United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
C. Carlson United States Magistrate Judge 
Statement of Facts and of the Case
case comes before us for consideration of two motions to
dismiss filed by the defendants. (Docs. 21 and 26). The
plaintiff, Dennis Klein, who is proceeding pro se, commenced
this action by filing a complaint on April 29, 2019 which
named Met Ed, a Met Ed employee, and the Pennsylvania Public
Utility Commission (PUC) as defendants. (Doc. 1).
Klein's complaint demands a great deal of the reader. The
complaint is 275 pages in length and lacks any formal
structure as mandated by Rule 10, setting forth allegations
in sequentially numbered paragraphs. Instead, the complaint
begins with a brief two-page recitation of grievances that is
largely unaccompanied by any specific, well-pleaded facts.
(Id.) Thus, Mr. Klein cryptically cites to two
federal criminal statutes dealing with wiretapping and
assaults on members of Congress, 18 U.S.C. §§ 351,
2511; alleges a “voilation [sic] of U.S. Constitution,
BOA 4thamendment”; and complains of an
illegal termination of his electrical service by Met Ed.
(Id. at 1-2). Mr. Klein then attaches to this spare
narrative some 273 pages of correspondence, documents, and
excerpts from various reports, opinions, and polemics, all of
which address the perceived dangers of SmartMeter electric
meter technology, which Mr. Klein believes causes cancer as
well as other ailments and may allow for unlawful
surveillance of him and his home. Because of these perceived
dangers, it appears that Mr. Klein attempted to cover or
conceal his electric meter, actions which inspired Met Ed to
write to the plaintiff advising him that obstructing the
electric meter could lead to termination of his electric
service. (Id.) This exchange with Met Ed, in turn,
appears to have inspired Mr. Klein to file the instant
the factual averments in his complaint, Mr. Klein's
prayer for relief is somewhat difficult to understand. We
gather, however, that Mr. Klein would like to have Met Ed
criminally prosecuted. (Id. at 2) (“I iWANT
[sic] THEM CHARGED WITH THE CRIMES AS STATED.”). Mr.
Klein also seems to seek wide-ranging injunctive relief
prescribing what sort of electric meter may be placed on his
home, a guarantee that his electric service will not be
interrupted, and damages in the amount of “$500, 000
dollars give or take.” (Doc. 31 at 3).
time of the filing of this complaint, Mr. Klein paid the
filing fee prescribed by law, and after some halting efforts,
service was effected upon the defendants. These defendants
have now moved to dismiss Mr. Klein's complaint, citing
alleged legal defects in this pleading. (Docs. 21 and 26). At
our direction, Mr. Klein has responded to these motions,
albeit in a somewhat opaque fashion. (Doc. 31). Therefore,
these motions are ripe for resolution.
reasons set forth below, the defendants' motions to
dismiss will be granted without prejudice to Mr. Klein
endeavoring to file a complaint which complies with federal
12(b)(6)-Standard of Review
defendants have moved to dismiss this complaint pursuant to
Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which
provides that a complaint should be dismissed for
“failure to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). With respect to this
benchmark standard for legal sufficiency of a complaint, the
United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has
aptly noted the evolving standards governing pleading
practice in federal court, stating that:
Standards of pleading have been in the forefront of
jurisprudence in recent years. Beginning with the Supreme
Court's opinion in Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), continuing with our
opinion in Phillips [v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224,
230 (3d Cir. 2008)], and culminating recently with the
Supreme Court's decision in Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
__U.S.__, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (2009), pleading standards have
seemingly shifted from simple notice pleading to a more
heightened form of pleading, requiring a plaintiff to plead
more than the possibility of relief to survive a motion to
Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 209-10 (3d
considering whether a complaint fails to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted, the Court must accept as true
all allegations in the complaint and all reasonable
inferences that can be drawn therefrom are to be construed in
the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Jordan v. Fox
Rothschild, O'Brien & Frankel, Inc., 20 F.3d
1250, 1261 (3d Cir. 1994). However, a court “need not
credit a complaint's bald assertions or legal conclusions
when deciding a motion to dismiss.” Morse v. Lower
Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997).
Additionally, a court need not “assume that a . . .
plaintiff can prove facts that the . . . plaintiff has not
alleged.” Associated Gen. Contractors of Cal. v.
California State Council of Carpenters, 459 U.S. 519,
526 (1983). As the Supreme Court held in Bell Atlantic
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), in order to state
a valid cause of action a plaintiff must provide some factual
grounds for relief which “requires more than labels and
conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a
cause of actions will not do.” Id. at 555.
“Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to
relief above the speculative level.” Id.
keeping with the principles of Twombly, the Supreme Court has
underscored that a trial court must assess whether a
complaint states facts upon which relief can be granted when
ruling on a motion to dismiss. In Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662 (2009), the Supreme Court held that, when
considering a motion to dismiss, “[t]hreadbare recitals
of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere
conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Id. at
678. Rather, in conducting a review of the adequacy of
complaint, the Supreme Court has advised trial courts that
[B]egin by identifying pleadings that because they are no
more than conclusions are not entitled to the assumption of
truth. While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a
complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations.
When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court
should assume their veracity and then determine whether they
plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.
Id. at 679.
following Twombly and Iqbal a well-pleaded complaint must
contain more than mere legal labels and conclusions. Instead,
a complaint must recite factual allegations sufficient to
raise the plaintiff's claimed right to relief beyond the
level of mere speculation. As the United States Court of
Appeals for the Third Circuit has stated:
[A]fter Iqbal, when presented with a motion to dismiss for
failure to state a claim, district courts should conduct a
two-part analysis. First, the factual and legal elements of a
claim should be separated. The District Court must accept all
of the complaint's well-pleaded facts as true, but may
disregard any legal conclusions. Second, a District Court
must then determine whether the facts alleged in the
complaint are sufficient to show that the plaintiff has a
“plausible claim for relief.” In other words, a
complaint must do more than allege the plaintiff's
entitlement to relief. A complaint has to “show”
such an entitlement with its facts.
Fowler, 578 F.3d at 210-11.
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