United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
RICHARD J. SILVERBERG
CITY OF PHILADELPHIA et al.
BARCLAY SURRICK, J.
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
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND 
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”). (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.)
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. (Compl. ¶
27; State Case Dkt., entry dated 6/3/2008, ECF No. 5-5.)
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.)
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.)
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. 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.). That Petition is currently pending.
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
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
(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.)
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.)
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.)
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. (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