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Fake v. Commonwealth

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

October 26, 2017

BRANDON L. FAKE, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM

          Gerald J. Pappert, Judge

         Brandon L. Fake brings this civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania, and Judges Diane R. Thompson and Margaret T. Murphy. Fake raises various claims associated with contentious divorce, support and custody proceedings between Fake and his ex-wife that began in 2004. For the reasons set forth below, the Court dismisses the Amended Complaint with prejudice.

         I.

         In 2016, Fake filed a complaint in this Court in which he sued 44 defendants based on an alleged conspiracy dating back to 2004 in the Philadelphia Courts. Fake v. Philadelphia Ct. of Common Pleas, No. 16-3893 (E.D. Pa. filed July 18, 2016.) On July 27, 2016, the Court dismissed Fake's complaint and allowed him to file an amended complaint. Fake v. Philadelphia Ct. of Common Pleas, No. 16-3893, 2016 WL 4039654, at *5 (E.D. Pa. July 27, 2016). In its Memorandum, the Court advised Fake that he lacked standing to raise claims on behalf of third parties; that he could not assert claims under federal criminal statutes or claims based on alleged deficiencies in the investigation and prosecution of his ex-wife; that most of his claims were barred by Pennsylvania's two-year statute of limitations; he had not provided sufficient allegations to properly plead a claim of conspiracy; the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas is not subject to liability under § 1983; and that judges are absolutely immune from liability under § 1983 unless they act in the clear absence of all jurisdiction. Id. at 3-5.

         Fake then filed an amended complaint naming 28 defendants. Fake v. Philadelphia Ct. of Common Pleas, No. 16-3893 (E.D. Pa. filed Aug. 29, 2016). On October 17, 2016, the Court dismissed Fake's claims under 18 U.S.C. § 242 and 42 U.S.C. § 1985(2), again telling Fake that the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas is not subject to liability under § 1983, and that he had not pled a plausible conspiracy claim. Fake v. Philadelphia Ct. of Common Pleas, No. 16-3893, 2016 WL 6071365, at *2-8 (E.D. Pa. Oct. 17, 2016). The Court provided Fake “leave to file a second amended complaint in the event it is possible for him to state a timely claim against a proper defendant who is not entitled to immunity.” Id. at *8.

         Fake subsequently filed a second amended complaint naming the City of Philadelphia, Dianne Fake (his ex-wife), Under Secretary of the Navy Patrick Murphy, and four judges who served on the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas during the relevant time period. Fake v. Philadelphia Ct. of Common Pleas, No. 16-3893 (E.D. Pa. filed Nov. 21, 2016). On December 21, 2016, the Court dismissed the second amended complaint. Fake v. City of Philadelphia, No. 16-3893, 2016 WL 7429009, at *6 (E.D. Pa. Dec. 21, 2016). Fake had again failed to state a conspiracy claim and had not stated a basis for a claim against the City of Philadelphia. Id. at *3-6. The Third Circuit affirmed the ruling. Fake v. City of Philadelphia, __ F. App'x __, No. 17-1173, 2017 WL 3601248 (3d Cir. Aug. 22, 2017).

         Undeterred, Fake filed this case. On August 11, 2017, the Court received Fake's initial complaint and motion to proceed in forma pauperis. On August 28, 2017, the Court granted Fake leave to proceed in forma pauperis, dismissed the complaint, and allowed him to file an amended complaint within thirty (30) days. (ECF No. 4.) He filed a 33-page Amended Complaint and 759 pages of exhibits on September 29, 2017. (ECF No. 6.)

         In his Amended Complaint, Fake contends that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania, and Judges Margaret Murphy and Diane Thompson have violated his rights to due process and equal protection throughout proceedings related to custody of Fake's children. (Am. Compl. at 2.) Fake provides a detailed timeline of events, ranging from August 9, 2016 to September 25, 2017, that he alleges have occurred in those proceedings. (Id. at 5-31.) Overall, Fake is unhappy about various rulings that have been made in the support proceedings by Judges Murphy and Thompson.

         II.

         As noted above, the Court previously granted Fake leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Accordingly, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) applies, which requires the Court to dismiss the complaint if it fails to state a claim. Whether a complaint fails to state a claim under § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is governed by the same standard applicable to motions to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), see Tourscher v. McCullough, 184 F.3d 236, 240 (3d Cir. 1999), which requires the Court to determine whether the complaint contains “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quotations omitted). Conclusory statements and naked assertions will not suffice. Id. Furthermore, the Court may also consider matters of public record. Buck v. Hampton Twp. Sch. Dist., 452 F.3d 256, 260 (3d Cir. 2006). As Fake is proceeding pro se, the Court construes his allegations liberally. Higgs v. Att'y Gen., 655 F.3d 333, 339 (3d Cir. 2011).

         III.

         A. Claims Under Criminal Statutes

         Fake vaguely contends that the defendants have violated various criminal statutes, including 18 U.S.C. § 2382. As the Court has previously informed Fake, criminal statutes do not provide a basis for civil liability. See Cent. Bank of Dover, N.A. v. First Interstate Bank of Denver, N.A., 511 U.S. 164, 190 (1994) (“We have been quite reluctant to infer a private right of action from a criminal prohibition alone[.].”); see also Chen ex rel. V.D. v. Lester, 364 F. App'x 531, 536 (11th Cir. 2010) (affirming dismissal of claims brought pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 2382); Landes v. Burger, No. 90-7975, 1991 WL 175376, at *2 (E.D. Pa. Sept. 6, 1991) (noting that plaintiff could not bring a civil action pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 2382). Thus, any claims brought pursuant to criminal statutes are dismissed.

         B. Claims Raising Disability, Religion, and ...


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