Decision Date23 December 1985
Docket NumberCiv. A. No. 85-53.
Citation625 F. Supp. 1288
PartiesJames L. MARTIN, Plaintiff, v. DELAWARE LAW SCHOOL OF WIDENER UNIVERSITY, et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Delaware




James L. Martin, pro se.

Somers S. Price, Jr., of Potter, Anderson & Corroon, Wilmington, Del., for defendant Widener University.

F. Alton Tybout, and Anne L. Naczi, of Tybout, Redfearn, Casarino & Pell, Wilmington, Del., for defendants Polyclinic Medical Center and Philhaven Hosp.

Robert B. Young, and Mary E. Sherlock, of Young & Sherlock, Dover, Del., for defendant Commonwealth Nat. Bank.

Stuart B. Young, of Young, Conaway, Stargatt & Taylor, Wilmington, Del., for defendants Lebanon Valley College, Lebanon County Legal Services, and Messrs. Reilly and Feather.

Paul J. Gelman, and Nancy Gilberg, Philadelphia, Pa., for defendants Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners, Judges Gates and Walter.

Gwendolyn T. Mosley, Deputy Atty. Gen., Harrisburg, Pa., for defendant Dept. of Transp.


FARNAN, District Judge.

Plaintiff, James L. Martin, has brought this action against twelve separate defendants, alleging violations of 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985, and 1986, Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 701 et seq., the Buckley/Pell Amendment to the Educational Rights Act of 1976, 20 U.S.C. § 1232, as well as the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Plaintiff also seeks a declaration of his rights pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201 and 2202, as well as attorneys' fees pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988. He invokes this Court's jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1343 and 1331. Plaintiff also requests the Court to exercise its pendent jurisdiction over state law claims of breach of contract and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Plaintiff alleges numerous causes of action. Plaintiff claims that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation ("D.O. T."), the Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners ("Law Examiners"), the Lebanon County Legal Services Association, James T. Reilly, and John E. Feather (collectively "Lebanon County Defendants"), Judge Thomas Gates, and Judge John Walter, acted under color of state law to deprive Plaintiff of the opportunity to practice law, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and that all other Defendants conspired to deprive Plaintiff of his civil rights, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1985, as well as the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. Plaintiff also alleges that "the state authorities refusal to and neglect to prevent further deprivations" violates 42 U.S.C. § 1986. Plaintiff alleges that the acts of Polyclinic Medical Center ("Polyclinic"), Philhaven Hospital ("Philhaven"), Lebanon Valley College ("L.V.C."), Judge Gates and Judge Walter, in causing Plaintiff's detention in psychiatric hospitals, constituted involuntary servitude in violation of the Thirteenth Amendment. In his "Second Claim for Relief", Plaintiff alleges that all Defendants "made secret unilateral determinations that I was guilty of certain dishonest or fraudulent acts", and "punished" him in violation of Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He also alleges that all Defendants violated the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 701 et seq., by discriminating against him on the basis of his medical history. In his "Third Claim for Relief", Plaintiff alleges that the Law Examiners "waived the privilege of further inquiry into my fitness to practice law" by allowing him to sit for the Bar Exam, that they were estopped from denying him admission to the Bar by their act of publishing his name as a successful candidate, and that they violated State Bar admission rules requiring the examiners to notify applicants of any finding of unfitness to practice. Plaintiff also alleges that Delaware Law School ("D.L.S.") breached its contract with him by incorrectly informing various state Boards of Law Examiners that Plaintiff had falsified a question on his law school admissions application. He alleges that L.V.C. also breached its contract with him by falsifying his academic transcript. He alleges that Commonwealth National Bank ("C.N.B.") wrongfully dishonored his checks. As a "Fourth Claim for Relief", Plaintiff alleges common law defamation of character and intentional infliction of emotional distress by all Defendants. As a "Fifth Claim for Relief", Plaintiff seeks a declaratory judgment that "the unlawful acts set forth herein were and are still being unconstitutionally perpetrated on behalf of the state, and that such acts shall forthwith cease ..." Complaint, Docket No. 21


