ROGERS v. MELLMAN et al
OPINION. Signed by Judge Noel L. Hillman on 7/7/2016. (tf, n.m.)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
LUIS G. ROGERS,
CIVIL NO. 16-1832 (NLH/AMD)
MARTIN H. MELLMAN and GOLD
GERSTEIN GROUP, LLC,
Luis G. Rogers
123 Colonial Road
Beverly, NJ 08010
Pro Se Plaintiff
Charles Patrick Montgomery
Douglas F. Johnson
Earp Cohn P.C.
20 Brace Road
Cherry Hill, NJ 08034
Attorneys for Defendants
HILLMAN, District Judge
This case is an offshoot of a case presently before this
The related case, Liberty Bell Bank v. Luis G. Rogers,
et al., C.A. No. 13-7148, involves a fraudulent scheme
orchestrated by Luis G. Rogers through various entities that
Rogers controlled, including LGR, which caused multi-million
dollar losses to Liberty Bell Bank.
On September 22, 2015, the
Court granted summary judgment to Liberty Bell Bank on its
federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act
(hereafter, “RICO”) claim against Rogers and LGR.
also appointed a Receiver, Martin H. Mellman of the Goldstein
Group, LLC, to take over LGR’s day-to-day operations, receive
funds, and pay creditors.
On March 31, 2016, Rogers filed the instant complaint
against Martin H. Mellman and the Goldstein Group, LLC, claiming
that Mellman has been “derelict, negligent and deceitful” in
carrying out his responsibilities as a court-appointed receiver.
(Compl. at 5.)
Specifically, Plaintiff argues Mellman has
failed to manage LGR’s debts, negotiate options for equipment
leases, and sell assets at market value.
(Id. at 6.)
complaint followed numerous instances in which Rogers asserting
the same unsubstantiated claims in opposition to the exercise of
the Receiver’s court-appointed duties.
On April 22, 2016, Defendants moved to dismiss Rogers’
complaint, arguing that it fails to state a claim and that
Defendants are immune from the claims stated in the complaint
under the doctrine of quasi-judicial immunity.
opposition repeats the allegations made in the complaint.
the reasons that follow, Plaintiff’s complaint will be
STANDARD FOR MOTION TO DISMISS
When considering a motion to dismiss a complaint for
failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a 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, 351 (3d Cir. 2005).
It is well
settled that a pleading is sufficient if it contains “a short
and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief.”
Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2).
Under the liberal federal pleading rules, it is not
necessary to plead evidence, and it is not necessary to plead
all the facts that serve as a basis for the claim.
Gulf Oil Corp., 562 F.2d 434, 446 (3d Cir. 1977).
“[a]lthough the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not require
a claimant to set forth an intricately detailed description of
the asserted basis for relief, they do require that the
pleadings give defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff’s
claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.”
Welcome Ctr. v. Brown, 466 U.S. 147, 149-50 n.3 (1984)
(quotation and citation omitted).
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 claim.”
Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 563 n.8 (2007) (quoting
Scheuer v. Rhoades, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974)); see also Ashcroft
v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 684 (2009) (“Our decision in Twombly
expounded the pleading standard for ‘all civil actions’ . . .
.”); Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009)
(“Iqbal . . . provides the final nail-in-the-coffin for the ‘no
set of facts’ standard that applied to federal complaints before
Following the Twombly/Iqbal standard, the Third Circuit has
provided a three-part analysis in reviewing a complaint under
First, the Court must take note of the elements
needed for plaintiff to state a claim.
Santiago v. Warminster
Twp., 629 F.3d 121, 130 (3d Cir. 2010).
Second, the factual and
legal elements of a claim should be separated; a district court
must accept all of the complaint's well-pleaded facts as true,
but may disregard any legal conclusions.
Id.; Fowler, 578 F.3d
at 210 (citing Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1950).
Third, 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.
A complaint must do more than
allege the plaintiff's entitlement to relief.
Fowler, 578 F.3d
at 210; see also Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224,
234 (3d Cir. 2008) (stating that 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”).
It is well established that “[a] judicial officer in the
performance of his [or her] duties has absolute immunity from
suit and will not be liable for his [or her] judicial acts.”
Azubuko v. Royal, 443 F.3d 302, 303 (3d Cir. 2006) (citing
Mireles v. Waco, 502 U.S. 9, 12 (1991)).
has been extended to protect those nonjudicial officials whose
activities are integrally related to the judicial process and
involve the exercise of discretion comparable to that of a
Jodeco, Inc. v. Hann, 674 F. Supp. 488, 497 (D.N.J.
1987) (township zoning board acted in a quasi-judicial capacity
and was therefore entitled to absolute immunity); see also
Kermit Const. Corp. v. Banco Credito Y Ahorro Ponceno, 547 F.2d
1 (1st Cir. 1976) (receiver who carries out orders of appointing
judge shares the judge’s absolute immunity); Davis v. Bayless,
70 F.3d 367, 373 (5th Cir. 1995) (“Court appointed receivers act
as arms of the court and are entitled to share the appointing
judge’s absolute immunity provided that the challenged actions
are taken in good faith and within the scope of the authority
granted to the receiver”); Prop. Mgmt. & Invs., Inc. v. Lewis,
752 F.2d 599, 602 (11th Cir. 1985) (same).
“[A]t the heart of
the doctrine of quasi-judicial immunity lies the notion that
‘the acts, alleged to have been wrongful, were committed by the
officer in the performance of an integral part of the judicial
process.’ ” Jodeco, 674 F. Supp. at 497 (citing (Robichaud v.
Ronan, 351 F.2d 533, 536 (9th Cir. 1965)).
The Court finds that Defendants are entitled to quasijudicial immunity.
All of Rogers’ allegations are based on
Mellman’s authorized actions as a court-appointed receiver
pursuant to court order.
Accordingly, Plaintiff’s complaint
must be dismissed.
Furthermore, this matter may be dismissed on other grounds.
Plaintiff’s instant complaint is duplicative of the action
already pending before this Court and is therefore an
unnecessary drain on judicial and receivership resources.
Colorado River Water Conservation Dist. v. United States, 424
U.S. 800, 817, 96 S. Ct. 1236, 1246, 47 L. Ed. 2d 483 (1976)
(“As between federal district courts
. . .
principle is to avoid duplicative litigation.”); Complaint of
Bankers Trust Co. v. Chatterjee, 636 F.2d 37, 40 (3d Cir. 1980)
(“As such, a district court may properly consider the
conservation of judicial resources and comprehensive disposition
of litigation and attempt to avoid duplicating a proceeding
already pending in a federal district court.”) (further citation
and quotations omitted).
Importantly, dismissal of this case
does not deprive Plaintiff of a voice to express his concerns,
or a forum to assert his legal and equitable rights, as he
remains a party to the parallel proceedings.
Plaintiff has in
the past brought, and the dismissal of this case in no way
precludes him in the future from bringing, his legitimate
concerns regarding this litigation in the first-filed docket
through procedurally proper means.
Thus, dismissal of this
complaint serves to avoid duplicative and parallel proceedings.
For the reasons expressed above, Defendants’ motion to
dismiss will be granted.
An appropriate Order follows.
__s/ Noel L. Hillman_______
NOEL L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.
Dated: _July 7, 2016________
At Camden, New Jersey
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