United States District Court, D. Delaware
Harmon, Hartsville, South Carolina. Pro Se Plaintiff.
J. Connors, Esquire, and Artemio C. Aranilla, II, Esquire,
Marshall, Dennehey, Warner, Coleman & Goggin, Wilmington,
Delaware. Counsel for Defendants.
ANDREW, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
Sandra Harmon appears pro se. She commenced this
lawsuit on July 11, 2018, as a civil Racketeering Influenced
and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO") action and
under 18 U.S.C. §§ 241, 242, which makes criminal
certain civil rights violations, and alleges violations of
her constitutional rights to due process and equal protection
(D.I. 1 at 2). Before the Court is Defendants' motion to
dismiss and Plaintiffs motion for summary judgment. (D.I. 7,
13). The matters have been fully briefed. (See D.I.
8, 9, 14, 15, 18, 20).
alleges Defendants are violating her right to due process and
equal protection by "engaging in arbitrary conduct with
respect to the selling of [her] property at Sheriffs Sale on
June 19, 2018." (D.I. 1 at 2). Plaintiff alleges the
property was unlawfully sold and the conduct of Defendant
Jason Adkins - counsel for the "Sussex County
Administration" - was discriminatory and racist.
(Id. at 2-3). Plaintiff alleges that Adkins'
conduct and those who support it violated RICO. (Id.
explains that the Sussex County Department of Finance alleged
that she owed about on a sewer and water bill that had been
paid in full with a check for about $1, 800. (Id. at
3). Defendants also alleged Plaintiff owed costs, perhaps of
about $8, 300 (see Id. at 3, ¶¶ 8, 10),
from a September 14, 2017 demolition. (Id.)
Plaintiff alleges that the Department added interest to the
total cost of demolition and then attempted to seek a
judgment for the full cost of the demolition. (Id.).
She alleges the sale took place without the filing of a
complaint, service, or notice to her and the other co-owners
of the property. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges,
"[T]he Younger Doctrine does not apply in this
case because Defendants failed to file an initial complaint
in the Superior Court, so technically there is no case filed,
no pending. The S18T-001-002 case number is clearly bogus,
and [its] unlawful generation represents racketeering and
corruption at the hands of Sussex County Officials."
(Id. at 4).
seeks to enjoin Adkins "to halt his misconduct, and find
him in contempt and in violation of court rules of civil
procedure," compensatory damages of $1, 000, 000, and an
order to rescind the Sheriff's sale, among other things.
(Id. at 4-5). She also requests counsel
(Id. at 5).
Court takes judicial notice that on January 12, 2018 (prior
to the time Plaintiff commenced this action), the Department
of Finance of Sussex County filed a monitions suit against
Plaintiff and the other owners for delinquent sewer and water
bills and the demolition lien. Department of Finance of
Sussex County v. Harmon Heirs, Civ. A. No. S18T-01-002
(Del. Super.) at BL-1. Monition was entered on January 18, 2018,
and posted on the property on January 23, 2018. Id.
at BL-6. On May 30, 2018, a notice of the Sheriffs sale was
posted at the physical entrance of the property and, on May
31, 2018, Plaintiff and the other property owners were
notified by certified mail of a Sheriff's sale of the
real estate to take place on June 19, 2018, at 9:30 a.m.
Id. at BL-16, BL-17, BL-18.
8, 2018, Plaintiff filed a motion to dismiss and motion for
injunctive relief in Civ. A. No. S18T-01-002 alleging
violations of her constitutional rights. Id. at
BL-10. On June 18, 2018, the Superior Court denied the motion
and ordered that the sale could proceed as scheduled on June
19 2018. Id. at BL-28. A notice of lis pendens was
filed on June 19, 2018 and on June 21, 2018, Plaintiff filed
a motion to invalidate and to dismiss. Id. at BL-30.
The property was sold to the highest bidder; Plaintiff filed
an objection to the sale, and then an amended notice of
objection. Id. at BL-35, BL-36, BL-44. On August 9,
2018, Plaintiff filed a motion to dismiss. Id. at
BL-51. On November 7, 2018, the Superior Court stayed the
matter while awaiting resolution of the related federal civil
cases Plaintiff had filed here, Civ. No. 17-1817-RGA and the
instant case, Civ. No. 18-1021-RGA. Id. at BL-51.
Plaintiff then filed a petition for a writ of mandamus in the
Delaware Supreme Court to compel the Superior Court Judge to
dismiss S18T-01-002. Id. at BL-53, BL-56. The
Delaware Supreme Court dismissed the petition. Id.
at BL-57. The most recent filings in the Superior Court case
are an affidavit of non-redemption filed on June 19, 2019,
and an amended writ filed July 11, 2019. Id. at
move to dismiss on the grounds that the Court must abstain
under the Younger abstention doctrine because there
remains pending an underlying matter in Delaware State Court
that continues to be actively litigated on identical or
related issues. (D.I. 7). Plaintiffs opposition to the motion
does not address the Younger abstention doctrine
other than to state that it is clearly inapplicable. Instead,
she asks the Court to explore the "unclean hands
theory" and the "continuing violation theory."
abstention is not analyzed under either Rule 12(b)(1) or
12(b)(6), see Knox v. Union Twp. Bd. of Educ., 2015
WL 769930, at *5 n.7 (D.N.J. Feb. 23, 2015), but
"[dismissal on abstention grounds without retention of
jurisdiction is in the nature of a dismissal under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)," Gwynedd Properties, Inc. v.
Lower Gwynedd Twp., 970 F.2d 1195, 1206 n. 18 (3d Cir.
1992). Hence, "courts [in the District of New Jersey]
have treated [a motion to dismiss on the basis of]
Younger abstention as a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to
dismiss," see, e.g., Tobia v. Lakewood Bd. of
Educ., 2017 WL 1206010, at *3 (D.N.J. Mar. 31, 2017),
"in that matters outside of the pleadings are not to be
considered," see Knox, 2015 WL 769930, at *5
n.7. The Court, however, may take judicial notice of court
documents. Gwynedd Properties, Inc., 970 F.2d at