ROY v. TRIDENT INSURANCE AGENCY
OPINION. Signed by Judge Noel L. Hillman on 5/14/2015. (TH, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
Civil No. 14-6369 (NLH/KMW)
TRIDENT INSURANCE AGENCY,
998 W. Landis Ave.
Vineland, New Jersey 08360
Plaintiff Pro Se
Jason J. Sweet, Esquire
Reger Rizzo & Darnall LP
2929 Arch Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19040
Attorneys for Defendant
HILLMAN, District Judge:
Presently before the Court is a motion [Doc. No. 4] to
dismiss filed by Defendant, Trident Insurance Agency (hereafter,
“Trident”), pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6).
se, Frank Roy, filed opposition to the motion.
The Court has
considered the submissions of the parties and decides this
matter pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 78.
For the reasons that
follow, Trident’s motion to dismiss is granted.
In the complaint, Plaintiff alleges that Annmarie Koszowski
of Trident and Monica O’Neill, an attorney, “intentionally
presented a fraudulent affidavit to Superior Court to vacate a
legitimate judgment against Travelers Insurance.”
(Compl. 1.) 1
It appears that Plaintiff previously brought an action in the
Superior Court of New Jersey, Camden County, Law Division
against Travelers Home & Marine Insurance Company (hereafter,
Plaintiff apparently obtained a judgment against
Travelers in the state court action, but Travelers sought to
vacate the judgment on the grounds that Plaintiff served process
on Trident, as an agent of Travelers, even though Trident was
not authorized to accept service on behalf of Travelers.
It further appears that in seeking to vacate the judgment,
Travelers, through its attorney Ms. O’Neill, submitted to the
state court the affidavit from Ms. Koszowski, a Vice President
Plaintiff attached to his opposition papers a copy of the
affidavit from Ms. Koszowski. Although the document is not
submitted in evidentiary form, the Court considers the affidavit
for background information because the complaint itself lacks
factual detail. The Court does not consider the affidavit in
deciding the motion to dismiss.
of Trident, in which Ms. Koszowski states that Trident is an
independent insurance agency and is not a parent, subsidiary or
affiliated corporation of Travelers.
The affidavit further
states that there are no officers, directors, shareholders,
employees or agents of Travelers located at the offices of
Trident who are permitted to accept service of process on behalf
Plaintiff now contends that Ms. Koszowski lied in the
affidavit submitted in the state court action, as Trident
purportedly is an authorized agent of Travelers.
Plaintiff avers that in submitting this allegedly false
affidavit, Ms. Koszowski and Ms. O’Neill “intentionally
conspired to deceive the judicial system by lying under oath.”
(Id. at 1.)
He also avers that Trident’s actions, through Ms.
Koszowski and Ms. O’Neill, constituted intentional
discrimination against Plaintiff, who is purportedly disabled.
(Id. at 2.) 2
Trident moves to dismiss the complaint, arguing that the
pleading fails to comply with the requirements of Fed. R. Civ.
P. 8 in that it fails to contain a short and plain statement of
the claim showing that Plaintiff is entitled to relief.
In the complaint, Plaintiff alleges that he is certified by the
Social Security Administration as disabled, although he does not
specify the nature of his disability. (Compl. 1.)
also argues that Plaintiff’s statement of the legal basis for
his claim is so vague that Trident does not know what statute it
is accused of violating.
Trident assumes that Plaintiff is
asserting a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1981a(a)(2), which it
contends is the “most relevant portion of the Civil Rights Act
of 1991,” but notes that this statute concerns discrimination
against disabled persons in the employment context.
Trident contends, has not alleged any facts demonstrating an
employment relationship with Trident.
Moreover, even assuming
an employment relationship exists, Trident argues that Plaintiff
fails to set forth any facts to suggest that Trident
discriminated against Plaintiff on the basis of a disability.
STANDARD FOR DISMISSAL
In considering whether a plaintiff’s complaint fails to
state a claim, the Court must accept all well-pleaded
allegations in the complaint as true and view them in the light
most favorable to the plaintiff.
Evancho v. Fisher, 423 F.3d
347, 350 (3d Cir. 2005); see also Phillips v. Cnty. of
Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 228 (3d Cir. 2008) (“[I]n deciding a
motion under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), [a district court is] . .
. required to accept as true all factual allegations in the
complaint and draw all inferences from the facts alleged in the
light most favorable to” the plaintiff).
A pleading is
sufficient if it contains “a short and plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Civ. P. 8(a)(2).
A district court, in weighing a motion to dismiss, asks
“‘not whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail but whether
the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 563 n.8,
127 S. Ct. 1955, 167 L. Ed. 2d 929 (2007) (quoting Scheuer v.
Rhoades, 416 U.S. 232, 236, 94 S. Ct. 1683, 40 L. Ed. 2d 90
(1974)); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 684, 129 S.
Ct. 1937, 173 L. Ed. 2d 868 (2009) (“Our decision in Twombly
expounded the pleading standard for ‘all civil actions[.]’”)
First, under the Twombly/Iqbal standard, a
district court “must accept all of the complaint’s well-pleaded
facts as true, but may disregard any legal conclusions.”
v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210-11 (3d Cir. 2009) (citing
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S. Ct. 1937).
