United States District Court, D. Delaware
Decided March 19, 2015.
Kathleen Morgan, Plaintiff, Pro se, Landenberg, Pennsylvania.
For Defendant: Neal J. Levitsky, Esquire, Fox Rothschild LLP, Wilmington, Delaware.
Sue L. Robinson, District Judge.
Plaintiff Kathleen Morgan (" plaintiff" ) proceeds pro se. She filed this lawsuit on October 17, 2014, followed by an amended complaint on November 14, 2014, seeking to reverse and remand decisions of the Delaware State Courts. (D.I. 1, 5) In addition, plaintiff alleges fraud and trespass. The parties are diverse and the court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Presently before the court is the motion to dismiss of defendant Geoffrey Scott (" defendant" ) and plaintiff's opposition thereto. (D.I. 6) Plaintiff also moves for leave to file electronically and requests counsel for the dismissed plaintiff corporation Turkeys Inc. (" Turkeys" ). (D.I. 3, 9) For the following reasons, the court will grant defendant's motion and will deny plaintiff's motions.
The parties were involved in litigation in the Delaware courts. On December 6, 2011, defendant filed suit against plaintiff and Turkeys in the Superior Court of the State of Delaware in and for New Castle County, raising claims of breach of contract, fraud, negligence and intentional misrepresentation, breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing, negligent and/or fraudulent inducement in connection with numerous loans defendant made to plaintiff and Turkeys, and mutual mistake. See Scott v. Morgan, Civ. No. N11C-12-066 CHT, (Del. Super.) (" the Scott action" ). The parties have known each for several decades and, beginning in 1991, defendant occasionally would loan money to plaintiff and her business entities, Turkeys and Cindee, Inc., to assist in their acquisition or operation of several Capriotti's Sandwich Shop franchises in Delaware. Morgan v. Scott, 2014 WL 4698487, at *1 (Del. 2014). Trial commenced in September 2013 and, at the close of evidence, defendant moved for judgment as a matter of law as to his claim of mutual mistake. The Superior Court granted the motion and ordered plaintiff and Turkeys to pay restitution to defendant in the amount of $318,000. (D.I. 6, exs. A, B) Plaintiff appealed and, on September 22, 2014, the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed the Superior Court's October 17, 2013 order that had granted defendant's motion for judgment as a matter of law. See Morgan v. Scott, 2014 WL 4698487. Plaintiff also filed a motion for a new trial in the Scott action, denied by the Superior Court on October 27, 2014. See Scott v. Morgan, 2014 WL 5713191 (De. Super. 2014). In the meantime, while the Scott action was pending on appeal, plaintiff initiated a lawsuit against defendant on March 7, 2014, in the Superior Court of the State of Delaware in and for New Castle County, Morgan v. Scott, Civ. No. N14C-03-017 FWW (Del. Super.) (" the Morgan action" ). Defendant moved to dismiss pursuant to Superior Court Rules 12(b)(6) and 13(a), and the action was dismissed with prejudice on July 11, 2014. (D.I. 7, ex. D)
Plaintiff asks this court to reverse and remand the October 17, 2013 Superior Court judgment in the Scott action. Plaintiff was represented by counsel in the Scott action up to and including trial of the matter, and proceeded pro se thereafter when she was unable to pay her attorney. Plaintiff alleges that, as a pro se litigant, she was denied the full extent of judicial process.
The amended complaint makes reference to an order that denied plaintiff's motion to stay a March 14, 2014 sheriff's sale of restaurant equipment. Defendant had obtained a writ of levy to satisfy the Superior Court judgment. The amended complaint alleges that the motion was denied based upon defendant's representations that Turkeys was not a party to the appeal. Plaintiff believed that Turkeys was a party on appeal and, while not clear, seems to allege that Turkeys had a right to counsel pursuant to the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution.
In addition, the amended complaint alleges fraud and trespass. Plaintiff alleges that she reached an agreement in a case filed against her in the Delaware Court of Chancery, No. 6495, and that defendant interfered in the agreement and diverted funds which barred the settlement and enabled entry of judgment in a landlord/tenant action filed in the Justice of the Peace Court of the State of Delaware in and for New Castle County against Turkeys, Limestone Valley Enterprises, LLC. v. Turkey's Inc., No. JP13-14-006891 (Del. J.P. Ct. 2013) (" the Limestone action" ). The amended complaint states that the case is now in the eviction stage. Plaintiff alleges that the Justice of the Peace Court used the October 17, 2013 Superior Court judgment to support its October 20, 2014 order of judgment. ( See D.I. 5, ex. I) The amended complaint alleges that questionable legal writs of attachments without the right to title of property and fraudulent letters of termination of franchise were used in the Limestone action. Plaintiff presented her position to a three panel judicial hearing.
Finally, the amended complaint alleges that defendant filed the Scott action for monies not owed by plaintiff " for the " ill-gotten motive of obtaining judgment for use" in the Limestone action and, as a result, plaintiff will lose her restaurant franchise and future income from its operation. Plaintiff appears to seek reversal and remand of the Limestone action judgment, as well as seeking judgment against defendant in the sum of two million dollars.
III. LEGAL STANDARDS
The court must accept all factual allegations in a complaint as true and take them in the light most favorable to a pro se plaintiff. See Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 229 (3d Cir. 2008); Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 167 L.Ed.2d 1081 (2007). Pro se pleadings, " however inartfully pleaded," must be held to " less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-521, 92 S.Ct. 594, 30 L.Ed.2d 652 (1972). If the court can reasonably read pleadings to state a valid claim on which the litigant could prevail, it should do so despite failure to cite proper legal authority, confusion of legal theories, poor syntax ...