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Talley v. Wetzel

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

August 23, 2019

QUINTEZ TALLEY, Plaintiff
v.
JOHN E. WETZEL, et al., Defendants

          MEHALCHICK MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          MEMORANDUM

          JAMES M. MUNLEY JUDGE

         Before the court for disposition is Magistrate Judge Karoline Mehalchick's Report and Recommendation (hereinafter "R&R") which proposes that we dismiss the plaintiff's pro se civil rights complaint. (Doc. 29). The matter is fully briefed and ripe for disposition.

         Background

         Plaintiff Quintez Talley's current dispute is based on a series of events that occurred in a previous case involving civil rights claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 that was filed against a plethora of defendants. Tally v. Wetzel, No. 3:15CV1170 (M.D. Pa. filed June 15, 2015) (hereinafter "Talley I"). On January 18, 2016, in response to the plaintiff's Talley I complaint, Defendant Attorney Jessica Davis-who represented Defendant Michael Worstell-filed an answer to the plaintiff's complaint. No. 3:15CV1170 (Doc. 51). The case was eventually referred to mediation. (Id. Doc. 52). The mediator filed a notice of settlement on September 8, 2017. (Id. Doc. 95). Based on the notice of settlement filed by the mediator, on October 19, 2017, Judge Mehalchick entered an order that dismissed all claims against Defendant Worstell as moot. (Id. Doc. 96). On November 2, 2017, the plaintiff filed a motion for reconsideration, at which point another attorney, Defendant Caleb Enerson, moved to file the mediation agreement under seal, (Id. Doc. 102). Ultimately, the magistrate judge denied the plaintiff's motion for reconsideration, and accordingly dismissed Defendant Enerson's motion to seal as moot. (Id. Doc. 106). It is against this backdrop that the plaintiff bases his civil rights action. (Doc. 1).

         The plaintiff challenges the validity of the mediation agreement, claiming that Attorney Davis failed to include Defendant Worstell, her client, in her notice of appearance. (Doc. 1, at 4, paragraph 15). Specifically, the plaintiff claims that Attorney Davis failed to enter a "proper appearance pursuant to Rule 5(d)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure." (Doc. 1, at 6, paragraph 29).

         The plaintiff, moreover, avers that when Attorney Enerson moved to file the mediation agreement under seal, he attached the agreement to the motion, therefore violating the express terms of the agreement. (Doc. 1, ¶¶ 33-34). The plaintiff claims that this action deprived him of the ability to pursue "meritorious claims against Defendant Worstell." (Doc. 1, ¶ 35). The plaintiff, therefore, alleges that Defendant Enerson violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (hereinafter "RICO") as well as the plaintiffs First, Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. (Doc. 1, ¶¶46-55). The plaintiff also alleges a slew of state law claims: conspiracy, breach of contract, defamation, "care, custody, and concern of property," promissory estoppel, "fraud/deceit," coercion, and legal malpractice. (Doc. 1, ¶¶ 56-63).

         On, April 22, 2019, the magistrate judge entered an R&R, which recommended that we dismiss the plaintiff's complaint in its entirety pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (Doc. 29). On May 6, 2019, the plaintiff objected the magistrate judge's R&R reasserting the same two arguments averred in the original complaint, yet he also seeks approval to amend his complaint, which brings this case to its current posture. (Doc. 30).

         Jurisdiction

         As this case is brought pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 1961 for violations of the RICO Act, and for violations of the United States Constitution, we have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 ("The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treatises of the United States."). We have supplemental jurisdiction for the plaintiffs conspiracy, breach of contract, defamation, "care, custody, and concern of property," promissory estoppel, "fraud/deceit," coercion, and legal malpractice claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367.

         Legal Standard

         In disposing of objections to a magistrate judge's report and recommendation, the district court must make a de novo determination of those portions of the report against which objections are made. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) (c)(see also Sullivan v. Cuyler, 723 F.2d 1077, 1085 (3d Cir. 1983). The court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge. Henderson v. Carlson, 812 F.2d 874, 877 (3d Cir. 1987). The district court judge may also receive further evidence or recommit the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions. Id.

         The defendant filed its motion to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The court tests the sufficiency of the complaint's allegations when considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion. All well-pleaded allegations of the complaint must be viewed as true and in the light most favorable to the non-movant to determine whether, "'under any reasonable reading of the pleadings, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief.'" Colburn v. Upper Darby Twp., 838 F.2d 663, 665-66 (3d Cir. 1988) (quoting Estate of Bailey by Pare v. Cnty. of York, 768 F.2d 503, 506 (3d Cir. 1985)). The plaintiff must describe "'enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of [each] necessary element" of the claims alleged in the complaint. Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny. 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly. 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007)). Moreover, the plaintiff must allege facts that "justify moving the case beyond the pleadings to the next stage of litigation." Id. at 234-35. In evaluating the sufficiency of a complaint the court may also consider "matters of public record, orders, exhibits attached to the complaint and items appearing in the record of the case." Oshiver v. Levin. Fishbein. Sedran & Berman, 38 F.3d 1380, 1384 n.2 (3d Cir. 1994) (citations omitted). The court does not have to accept legal conclusions or unwarranted factual inferences. See Curay-Cramer v. Ursuline Acad, of Wilmington. Del., Inc., 450 F.3d 130, 133 (3d Cir. 2006) (citing Morse v. Lower Merion Sen. ...


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