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Green v. Domestic Relations Section Court of Common Pleas" Compliance Unit" Montgomery County

United States District Court, E. D. Pennsylvania

April 9, 2015

ANTHONY LAMAR GREEN Plaintiff-pro se,
v.
DOMESTIC RELATIONS SECTION COURT OF COMMON PLEAS

MEMORANDUM OPINION

NITZA I. QUIÑONES ALEJANDRO, District Chief Judge.

INTRODUCTION

Before this Court is the motion to dismiss filed by Domestic Relations Section Compliance Unit, Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County ("Defendant") pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure ("Rules") 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6), which seeks the dismissal of the federal civil rights claims asserted against it based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted. [ECF 3]. Anthony Lamar Green ("Plaintiff"), acting pro se, has opposed the motion. [ECF 5]. The motion to dismiss has been fully briefed and is ripe for disposition.

For the reasons stated herein, the motion to dismiss is granted.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, filed a complaint on January 12, 2015, [ECF 1], and an amended complaint on January 28, 2015, [ECF 2], against Defendant seeking monetary compensation and other forms of relief for the alleged violation of his civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("§ 1983"). Specifically, Plaintiff asserts that Defendant violated his substantive and procedural rights to due process under the Fourteenth Amendment when Defendant misapplied various Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure and spousal support guidelines in state court support proceedings to determine the amount of financial support he was required to pay his ex-wife.

On February 10, 2015, Defendant filed the instant motion to dismiss, which Plaintiff opposed. When ruling on this motion, this Court must accept, as true, all relevant factual allegations in the amended complaint. Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210-11 (3d Cir. 2009). These allegations, as best gleaned from Plaintiff's factually-sparse pleading, are summarized as follows:

On July 27, 2010, Plaintiff's ex-wife filed for spousal support from Plaintiff in the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County. Defendant was advised by order to appear for a conference hearing on September 17, 2010, and to bring with him an income statement and appropriate expense statement.
Plaintiff attended the scheduled support conference and provided the requested income and expense statements. At the conclusion of the conference, Melissa Johnson, a Domestic Relations Section Officer, prepared a "Summary of Trier of Fact, " and recommended that Plaintiff pay monthly support in the guideline amount of $2, 131.28, plus an additional $213.00 for arrears. According to Plaintiff, this recommendation failed to take into consideration his monthly expenses.
On October 29, 2010, Plaintiff appeared before "Master" Mindy Harris, and produced the income and expense statements previously provided. Plaintiff's monthly spousal support was then reduced to $1, 500.00 a month. However, according to Plaintiff, this amount failed to properly credit Plaintiff for his mortgage payment and other expenses, as required by "applicable Pennsylvania Support Rules and Guidelines" and "Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 1910.11 and 231 Pa. Code R. 1910.16-4." Plaintiff contends that by "misapplying the Pennsylvania support rules and guidelines, " Defendant violated Plaintiff's substantive and procedural due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment.

LEGAL STANDARD

A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1) challenges the existence of subject matter jurisdiction. As the party invoking this Court's jurisdiction, Plaintiff bears the burden of proving that the requisite jurisdictional requirements are met. Development Fin. Corp. v. Alpha Housing & Health Care, Inc., 54 F.3d 156, 158 (3d Cir. 1995); Packard v. Provident Nat'l Bank, 994 F.2d 1039, 1045 (3d Cir. 1993). "[W]hen there is a fact question about whether a court has jurisdiction, the trial court may examine facts outside the pleadings... [b]ecause at issue in a factual 12(b)(1) motion is the trial court's jurisdiction - its very power to hear the case.'" Robinson v. Dalton, 107 F.3d 1018, 1021 (3d Cir. 1997) (quoting Mortensen v. First Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n, 549 F.2d 884, 891 (3d Cir. 1977)). Therefore, this Court is free to consider evidence outside the pleadings, including publicly available records, to resolve factual issues bearing on the court's jurisdiction. See Gotha v. United States, 115 F.3d 176, 179 (3d Cir. 1997); Jiricko v. Bennett, Bricklin & Saltzburg, LLP, 321 F.Supp.2d 636, 640 (E.D. Pa. 2004).

When considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the court "must accept all of the complaint's well-pleaded facts as true, but may disregard any legal conclusions." Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210-11 (3d Cir. 2009). The court must determine "whether the facts alleged in the complaint are sufficient to show that the plaintiff has a plausible claim for relief.'" Id. at 211 ( quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009)). The complaint must do more than merely allege the plaintiff's entitlement to relief; it must "show such an entitlement with its facts." Id. (citations omitted). "[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct the complaint has alleged - but it has not show[n]' - that the pleader is entitled to relief.'" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)) (alterations in original). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. at 678 (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements do not suffice." Id. To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), "a plaintiff must allege facts sufficient to nudge [her] claims across the line from conceivable to plausible.'" Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).

Even though pleadings and other submissions by pro se litigants are subject to liberal construction and the courts are required to accept the truth of a plaintiff's well-pleaded allegations while drawing reasonable inferences in a plaintiff's favor, Wallace v. Fegan, 455 F.Appx. 137, 139 (3d Cir. 2011) (citing Capogrosso v. Sup.Ct. of N.J., 588 F.3d 180, 184 (3d Cir. 2009) (per curiam)), a pro se complaint must still "contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, ...


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