Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Silverberg v. City of Philadelphia

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

August 27, 2019

RICHARD J. SILVERBERG
v.
CITY OF PHILADELPHIA et al.

          MEMORANDUM

          R. BARCLAY SURRICK, J.

         Presently before the Court are Plaintiff Richard J. Silverberg's Motion for Preliminary Injunction (“Injunction Motion, ” ECF No. 3), Motion for Temporary Restraining Order (“TRO Mot.”) (ECF No. 5), and Amended Motion for TRO (“Am. TRO Mot., ECF No. 11). Plaintiff's Motions and his claims in this action arise from efforts by the City of Philadelphia (the “City”) to collect on a judgment in its favor and against Silverberg and his former law firm for multiple years of unpaid business privilege and wage taxes, plus penalties and interest. For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff's Motions for will be denied.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND [1]

         Silverberg is an attorney and formerly the sole principal at the law firm of Richard J. Silverberg & Associates, P.C. (“Silverberg P.C.”). (Compl. ¶¶ 1, 12.) In addition to the City, the other Defendants in this action are several attorneys employed in the City Solicitor's Office, Law Department, or Department of Revenue during the time relevant to this action (the “City Defendants”).[2] (Id. ¶¶ 4-10, 15-21.) In addition, Plaintiff names as Defendants the law firm Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP (“Linebarger”), which has served as outside counsel for the City, and Christopher W. Dean, Esquire, an attorney with the Linebarger firm. (Id. ¶¶ 3, 11, 14, 22.)

         In March 2008, the City filed a Complaint in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, seeking a judgment against Silverberg and Silverberg, P.C. for unpaid business privilege and wage taxes, plus penalties and interest, for certain periods between 1992 and 2004. (Id. ¶ 26; see also, Compl., City of Phila. v. Richard J. Silverberg & Assoc., PC, et al., No. 080301510 (Phila. Cty. Ct. Com. Pl.) (the “State Case”), ECF No. 5-1.) Silverberg and his firm did not respond to the City's Complaint in the State Case and, on June 3, 2008, a default judgment in the amount of $310, 586.53 was entered against Silverberg and Silverberg, P.C.[3] (Compl. ¶ 27; State Case Dkt., entry dated 6/3/2008, ECF No. 5-5.)

         On or about September 25, 2008, the City filed a Praecipe for Writ of Execution in Attachment against Silverberg P.C.'s banks, Commerce Bank and Wachovia Bank, and the Writ was then served on the banks by the Sheriff. (Compl. ¶ 28; State Case Dkt., entries dated 9/25/2008 and 10/9/2008.) On or about October 22, and November 8, 2008, the City dissolved the Writs against Commerce Bank and Wachovia Bank, respectively. (Compl. ¶ 30; State Case Dkt., entries dated 10/22/2008 and 11/4/2008.) On June 3, 2013, the City filed a Suggestion of Non-payment, pursuant to 53 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 7183, to continue its lien. (State Case Dkt., entry dated 6/3/2013.)

         Silverberg alleges that the City took no further action to execute on the 2008 judgment until June 15, 2017, when Defendant Dean sent Silverberg a letter advising that Linebarger had been retained to collect the judgment; demanding immediate payment of same, including interest and penalties; and stating that absent payment, the firm would recommend that the City levy or seize Silverberg's property to satisfy the judgment. (Compl. ¶ 32.) In the ensuing months, Silverberg had several communications with Dean concerning a possible resolution of the City's claims, but the matter was not resolved. (Id. ¶ 33-34; Silverberg Aff. ¶ 6, ECF No. 5-3.)

         On or about July 16, 2017, Silverberg filed a Motion for Judgment of Non Pros, or in the Alternative, to Enjoin Enforcement of the Judgment (the “Non Pros Motion”) in the State Case, contending that the City's inaction from 2008 until 2017 constituted a “lack of due diligence” and failure to “proceed with reasonable promptitude.” (Compl. ¶ 35; see also State Case Dkt., entry dated 7/16/2017.) The trial court in the State Case denied Silverberg's Non Pros Motion. (Compl. ¶¶ 37-38.) On April 4, 2019, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania affirmed.[4] See City of Phila. v. Richard J. Silverberg & Assoc., P.C., No. 1783 C.D. 2017, 2019 WL 1502343 (Pa. Commw. Ct. Apr. 4, 2019) (affirming and adopting opinion of State Case trial court). On July 1, 2019, Silverberg filed a Petition for Allowance of Appeal in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, to which the City filed an Answer. See Dkt., City of Phila. v. Richard J. Silverberg & Assoc., No. 345 EAL 2019 (Pa.).[5] That Petition is currently pending. Id.