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.’”
Fowler, 578 F.3d at 211 (citing
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679, 129 S. Ct. 1937).
“[A] complaint must do more than allege the plaintiff’s
entitlement to relief.”
Fowler, 578 F.3d at 211; see also
Phillips, 515 F.3d at 234 (“The Supreme Court’s Twombly
formulation of the pleading standard can be summed up thus:
‘stating . . . a claim requires a complaint with enough factual
matter (taken as true) to suggest’ the required element.
‘does not impose a probability requirement at the pleading
stage,’ but instead ‘simply calls for enough facts to raise a
reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of’
the necessary element.”) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556, 127
S. Ct. 1955).
“The defendant bears the burden of showing that
no claim has been presented.”
Hedges v. United States, 404 F.3d
744, 750 (3d Cir. 2005).
Finally, a court in reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion must
consider the facts alleged in the pleadings, the documents
attached thereto as exhibits, and matters of public record.
Guidotti v. Legal Helpers Debt Resolution, 716 F.3d 764, 772 (3d
A court may also consider “‘undisputedly authentic
documents if the complainant's claims are based upon these
Id. (quoting Mayer v. Belichick, 605 F.3d 223,
230 (3d Cir. 2010)).
If any other matters outside the pleadings
are presented to the court, and the court does not exclude those
matters, a Rule 12(b)(6) motion will be treated as a summary
judgment motion pursuant to Rule 56.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(d).
The Court finds that the complaint fails to comply with
Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which
requires that a complaint contain “a short and plain statement
of the grounds for the court’s jurisdiction,” as well as “a
short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader
is entitled to relief.”
Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a).
The Court notes
that pro se complaints are to be construed liberally, Erickson
v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94, 127 S. Ct. 2197, 167 L. Ed. 2d 1081
(2007), but a plaintiff must still comply with the requirements
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Gilligan v. Cape May
Cty. Corr., Civ. No. 05-1177, 2006 WL 3454864, at *2 (D.N.J.
Nov. 28, 2006) (“Even though a court will often be more lenient
with pro se litigants, such litigants ‘cannot be excused from
compliance with the plain text of the federal rules and court
orders.’”) (internal citation omitted).
Here, the complaint lacks a “short and plain statement of
the grounds for the court’s jurisdiction.”
Fed. R. Civ. P.
It appears that Plaintiff is attempting to assert
claims under federal law, in which case jurisdiction would exist
under 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
The complaint, however, is devoid of
any statement concerning jurisdiction.
Furthermore, Plaintiff’s complaint fails to contain a
“short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader
is entitled to relief.”
Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2).
does not identify the specific statute under which his claim is
brought, although he avers that he brings this action pursuant
to the “statute of Civil Rights Act 1991 subchapter that
specifies that it is against the law to intentionally
discriminate against a disabled party.”
statute that seems to fit this definition is 42 U.S.C. § 1981a,
which is titled “Damages in cases of intentional discrimination
in employment,” and subsection (a)(2) of the statute provides
for recovery in disability discrimination cases.
See 42 U.S.C.
42 U.S.C. § 1981a, however, does not provide an independent
cause of action.
Rather, this statute sets forth the remedies
available in certain actions, including some claims under the
Americans with Disabilities Act.
See Fatiregun v. City of
Philadelphia, No. Civ. A. 09-601, 2009 WL 3172766, at *6 (E.D.
Pa. Oct. 2, 2009) (“Section 1981a does not, either expressly or
impliedly, create an independent cause of action for employment
discrimination plaintiffs.”); Flax v. Delaware Div. of Family
Servs., No. Civ. A. 03-922, 2008 WL 1758857, at *10 (D. Del.
Apr. 16, 2008) (collecting cases and noting that the “great
weight of authority holds that § 1981a does not create an
independent cause of action.”), aff’d, 329 F. App’x 360 (3d Cir.
Plaintiff therefore cannot assert a claim under Section
1981a absent a primary claim under another substantive act.
Because Plaintiff fails to identify a substantive basis for his
claim, his complaint does not state a claim for relief.
Additionally, even assuming that there was some substantive
basis for Plaintiff’s claim, Plaintiff fails to articulate facts
to support such claim.
Plaintiff contends only that Trident
submitted a fraudulent affidavit in a state court action, and
concludes that such conduct constituted discrimination against
Plaintiff based on his disability.
Plaintiff sets forth no
facts as to how Trident discriminated against Plaintiff based
upon his disability, and his conclusory allegation of
discrimination is insufficient to satisfy the requirements of
Rule 8(a) and Twombly.
Moreover, Plaintiff seeks damages under
Section 1981a, which provides for damages in certain employment
discrimination cases, but the complaint contains no averments
that Plaintiff was employed by Defendant.
In light of Plaintiff’s pro se status, the Court will
provide Plaintiff another opportunity to state his
Plaintiff must provide sufficient factual allegations in
support of his assertion of jurisdiction, as well as support for
his claim to satisfy the pleading requirements under Twombly and
Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a).
Failure to comply with the directives
herein may result in the dismissal of Plaintiff’s claims with
An Order consistent with this Opinion will be entered.
s/ Noel L. Hillman
NOEL L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.
Date: May 14, 2015
At Camden, New Jersey
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