The relevant facts, as alleged by Plaintiff in his Complaint and various briefs, are as follows. Plaintiff claims that Polyclinic and Philhaven admitted and detained him against his will without cause or hearing. Apparently, this action occurred in 1975. Plaintiff alleges that Philhaven subsequently erroneously informed the Law Examiners that he had voluntarily admitted himself to Philhaven for psychiatric care. He alleges that L.V.C., where Plaintiff had been an undergraduate student, falsified his transcripts and supplied "disinformation" to employees of Polyclinic and Philhaven, which was later given to the Law Examiners. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants James Reilly and John Feather, in their capacities as Lebanon County Legal Services attorneys, acted improperly by agreeing to represent Plaintiff in a proceeding against L.V.C., while they were associates of the law firm which was representing L.V.C. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Judge Gates and Judge Walters improperly "issued orders against him" in his efforts to "get relief from the college's disinformation scheme". Plaintiff alleges that D.L.S. refused to send his transcript to the U.S. Department of Justice, thus preventing him from obtaining full-time employment. Plaintiff alleges that D.L.S. also erroneously concluded that he had falsified his law school application by denying that he had been committed to a mental hospital, and later sent this information to each of the State Boards of Law Examiners to which Plaintiff had applied for admittance. Plaintiff alleges that the Law Examiners refused to admit him to the Bar after he passed the Bar Examination. Plaintiff alleges that the D.O.T. improperly revoked his driver's license in 1981 by relying upon "not sic existent medical reports about a neuro-psychiatric condition", and that C.N.B. wrongfully dishonored his checks following his enrollment in law school after agreeing not to do so.

All defendants except Polyclinic have moved to dismiss. Each motion will be dealt with separately.

I. Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners, Hon. G. Thomas Gates, Hon. John Walter.

These Defendants collectively moved to dismiss on eight separate grounds: (1) improper venue; (2) lack of in personam jurisdiction; (3) the Board of Law Examiners is not a person for purposes of 42 U.S.C. § 1983; (4) failure to join an indispensable party; (5) absolute judicial immunity; (6) the Eleventh Amendment bars Plaintiff's claim for damages; (7) failure to state a claim; and (8) failure to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1985 and 1986. The Court finds that venue in this district is improper, and that this Court cannot exercise in personam jurisdiction over these Defendants. Therefore, the Court does not reach the other grounds raised.

A. Venue.

Venue in this action is controlled by 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b), which provides:

A civil action wherein jurisdiction is not founded solely on diversity of citizenship may be brought only in the judicial district where all defendants reside or in which the claim arose, except as otherwise provided by law.

Subject matter jurisdiction in this case is not founded solely on diversity of citizenship, but rather is conferred by 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1343. The Complaint indicates that all Defendants except D.L.S. reside in the State of Pennsylvania. Also, Plaintiff's allegations indicate that any claim he has against the Law Examiners, Gates or Walter arose in Pennsylvania. Therefore, venue in the District of Delaware is improper.

B. In Personam Jurisdiction.

Plaintiff attempted service of process upon these defendants by certified mail at their residences in Pennsylvania. In order for this Court to exercise jurisdiction over these defendants, this service must be adequate under the provisions of F.R.C.P. Rule 4(e) or 4(f).

Under Rule 4(f), service of process, by registered mail or otherwise, is limited to the territorial boundaries of the state in which the District Court is located, unless a federal statute or the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allow otherwise. The only applicable federal statutes here are the civil rights statutes under which Plaintiff alleges this Court's subject matter jurisdiction. However, although these statutes confer subject matter jurisdiction on the Federal Courts, they do not confer in personam jurisdiction. See Mabery v. Garrison, 405 F.Supp. 134, 138 (E.D.N.C. 1975). Neither do they authorize national service of process. See Safeguard Insurance Co. v. Maxwell, 53 F.R.D. 116, 117 (E.D.Pa.1971). Thus, since Plaintiff served these Defendants outside Delaware, Rule 4(f) is inapplicable.

Rule 4(e) allows out-of-state service of process by mail whenever a statute or rule of court of the state in which the District Court sits so provides. Apparently, the only applicable state statute here would be the Delaware Longarm Statute, 10 Del.C. § 3104. That statute provides for jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant who:

(1) transacts any business or performs any character of work or service in this state; (2) contracts to supply services or things in this state; (3) causes tortious injury in this state by an act or omission in this state; (4) causes tortious injury in this state or outside of this state by an

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