         On May 14, 2018, while Silverberg's above-noted appeal was pending, the City again filed a Suggestion of Non-payment, pursuant to 53 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 7183, to continue its lien. (State Case Dkt., entry dated 5/14/2018.) After the Commonwealth Court affirmed the denial of Silverberg's Non Pros Motion, Silverberg exchanged a series of emails with attorneys in the City Solicitor's office regarding the unpaid tax judgments. On April 9, 2019, Silverberg sent an email to Jane Istvan, Chief Deputy City Solicitor, Appeals Unit, in which he expressed his view that the City was “improperly utilizing [unpaid tax] judgments (and the associated [interest and penalties]) as the equivalent of a bond or other investment” by “sitting on judgments for a period of years and then selectively enforcing them.” (Compl. ¶ 44; TRO Mot. 6.) In response, Defendant Diffily sent Silverberg and email stating:

The [Commonwealth Court] opinion supports the City's view that it not only can, but should, pursue collection of tax delinquencies, particularly where such monies finance important public initiatives that benefit Philadelphia's citizens.

(Compl. ¶ 45.) Subsequently, Diffily advised Silverberg that Drew Salaman, Esquire, of the Salaman/Henry law firm would be handling collection of the judgment. (Id. ¶ 46.) On April 17, 2019, Salaman sent Silverberg a series of emails stating that the City was then demanding a total of $276, 400.93, inclusive of interest and penalties, and advising Silverberg to add 6% simple annual interest from the date of entry of the State Case judgment to the present. (Id. ¶ 47.) On or about April 23, 2019, Silverberg sent Salaman and Diffily an email attaching a draft of the Complaint that Silverberg ultimately filed in this action and advising that he was prepared to file the Complaint in this Court later that week. (Id. ¶ 48.) On or about April 29, 2019, Defendant Cortes sent Silverberg a letter stating, inter alia, that the City regarded his draft Complaint as “baseless, frivolous, and unreasonable, ” and advising that if he proceeded to file such an action, the City would “vigorously contest it and seek sanctions from the federal court.” (Id. ¶ 49.)

         During the ensuing approximately two months, Silverberg and the City were engaged in certain discovery disputes in the State Case, the details of which are not relevant to the instant Motions. (See Id. ¶¶ 50-55.) The City also continued its efforts to collect on the State Case judgment and made a series of escalating settlement demands to Silverberg. (Id. ¶¶ 56-60.)

         On June 20, 2019, Silverberg commenced the instant action, asserting claims against all Defendants under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”), 18 U.S.C. § 1961 et seq., and common law. Silverberg's ten-count Complaint alleges the following claims: RICO - obstruction of justice, 18 U.S.C. § 1951 (Count I); RICO - obstruction of justice, 18 U.S.C.§ 1512 (Count II); RICO - obstruction of justice, 18 U.S.C. § 1503 (Count III); RICO - mail and wire fraud, 18 U.S.C. § 1341, 1343 (Count IV); RICO - conspiracy, 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d) (Count V); abuse of process (Count VI); fraud (Count VII); negligent misrepresentation (Count VIII); intentional infliction of emotional distress (Count IX); and civil conspiracy (Count X). (See generally, Compl.)

         Although Silverberg filed the Complaint on June 20, 2019, the Complaint was not served on the City and City Defendants until on or about August 13, 2019.[6] (City Opp. to TRO Mot. 2, ECF No. 9.) Contemporaneous with service of the Complaint on the City and City Defendants, Silverberg filed the instant Injunction Motion. The Injunction Motion seeks to enjoin the Defendants “from any further collection and/or enforcement, including any discovery and/or related ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.