Himchak v. Dye, CIVIL ACTION NO. 1:14-CV-02394

CourtUnited States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Pennsylvania
Writing for the CourtMEHALCHICK, M.J.
PartiesWILLIAM A. HIMCHAK, III, Plaintiff, v. DANIEL DYE, et al., Defendants.
Decision Date08 April 2016
Docket NumberCIVIL ACTION NO. 1:14-CV-02394

WILLIAM A. HIMCHAK, III, Plaintiff,
v.
DANIEL DYE, et al., Defendants.

CIVIL ACTION NO. 1:14-CV-02394

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA

April 8, 2016


(KANE, J.)
(MEHALCHICK, M.J.)

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

Presently before the Court is pro se Plaintiff William A. Himchak's amended complaint seeking damages and injunctive relief under 42 U.S.C. §1983 against Judges Douglas Herman, Angela Krom, and Judge Carol Van Horn; District Attorney Matthew Fogal, Assistant District Attorney Zachary Mills, Managing Attorney at the Law Offices of Women in Need Meghann O'Reilly Karasic, Attorney Steve Rice of Steve Rice Law, Attorney David R. Erhard, Police Chief David Arnold, and Sargent Matthew Cody. The Defendant Judges have filed a motion to dismiss Himchak's amended complaint.1 (Doc. 18). In addition, while Defendants' motion to dismiss has been pending, Himchak has filed a number of motions, including a motion entitled "Emergency Motion Injunctive Relief" (Doc. 24), a motion seeking a writ of mandamus (Doc. 27), and a motion demanding a hearing on the motion for writ of mandamus. (Doc. 29). For the reasons provided herein, it is respectfully recommended that the motion to dismiss (Doc. 18), be granted and the amended complaint be dismissed. It is further recommended that

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Himchak's motions for injunctive and mandamus relief be denied. (See Doc. 24; Doc. 27; Doc. 29).

I. BACKGROUND

On December 10, 2014, Plaintiff William A. Himchak, proceeding pro se, filed the instant civil rights action (Doc. 1), along with an application to proceed in forma pauperis in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. On December 16, 2014, the Court granted Himchak's motion to proceed in forma pauperis and transferred the complaint to the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). (Doc. 2). In his original complaint, Himchak set forth various federal claims and supplemental state law claims against Deputy Attorney General Daniel Dye, the Pennsylvania State Police, including Lieutenants Craig Bowman and Robert Johnson; the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, including Judges Douglas Herman, Angela Krom, Carol Van Horn, Todd R. Williams, David L. Plum, and Larry G. Pentz; Chief Public Defender Michael Toms, former Public Defenders Scott Thomas and Todd Sponseller; District Attorney Matthew D. Fogal, Assistant District Attorney Zachary I. Mills, and the Public Opinion Newspaper. (Doc. 1).

Months after filing the initial complaint, but prior to the Court conducting its statutorily-mandated screening review, Plaintiff filed a number of unintelligible documents, which appeared to supplement the original complaint received by this Court on December 16, 2014. (See Doc. 5; Doc. 6; Doc. 7; Doc. 9). In light of these filings, the Court directed Plaintiff to file a complete amended complaint in accordance with Rule 8(d)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Doc. 8). On September 18, 2015, Himchak filed a prolix amended complaint, totaling ninety-seven (97) pages, which was replete with unrelated, vituperative, and vague

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charges against a multitude of individuals, entities, and government agencies that appeared to have some involvement or connection with his underlying criminal proceedings in the Court of Common Pleas of Franklin County. (Doc. 15). On October 8, 2015, the Court dismissed Himchak's amended complaint, but afforded him a final opportunity to file a single, unified, legible complaint setting forth factual allegations and legal claims in a manner that could be reviewed by the Court and, if necessary, answered by the Defendants. (Doc. 16).

On November 13, 2015, Himchak filed a four-page amended complaint. (Doc. 17). In his amended complaint, Himchak identifies the following Defendants: Judges Douglas Herman, Angela Krom, and Carol Van Horn; District Attorney Matthew Fogal, Assistant District Attorney Zachary Mills, Managing Attorney at the Law Offices of Women in Need Meghan O'Reilly Karasic, Attorney Steve Rice of Steve Rice Law, Attorney David R. Erhard, Police Chief David Arnold, and Sargent Matthew Cody. It appears that Himchak asserts a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO"), 18 U.S.C. § 1957, and a cause of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of his rights under the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments, arising out of underlying criminal and civil proceedings currently pending in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas.

The Defendant Judges filed a motion to dismiss the amended complaint on November 23, 2015, together with a supporting brief, arguing that dismissal is appropriate here because the amended complaint as lodged runs afoul of Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, fails to state a civil rights conspiracy claim, contains claims against Defendants who are entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity and absolute judicial immunity, and asserts claims against entities that are not considered "persons" under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 18; Doc. 19). On

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January 25, 2016, Himchak filed a brief in opposition to Defendants' motion to dismiss, which largely expounds on the claims set forth in the amended complaint. (Doc. 25). No reply brief has been filed and thus, this matter is now ripe for disposition.2

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

A. RULE 12(B)(6) STANDARD FOR DISMISSALS FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM

Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure authorizes a defendant to move for dismissal of a complaint for "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has 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 (3d Cir. 2008)] and culminating recently with the Supreme Court's decision in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (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 dismiss.

Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 209-10 (3d Cir. 2009).

In 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, 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.

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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. Cal. State Council of Carpenters, 459 U.S. 519, 526 (1983). 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 action will not do." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555. "Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. In Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), the Supreme Court of the United States held that, when considering a motion to dismiss, a court should "begin by identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. In deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court may consider the facts alleged on the face of the complaint, as well as "documents incorporated into the complaint by reference, and matters of which a court may take judicial notice." Tellabs, Inc. v. Makor Issues & Rights, Ltd., 551 U.S. 308, 322 (2007).3

A document filed pro se is "to be liberally construed." Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). A pro se complaint, "however inartfully pleaded," must be held to "less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers" and can only be dismissed for failure to state a claim if it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972). The

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Third Circuit has instructed that if a complaint is vulnerable to dismissal for failure to state a claim, the district court must permit a curative amendment, unless an amendment would be inequitable or futile. Grayson v. Mayview State Hosp., 293 F.3d 103, 108 (3d Cir. 2002).

B. SUA SPONTE DISMISSAL STANDARD4

Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court is obligated to screen a civil complaint in which a prisoner is seeking redress from a governmental entity or an officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a); James v. Pa. Dep't of Corr., 230 F. App'x 195, 197 (3d Cir. 2007). The Court must dismiss the complaint if it "fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1). The Court has a similar obligation with respect to actions brought in forma pauperis and actions concerning prison conditions. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii); 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c)(1). See generally Banks v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 568 F. Supp. 2d 579, 587-89 (W.D. Pa. 2008) (summarizing prisoner litigation screening procedures and standards). "The [C]ourt's obligation to dismiss...

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