United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
Maureen P. Kelly Chief Magistrate Judge
ORDER RE: ECF NO. 40
Barry Fischer United States District Judge
following reasons, Plaintiff's Motion for
Reconsideration, ECF No. 40, filed pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
60(b), will be denied.
above-captioned prisoner civil rights complaint was received
by the Clerk of Court on May 29, 2014, and was referred to
Chief United States Magistrate Judge Maureen P. Kelly for
pretrial proceedings in accordance with the Magistrate Judges
Act, 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), and Rule 72 of the Local
Rules for Magistrate Judges.
Chief Magistrate Judge, in a Report and Recommendation (the
“Report”), ECF No. 8, filed on July 21, 2014,
recommended that the Complaint be dismissed pre-service
pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act for failure to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Plaintiff
filed Objections, ECF No. 9, and the Court overruled the
Objections, adopted the Report and Recommendation and
dismissed the Complaint and the Amended Complaint filed
subsequently to the Report for failure to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted. ECF No. 14. Plaintiff filed an
appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third
Circuit, which, on June 12, 2015, affirmed the dismissal of
Plaintiff's Complaint and Amended Complaint. ECF No.
two years later, Plaintiff has filed a “Motion For
Reconsideration Of The Court's Dismissal, For
Reimbursement of the Filing and Appellate Fees, Or to
Reinstate the Civil Rights Complaints” (the “Rule
60(b) Motion”). ECF No. 40. Plaintiff alleges that the
jurisdictional basis for the present filing is Fed.R.Civ.P.
“movant under Rule 60(b) bears a heavy burden, ”
and “[w]e view Rule 60(b) motions as extraordinary
relief which should be granted only where extraordinary
justifying circumstances are present.” Bohus v.
Beloff, 950 F.2d 919, 930 (3d Cir. 1991) (internal
citations and quotation marks omitted). Relief under Rule
60(b) relief should “be reserved for those cases of
injustices which ... are deemed sufficiently gross to demand
a departure from rigid adherence to the doctrine of res
judicata.” U.S. v. Beggerly, 524 U.S. 38, 46
instant case, Plaintiff has failed to carry the requisite
burden to show entitlement to relief Rule 60(b). In an
attempt to carry his heavy burden under Rule 60(b), Plaintiff
asserts that a decision of the Commonwealth Court of
Pennsylvania in a case that he filed in state court, which
mirrored this case, renders this Court's dismissal of his
Complaint a mistake or inadvertence within the contemplation
of Rule 60(b). ECF No. 40 ¶ 14. We are not convinced.
means of the instant suit, Plaintiff sought, inter
alia, to attack the validity of the forfeiture
proceedings in state court which occurred in 2003, alleging
that he was never provided notice of those proceedings. This
Court held that Plaintiff's attempted attack on the
forfeiture proceedings in state court was barred by the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine. ECF No. 8 at 9; ECF No. 10
at 4 - 5. This precise holding was affirmed by the United
States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. ECF No. 30-2
at 4 - 5.
state court proceedings, which Plaintiff initiated on July
23, 2015, the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas
dismissed, before service, the complaint that Plaintiff filed
therein as frivolous, finding the claims, including the claim
concerning the forfeiture proceeding, to be either
time-barred or barred by res judicata. Plaintiff appealed to
the Commonwealth Court. On September 27, 2016, the
Commonwealth Court affirmed in part and vacated in part. ECF
No. 40-1. The Commonwealth Court vacated in part, finding
that Plaintiff's claim regarding the lack of notice of
the forfeiture proceedings was not frivolous because under
state law, apparently a statute of limitations analysis is
not proper with respect to this claim. Id. at 8 - 9
to see how a state court's adjudication of this claim
concerning the alleged due process failings of the forfeiture
proceedings, even if the claim is identical to the claim
raised in the Complaint that was filed in this Court and
dismissed by this Court, renders this Court's dismissal
erroneous, mistaken or inadvertent within the meaning of Rule
60(b). Whatever the Commonwealth Court's finding, it does
not speak to or otherwise call into question, this
Court's holding that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine
bars Plaintiff's complaints about the state court
forfeiture proceeding in this federal Court. Nor is it
surprising that the Commonwealth Court's holding has
nothing to say about the federal doctrine concerning federal
courts and their relation to state courts, which is what the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine concerns, where such
concerns are not implicated by state courts acting in an
appellate capacity or otherwise to other state courts.
Furthermore, even if accepting for the sake of argument that
the Commonwealth Court's decision constitutes newly
discovered evidence within the meaning of Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b),
the Commonwealth Court's decision has no impact on this
Court's holding that Rooker-Feldman barred
Plaintiff's claims concerning the forfeiture proceedings.
Accordingly, the Rule 60(b) Motion is hereby DENIED.
request to return any filing fees is also DENIED. Goins
v. Decaro, 241 F.3d 260, 261-62 (2d Cir. 2001)
("The [Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995] makes no
provision for return of fees partially paid or for
cancellation of the remaining indebtedness in the event that
an appeal is withdrawn."). Accord Brown v.
Pennsylvania Dept. of Corrections, 271 F.Appx. 280, 283
n.3 (3d Cir. 2008). Plaintiff will not be receiving a refund
and he will continue to have the monies for the remaining
balances deducted from his account.