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Johnson v. Talton

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

March 22, 2018

MARC JOHNSON, Plaintiff,
v.
JACOB TALTON, VICTORIA ROBINSON, DAN ROBINSON, TERRI DAVIS, CHRYSTAL TINSTMAN, and JENNIFER CHONTOS Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          JOY FLOWERS CONTI JUDGE

         I. Introduction

         A year after consenting to a custody arrangement in state court, Marc Johnson (“plaintiff”) filed a pro se complaint against six defendants-Jacob Talton (“Talton”), Victoria and Dan Robinson (“Robinsons”), Terri Davis (“Davis”), Chrystal Tinstman (“Tinstman”), and Jennifer Chontos (“Chontos”) (collectively “defendants”). (ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff claims defendants conspired to deprive him of custody of his minor child, and premises the court's subject-matter jurisdiction exclusively on diversity of citizenship under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Presently pending before the court are several motions to dismiss the complaint for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. (ECF Nos. 3, 11, and 27.) For the reasons set forth in this opinion, the court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction over this case and will, accordingly, dismiss the complaint.

         II. Background [1]

         Talton is the maternal grandfather of plaintiff's minor child. (ECF. No. 3-1.) Victoria and Dan Robinson are the child's step maternal grandparents. (Id.) Plaintiff, Talton, and the Robinsons reached an agreement regarding the child's custody and signed a consent order entered by a Pennsylvania state court on October 18, 2016. (Id.) Chontos represented Talton, and Tinstman represented the Robinsons in that matter. (Id.) Davis was not a party to the state court proceedings.

         On November 6, 2017, plaintiff initiated the present action against defendants by filing a pro se complaint. (ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff claims the defendants conspired to infringe on his inherent right to have full possession and control of his son. (Id. at 8.) Specifically, plaintiff alleges he permitted Victoria Robinson to have his son until the end of the 2016 school year, but she broke their agreement by going to the state court without plaintiff's permission, and used a false document to obtain custody of plaintiff's son. (Id.) The sole basis for the court's subject-matter jurisdiction, as set forth in the complaint, is diversity of citizenship. (Id. at 5.) To that end plaintiff alleges:

- he is a citizen of Pennsylvania (id.);
- Talton is a citizen of Virginia (id.);
- the Robinsons are citizens of Pennsylvania (id. at 10);
- Davis is a citizen of Texas (id. at 6);
- Tinstman is a citizen of Pennsylvania (id.); and
- Chontos is a citizen of Pennsylvania (id. at 7.)

         On November 28, 2017, Talton and Tinstman filed a motion to dismiss the complaint for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, insufficient service of process, and failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. (ECF No. 3.) On November 29, 2017, the Robinsons filed an answer to the complaint asserting that, in light of the state court consent order, plaintiff's claim is meritless and that the complaint should be dismissed. (ECF No. 10.) On November 29, 2017, Chontos filed three motions to dismiss the complaint-for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, insufficient service of process, and failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted-along with a motion for more definite statement, a motion to strike, and a motion to join in motions filed by Talton and Tinstman. (ECF Nos. 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, and 21.) On December 18, 2017, Davis, acting pro se, filed a motion to dismiss the complaint for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. (ECF No. 27.) On December 26, 2017, plaintiff filed an opposition brief to the aforementioned motions to dismiss. (ECF No. 28.) On January 2, 2018, Chontos filed a reply brief to plaintiff's opposition. (ECF. No. 29.) On January 31, 2018, plaintiff filed a brief in response to Chontos's reply. (ECF No. 32.). On that same date, plaintiff requested entry of default against Davis and Talton, (ECF No. 31, ) which the Clerk entered as to Davis.[2] The issues have been fully briefed and the matter is ripe for disposition.

         III. ...


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