United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
MEMORANDUM RE: DEFENDANT RIVERWATCH'S MOTION FOR
case, Plaintiff Daniel King (“King”) alleges that
his Fourteenth Amendment constitutional rights to due process
and equal protection were violated by Defendants Judge
Charles B. Burr (“Burr”) and Riverwatch
Condominium Owner's Association (“Riverwatch,
” and collectively “Defendants”), when
Judge Burr entered orders in ongoing property damage
litigation between King and Riverwatch. The Court previously
granted Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, thereby mooting
Plaintiff's Motion to Dismiss Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss.Presently before the Court is Defendant
Riverwatch's Motion for Counsel Fees.
reasons discussed below, Defendant's motion will be
Factual and Procedural History
litigation on which the present case is based originated in
2008 as a result of an action in the Pennsylvania Court of
Common Pleas of Delaware County before the Honorable Charles
B. Burr initiated by King against Riverwatch. On June 21,
2010, Judge Burr entered judgment in the matter in favor of
Riverwatch on all of King's claims. (ECF No. 9, Am.
Compl. ¶¶ 20; 22). On July 12, 2010, King appealed
from the June 21, 2010 judgment based on his allegation that
the judgment had been entered when Judge Burr did not have
power of authority to exercise jurisdiction over the matter;
the validity of Judge Burr's ruling was affirmed on
appeal to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania. (Am. Compl.
¶ 24; ECF No. 10, Def. Mot. I. ¶ 4). Two weeks
later, on July 28, 2010, Judge Burr entered a dispositive
order granting Riverwatch's preliminary objections and
dismissing all post-verdict motions (“2010
order”). (Am. Compl. ¶ 27). King again appealed to
the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, and his appeal was
denied once more. (ECF No. 11, Def. Mot. II ¶ 16).
years later, on February 21, 2014, Judge Burr conducted a
bench trial that resulted in an assessment of $30, 179.54 of
attorney's fees due by King to Riverwatch. (Am. Compl.
¶ 41). King filed an appeal from the order granting
Riverwatch's request for attorney's fees on March 20,
2014, arguing that the judgment was void because it was
entered before post-trial motions were due. (Am. Compl.
¶¶ 42, 45). Judge Burr's determination was
again affirmed on appeal. (Def. Mot. II ¶ 16).
Thereafter, on April 1, 2014, Judge Burr entered a
dispositive order dismissing King's post-trial motions
(“2014 order”). (Am. Compl. ¶ 46). King
appealed this disposition to the Commonwealth Court of
Pennsylvania, which stayed his motion pending a ruling by the
Pennsylvania Supreme Court. (Def. Mot. II ¶ 16).
has filed approximately forty-eight appeals related to this
litigation. (Def. Mot. II ¶ 15). The substance of his
contentions in these appeals is that Judge Burr had been
divested of jurisdiction, per Pennsylvania's
jurisdictional statutes, at the time he entered the 2010 and
2014 orders, and therefore they must be declared null and
void. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 23-30, 42-49). In these
appeals, as in the instant matter, King asserts that the
enforcement of the 2010 and 2014 orders has deprived him of
“liberty and property rights in violation of due
process and equal protection.” (Am. Compl. ¶¶
commenced his federal suit on May 22, 2017, seeking
declaration of the invalidity of the 2010 and 2014 orders;
injunctive relief prohibiting the enforcement of the 2010 and
2014 orders; and reasonable damages. (ECF 1). On June 12,
2017, Judge Burr filed a Motion to Dismiss based principally
on the Court's lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, and
also asserting alternative theories in support of dismissal.
(ECF 7). King filed an Amended Complaint on June 20, 2017.
(ECF 9). On June 26, 2017, Judge Burr moved to dismiss
King's Amended Complaint on the same grounds. (ECF 10).
On the same day, Riverwatch moved to dismiss King's
Amended Complaint in a separate motion, echoing the lack of
subject-matter jurisdiction based on the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine. (ECF 11). On July 14, 2017,
King filed a Response in Opposition to Defendants' Motion
to Dismiss. (ECF 12). Three days later, on July 17, 2017,
King filed a Motion to Dismiss the Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss, asserting that dismissal of Defendants' motion
was proper under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. (ECF
13). Thereafter, on July 31, 2017, Defendants filed a Reply
in further support of their Motion to Dismiss, emphasizing
the impropriety of retaining jurisdiction over the matter
when the Rooker-Feldman doctrine mandated dismissal.
(ECF No. 14). Finally, King filed a Reply to Defendants'
Answer to his Motion to Dismiss on August 17, 2017. (ECF 14).
This Court granted Defendants' Motion to Dismiss on
August 24, 2017, finding that the Rooker-Feldman
doctrine deprives the Court of subject-matter jurisdiction
over King's claims. (ECF 17). Notably, although
Defendants challenged Plaintiff's Complaint on four
separate grounds,  the Court did not consider the latter
three grounds after finding it did not have subject matter
jurisdiction. (See id.).
before the Court is Riverwatch's Motion for Counsel Fees,
filed on August 31, 2017. (ECF 18). Plaintiff filed a
Response in opposition on September 21, 2017. (ECF
Motion for Counsel Fees grounds its claim against Plaintiff
in 42 U.S.C. § 1988(b) and its claim against
Plaintiff's counsel in 28 U.S.C. § 1927.
42 U.S.C. § 1988(b) provides:
In any action or proceeding to enforce a provision of
sections 1981, 1981a, 1982, 1983, 1985, and 1986 of this
title, title IX of Public Law 92-318, the Religious Freedom
Restoration Act of 1993, the Religious Land Use and
Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000, title VI of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964, or section 13981 of this title, the
court, in its discretion, may allow the prevailing party,
other than the United States, a reasonable attorney's fee
as part of the costs, except that in any action brought
against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in
such officer's judicial capacity such ...