p. 3). Plaintiff alleges that throughout the Marsillo matter, the court personnel in the Prothonotary's office exhibited a pattern of misconduct. In that case, a hearing was held on March 29, 2010, and Judge Muroski ordered Plaintiff's amended complaint to be filed. (Doc. 156, ¶¶ 17-23). The preliminary objections of the defendant in that case, Marsillio, were deemed moot and Marsillio indicated to the court via a letter that his preliminary objections to the amended complaint would be the same, but did not re-file the objections. (Doc. 156, ¶ 25). On April 12, 2010, the court dismissed the case. (Doc. 156, ¶ 27). Plaintiff alleges that because the objections were not formally re-filed, he was not given an opportunity to respond, thus violating his right to access the courts. Plaintiff further avers that the court did not send him a copy of the order entered dismissing his case until a week later. (Doc. 156, ¶¶ 28-30). Plaintiff also alleges that he moved to amend his complaint and that either Olenginski or Sypinewski failed to properly file his amended complaint.

Plaintiff further alleges that Defendants did not permit Plaintiff to file an appeal of Judge Chester Muroski's April 12, 2010 Order dismissing, on preliminary objections, Plaintiff's complaint in the Marsillio case. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that on May 11, 2010, he informed the court of his intent to appeal. (Doc. 156, ¶ 37). The appeal was not filed. On May 28, 2010, Defendant Stretton, acting as "Solicitor for the Prothonotary" informed Plaintiff that the appeal would not be filed because it was received more than thirty (30) days after the court order and because there were insufficient filing fees attached. (Doc. 13, pp. 2, 6). Plaintiff alleges that pursuant to the prisoner mailbox rule, his appeal was given to the prison officials within the thirty day period and should be considered timely. Plaintiff also alleges that his failure to include fees should have been addressed with an advisory notice, rather than an outright denial of the filing. On July 14, 2011, Plaintiff brought a mandamus action seeking to compel Defendants to accept the filing of his appeal. Mincy v. Olenginski, No. 121 MM 2011. On January 26, 2012, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania entered an order denying Plaintiff's petition for writ of mandamus. Mincy v. Olenginski, No. 121 MM 2011.

On April 3, 2012, Plaintiff initiated the instant action against Luzerne County, Judge Muroski, Olenginski, Sypinewski, and Stretton in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. (Doc. 1). On November 9, 2012, this Court issued a Report and Recommendation, recommending that Defendant Judge Muroski be dismissed from the action. (Doc. 58). This Court further recommended that claims against Defendants Olenginski, Stretton, and Sypinewski in their official capacities be dismissed. (Doc. 58). On November 29, 2012, this Court adopted the Report and Recommendation. (Doc. 63).

Pursuant to this Court's November 29, 2012 Order, the remaining defendants in this action are Luzerne County, and Olenginski, Sypinewski, and Stretton in their individual capacities. (Doc. 63, p. 2). The remaining claims are: violations of the First and Fourteenth Amendments for interfering with Plaintiff's access to the courts; First Amendment retaliation; and conspiracy to deprive Plaintiff of his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. On July 8, 2013, Plaintiff amended his complaint to include the following claims: a Fourteenth Amendment equal protection claim; municipal liability claims; and a state law claim arising out of Article 5, Section 9 of the Pennsylvania Constitution. ( See Doc. 156). Plaintiff seeks monetary, injunctive, and declaratory relief.

II. DISCUSSION

A. PLAINTIFF'S MOTIONS TO STRIKE DOCUMENTS RELATED TO DEFENDANTS' OBJECTIONS TO THE REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS (DOC. 268 AND DOC. 274)

On May 21, 2014, the undersigned magistrate judge entered a Report and Recommendation (Doc. 253) as to Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint. Plaintiff then filed objections (Doc. 260) to the Report and Recommendations. Defendants then filed a response to Plaintiff's objections. (Doc. 265). Plaintiff then moved to strike Defendants' response to his objections. (Doc. 268). Defendants also filed objections to the Report and Recommendation (Doc. 257). Plaintiff also moved to strike these objections. (Doc. 274).

On August 25, 2014, the District Court adopted the Report and Recommendation. (Doc. 281). As such, Plaintiff's motions to strike Defendants' objections to the Report and Recommendation and their response ...


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