United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
STANLEY J. CATERBONE, Plaintiff,
LANCASTER CITY BUREAU OF POLICE, et al., Defendants.
JEFFREY L. SCHMEHL, JUDGE
Stanley J. Caterbone, a frequent pro se litigant in
this Court,  filed this apparent civil rights action
against 294 defendants, including various federal, state, and
local authorities, based primarily on allegations that the
government has been reading and controlling his mind for
three decades. He titles his filing as a “Preliminary
Injunction for Emergency Relief” (ECF No. 2), which the
Court construes as his Complaint. He has also filed a Motion
for Leave to Proceed In Forma Pauperis. (ECF No. 1.)
On July 21, 2018, Caterbone filed an “Amended
Preliminary Injunction for Emergency Relief” (ECF No.
4), which the Court construes to be an Amended Complaint. For
the following reasons, the Court will grant Caterbone leave
to proceed in forma pauperis and dismiss his
Complaint and Amended Complaint.
noted above, Caterbone has brought suit against 294
defendants, including various federal, state, and local
authorities, as well as various individuals and businesses
within the Lancaster area. Caterbone's Complaint is
voluminous and rambling, totaling 117 pages, including
exhibits. The Amended Complaint consists of 49 pages. The
Complaint and Amended Complaint contain allegations regarding
CIA and FBI programs dating back to the 1940s as well as
events in Caterbone's life for the past 31 years. The
Complaint and Amended Complaint recount Caterbone's
arrests and criminal prosecutions in Lancaster County and
Stone Harbor, New Jersey, in 1987, 2005, and from 2006 to
2017. It is not clear how all of Caterbone's allegations
relate to each other or give rise to claims against the
numerous Defendants, and the Court will not recount all of
extent any harmonizing theme can be gleaned from the
Complaint and Amended Complaint, Caterbone appears to be
alleging that federal, state, and local governments are
conspiring against him, attacking him, torturing him, and
threatening his life and property, thereby violating various
federal criminal and civil rights laws. He further contends
that the Lancaster community has participated in the
conspiracy against him. The basis for these allegations is
Caterbone's contention that, since 1987, he has been a
victim of “organized stalking and/or electronic and
mind manipulation torture” because of his alleged
whistleblowing activities against an international defense
contractor. Among other things, Caterbone claims that
government authorities are “[b]lanketing [his] dwelling
and surroundings with electromagnetic energy [and]
[b]ombarding [his] body with debilitating electronic and mind
manipulation effects.” These attacks have apparently
caused Caterbone to develop telepathy. Caterbone also
mentions that he has been deprived of sleep, had toxic
chemicals introduced into his home, and has been stalked and
mobbed en masse.
appears that Caterbone reported the government's mind
manipulation activity, as well as all of the other incidents
he claims have happened, including perceived personal and
business slights, to authorities, but that his concerns were
not addressed. Caterbone's Complaint and Amended
Complaint also vaguely mention that he has been repeatedly
involuntarily committed over the years, most recently in
2016. He also mentions various incidents of false
imprisonment, with the most recent incident occurring from
November 21 through December 22, 2017, for a stalking
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Court will grant Caterbone leave to proceed in forma
pauperis because it appears that he is incapable of
paying the fees to commence this civil action. Accordingly,
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) and (ii) require the Court
to dismiss the Complaint and Amended Complaint if they are
frivolous or fails to state a claim. A complaint is frivolous
if it “lacks an arguable basis either in law or in
fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325
(1989). It is legally baseless if “based on an
indisputably meritless legal theory, ” Deutsch v.
United States, 67 F.3d 1080, 1085 (3d Cir. 1995), and
factually baseless “when the facts alleged rise to the
level of the irrational or the wholly incredible.”
Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 33 (1992).
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. As Caterbone is proceeding pro se, the
Court construes his allegations liberally. Higgs v.
Att'y Gen., 655 F.3d 333, 339 (3d Cir. 2011).
Rule 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 fail for many of the reasons his previous lawsuits
have not succeeded. Primarily, Caterbone's claims fail
because they are factually frivolous. The general theme of
Caterbone's numerous voluminous filings is that he has
been the victim of telepathic intrusions, government
sabotage, and harassment for approximately three decades
because he acted as a whistleblower and filed various
lawsuits. It appears that Caterbone has linked every adverse
event in his life-arrests and involuntary commitments,
medical and mental health issues, computer problems, and
minor incidents of daily life-to that alleged conspiracy. His
allegations appear to be based on paranoia, delusions of
grandeur, irrational thoughts, and/or fantastic scenarios
that courts have consistently found to lack an arguable basis
in fact. Accordingly, the Court will dismiss the
Complaint and Amended Complaint as factually frivolous.
the Complaint and Amended Complaint, like many of
Caterbone's previous filings, fail to comply with Rule 8
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Among other things,
the Complaint contains details about Caterbone's personal
and family life, explanations of various government programs,
and cites to numerous articles and statutes whose relevance
is often unclear. “It is so excessively voluminous and
unfocused as to be unintelligible” and “[leaves]
the defendants having to guess what of the many things
discussed” forms the basis for the claims against them.
Binsack v. Lackawanna Cty. Prison, 438 Fed.Appx.
158, 160 (3d Cir. 2011) (per curiam). For that reason as
well, the Complaint is subject to dismissal.
to the extent the Complaint and Amended Complaint can be
construed as raising claims under criminal statutes, those
claims fail. Criminal statutes do not generally provide a
basis for a litigant's civil claims, and this Court lacks
the authority to initiate criminal proceedings. 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[.]”); Godfrey v.
Pennsylvania, 525 Fed.Appx. 78, 80 n.1 (3d Cir. 2013)
(per curiam) (“[T]here is no federal right to require
the government to initiate criminal proceedings.”);
Mikhail v. Kahn, 991 F.Supp.2d 596, 636 (E.D. Pa.
2014) (“[I]t is today beyond all reasonable doubt that
the prosecution of violations of federal criminal law in
federal court is a function of the federal government, not
private parties, and federal courts lack the power to direct
the filing of criminal charges[.]” (citations,
quotations, and alteration omitted)), aff'd, 572
Fed.Appx. 68 (3d Cir. 2014) (per curiam). In any event,
Caterbone “lacks a judicially cognizable interest in
the prosecution or nonprosecution of another, ” and has
no right to a ...