United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
Joseph F. Leeson, Jr., United States District Judge
14, 2018, Plaintiff Gregory William Moran, proceeding pro
se, filed a Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983
in the United States District Court for the Western District
of Louisiana against the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, the
Clerk of Court for Berks County, “Court Clerk, ”
and the Bossier Police Department. He also filed a Motion for
Leave to Proceed In Forma Pauperis and a
“Motion for $1.5 Million Settlement.” ECF Nos. 2,
4. By Order entered on May 17, 2018, the Western District of
Louisiana granted Moran leave to proceed in forma
pauperis. ECF No. 6. By Order entered on May 29, 2018,
the Western District of Louisiana transferred the case to
this Court. ECF No. 8. For the following reasons, the Court
dismisses Moran's Complaint and denies his “Motion
for $1.5 Million Settlement.”
dockets reflect that on February 13, 2014, in the Court of
Common Pleas for Berks County, Pennsylvania, Moran pled
guilty to one count of criminal mischief-damage property.
See Commonwealth v. Moran, Docket No.
CP-06-CR-003193-2014 (Berks Cty. Ct. C.P. 2006). He was
sentenced to a year of probation and was directed not to have
any “contact with Amanda Moran except for custody
exchanges and custody matters.” Id. On
September 1, 2015, a Motion and Order for Bench Warrant was
filed; and on January 21, 2016, the Honorable Scott D. Keller
granted the motion to revoke Moran's probation.
Id. Moran was again sentenced to probation.
Id. Subsequently, on February 29, 2016, another
Motion and Order for Bench Warrant was filed. Id. On
April 12, 2016, Moran's probation was revoked and he was
sentenced to no less than 48 days and no more than 18 months
of confinement. Id. The Superior Court of
Pennsylvania affirmed the trial court's judgment on
February 8, 2017. See Commonwealth v. Moran, 657 MDA
2016 (Pa. Super. Ct. Feb. 8, 2017).
Complaint that Moran has filed in this matter is vague and
fails to set forth any facts alleging how each named
Defendant violated his rights. Moran alleges: “Wrongful
incarceration in two states, Reading Pennsylvania &
Louisiana, Bossier.” Compl. 3, ECF No. 1. He states
that he was “in jail for 50 days which equal 3 million
dollars [due] to the fact that is the rate [per] hour for
incarceration.” Id. at 4. Moran has attached
as exhibits to his Complaint a copy of a brief he filed in
the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, raising various
assignments of procedural and substantive error relative to
his criminal proceedings in Pennsylvania. Ex. 1-8, ECF No.
1-2. He has also attached a copy of another brief filed in
the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, raising various
assignments of error relative to a dependency petition filed
on behalf of his son. Id. at 13-23. As relief, Moran
requests $1.5 million. Compl. at 4.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Moran has been granted leave to proceed in forma
pauperis, his Complaint is subject to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B)(ii), 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). “[M]ere conclusory
statements do not suffice.” Id. The Court may
also dismiss claims based on an affirmative defense if the
affirmative defense is obvious from the face of the
complaint. See Ray v. Kertes, 285 F.3d 287, 297 (3d
Cir. 2002); see also McPherson v. United States, 392
Fed.Appx. 938, 943 (3d Cir. 2010). Furthermore, the Court may
consider matters of public record. Buck v. Hampton Twp.
Sch. Dist., 452 F.3d 256, 260 (3d Cir. 2006). As Moran
is proceeding pro se, the Court construes his
allegations liberally. Higgs v. Att'y Gen., 655
F.3d 333, 339 (3d Cir. 2011).
8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires a
complaint to contain “a short a plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
A district court may sua sponte dismiss a complaint
that does not comply with Rule 8 if “the complaint is
so confused, ambiguous, vague, or otherwise unintelligible
that its true substance, if any, is well disguised.”
Simmons v. Abruzzo, 49 F.3d 83, 86 (2d Cir. 1995)
(quotations omitted). This Court has noted that Rule 8
“requires that pleadings provide enough information to
put a defendant on sufficient notice to prepare their defense
and also ensure that the Court is sufficiently informed to
determine the issue.” Fabian v. St. Mary's Med.
Ctr., No. Civ. A. 16-4741, 2017 WL 3494219, at *3 (E.D.
Pa. Aug. 11, 2017) (quotations omitted).
Claims Seeking Review of State Rulings
extent that Moran raises any claims seeking review of rulings
entered by the state courts in his criminal proceedings and
the dependency proceedings, this Court lacks jurisdiction to
do so. Pursuant to the Rooker-Feldman doctrine,
“federal district courts lack jurisdiction over suits
that are essentially appeals from state-court
judgments.” Great W. Mining & Mineral Co. v.
Fox Rothschild LLP, 615 F.3d 159, 165 (3d Cir. 2010).
Based on that principle, the Rooker-Feldman doctrine
deprives a federal district court of jurisdiction over
“cases brought by state-court losers complaining of
injuries caused by state-court judgments rendered before the
district court proceedings commenced and inviting district
court review and rejection of those judgments.”
Id. at 166 (quotations omitted). Therefore, to the
extent Moran seeks review and reversal of any state court
judgments, this Court lacks jurisdiction over such claims.
Claims Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983
state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the
violation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of
the United States, and must show that the alleged deprivation
was committed by a person acting under color of state
law.” West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).
As discussed below, Moran's Complaint fails to set forth
a plausible claim for relief against any of the named
initial matter, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania is not a
“person” subject to liability under § 1983
and, in any event, is entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity
from Moran's claims. See Will v. Mich. Dep't of
State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 65-66 (1989); Benn v.
First Judicial Dist. of Pa., 426 F.3d 233, 241 (3d Cir.
2005); Vu v. City of Phila., No. 10-0953, 2012 WL
1222628, at *7 (E.D. Pa. Apr. 11, 2012). The Complaint also
fails to state a claim against the Clerk of Court for Berks
County, the “Court Clerk, ” and the Bossier
Police Department because nothing in the Complaint describes
how these Defendants were responsible for violating
Moran's rights, whether due to their own misconduct or
their deliberate indifference to known deficiencies in a
policy or procedure that violated Moran's rights. See
Barkes v. FirstCorr. Med., Inc., 766 F.3d 307,
320 (3d Cir. 2014), reversed on other grounds,
Taylor v. Barkes, 135 S.Ct. 2042 (2015). Therefore,
as pled, the ...