United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
ORDER OF DISMISSAL
BISSOON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
reasons that follow, this case will be dismissed for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1915.
George Kostantakis ("Movant") has initiated this
action, pro se, by attaching to his Motion for Leave
to Proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP") a
document titled, "Removal and Cross-Complaint."
Doc. 1-1. Although the filing is not entirely clear, it
appears that Movant purports to have removed state-court
proceedings regarding commercial vehicle-safety citation(s)
issued against him by State Police Officer Roy Brownlee
("Officer Brownlee") on June 22, 2017. See
Doc. 1-2 ("Driver Copy" of "Vehicle Inspection
Report"). The inspection report is the only information
provided by Movant regarding the state
citation(s)/proceedings, although the body of his filing does
reference his having appeared before a state
"magistrate, " identity, whereabouts and timing
unspecified. Doc. 1-1 at ¶ IX. Movant complains that he,
and a 91-year old "disabled vet[eran]" accompanying
him, were treated poorly by Officer Brownlee in connection
with the issuance of citation(s) and the towing of
Movant's non-compliant vehicle. See generally
Id. at ¶¶ V-X. In addition to the presumed
desire to further litigate the state-citation(s) in federal
court, Movant purports to bring a "Cross-Complaint,
" citing his desire to "[p]unish the state and
individuals involved [in] violating the basic human dignity
of one of our veterans, and for ignoring and punishing a
First Responder while in the regular course of
business." Id. at ¶ VII. He also suggests
that the state-actor(s)' treatment of his veteran-friend
violated the Americans with Disabilities Act
("ADA"). Id. at ¶ X.
Court is not unsympathetic, or ungrateful, for Movant's
dedication to the service of persons in need. Cf.
Id. at ¶ V (the citation(s) were issued while
Movant was returning from providing hurricane-relief); Mot.
for Leave to Proceed IFP at ¶¶ 6-7 (Movant is
"an ordained pastor and trustee of a church that has
taken a vow of poverty, " and the church's mission
is to provide services to "disabled and less fortunate
individuals"). Feelings of sympathy and gratitude
notwithstanding, the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction
to preside over this action.
been granted leave to proceed IFP, Movant is subject to the
screening provisions in 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e). See
Atamian v. Burns, 2007 WL 1512020, *l-2 (3d Cir. May 24,
2007) ("the screening procedures set forth in [Section]
1915(e) apply to [IFP] complaints filed by prisoners and
non-prisoners alike") (citations omitted). Among other
things, the statute requires the Court to dismiss any action
in which subject matter jurisdiction is lacking and/or the
movant has failed to state claims upon which relief may be
granted. See Muchler v. Greenwald, 624 Fed.Appx.
794, 796-97 (3d Cir. Aug. 18, 2015).
is clear that, absent unique and narrowly-limited
circumstances not presented here, state-criminal proceedings,
including those related to vehicle-citations, are not
removable to federal court. Clearfield Borough Police
Dept. v. Vora, 2007 WL 2197046, *1 (3d Cir. Aug. 1,
2007) (affirming district court's dismissal of petition
to remove state-traffic-citation proceedings, because IFP
movant's vague allegations of conspiracy did not satisfy
the specific criteria of the civil rights removal statute, 28
U.S.C. § 1443); accord New Jersey v. Jeter,
2015 WL 12564204, *1 (E.D.N.Y. 2015) (same).
are no apparent bases for exercising subject matter
jurisdiction under the removal statutes. As to Movant's
purported "Cross-Complaint, " there is no such
thing under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The closest
analogy, a counterclaim, likewise provides no jurisdictional
inlet. Deutsche Bank Nat'l Trust Co. v. Harding.
655 Fed.Appx. 113, 115 (3d Cir. Jul. 22, 2016) ("a
federal question appearing in a counterclaim is insufficient
to establish federal question jurisdiction") (citation
to quoted source omitted).
even had Movant sought to file his present allegations by way
of an original complaint, he identifies no cognizable bases
for relief. Movant does not level a claim for
wrongful-detention under the Fourth Amendment, and his
allegations do not plausibly support one. All that reasonably
may be inferred from Movant's filing is that Officer
Brownlee issued citation(s) for commercial-vehicle safety
violations. See generally Docs. 1-1 and 1-2. And
while Movant claims to have been "detained" while
the offending-vehicle was towed, there is no allegation or
inference that he (or his passenger) was taken into custody.
Cf. Doc. 1-1 at ¶ VI (alleging that a second
officer on the scene objected to "detaining] the
truck, " he tried to talk Officer Brownlee out
of "g[iving Movant] a ticket, " and he
"thanked [Movant and his passenger] for their
service") (emphasis added). The only other
established-law referenced in Movant's filing, the ADA,
gets him no further. See Doc. 1-1 at ¶ X
(purporting to state ADA-claim on behalf of Movant's
veteran-friend). Even could the statute be stretched so far
(which the Court seriously doubts), Movant has an
insurmountable standing issue, and he cannot properly
represent his veteran-friend "pro se."
Collinsgruv. Palmyra Bd. of Educ. 161 F.3d 225, 232
(3d Cir. 1998) (abrogated on other grounds by Winkelman
v. Parma City Sch. Dist. 550 U.S.
with the foregoing, this action will be dismissed for want of
subject matter jurisdiction. As should be evident from the
discussions above, Movant's pleading-deficiencies cannot
be cured by amendment, and the dismissal will be with
prejudice. In closing, the Court notes that, although Movant
may enjoy no relief in this forum, that is not to say there
are no effective channels through which his grievances may be
brought to light (by way of the media, contacting political
representatives, et cetera). Nor is there any reason
to doubt the veracity, or sincerity, of Movant's efforts
in providing hurricane-relief, and the Court, on the record,
expressly acknowledges its gratitude for his and his
church's good works. Without question, Movant's
efforts make the world a better place.
same time, it also should be appreciated that the regulations
referenced in Movant's inspection report also
serve a valuable public-good, namely, ensuring the safety of
public roadways and their lawful occupants. Cf. Doc.
1-1 (alleging, among other things, that vehicle operated by
Movant had "oil and/or grease leaking from [the] outer
wheel [hub], " air leaking from brake connections,
insecure tarp straps, inoperable brake lamps, and identifying
various failures to record and/or display required
information regarding the operation of a commercial-vehicle).
While this may prove cold comfort to Movant, in the moment,
life all-too-inevitably presents stories to which there are
more than one side. Furthermore, while one law enforcement
officer may, based on the charitable intentions of an
accused, decide to overlook a violation and/or forego a
potential citation, no amount of good works may place an
individual above the law. Cf. Doc. 1-1 (offering no
suggestion that Movant's vehicle was, in fact, compliant
with the various rules and regulations cited in the
action is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE, and the
case has been marked closed.