KORNAFEL v. DEL CHEVROLET/ et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER THAT PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS IS GRANTED. THE COMPLAINT IS DISMISSED FOR LACK OF SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION. THE MOTION TO APPOINT COUNSEL IS DENIED; ETC.. SIGNED BY HONORABLE C. DARNELL JONES, II ON 4/10/18. 4/12/18 ENTERED AND COPIES MAILED TO PRO SE AND UNREPS.(jl, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTER.t~ DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
STANLEY E. KORNAFEL,
DEL CHEVROLET and JACK
APRIL 10, 2018
Plaintiff Stanley E. Kornafel, proceeding prose, brings this civil action against Del Chevrolet
and its owner, Jack Delvecchio. For the following reasons, the Court will grant Mr. Kornafel
leave to proceed in forma pauperis and dismiss his Complaint.
The Court understands Mr. Kornafel to be raising claims based on his purchase of a car from
the Del Chevrolet dealership in 2015. The Complaint reflects that the car "unexpectedly self
destructed" hours after Mr. Kornafel purchased it. (Compl., ECF No. 2 at 3, ~ 3 & 4, ~ 4.) It
appears that Mr. Kornafel tried to work out the issue with the dealership, but the dealership
would not replace his car. Accordingly, Mr. Kornafel initiated a prose civil action against the
dealership in state court.
The Complaint suggests that the state court issued a preliminary order in Mr. Komafel' s
favor, but reflects that the dealership ultimately prevailed in court-ordered arbitration. (Id., ECF
No. 2 at 3.) Mr. Kornafel claims various errors in the arbitration process and notes that the
arbitrators' decision was based on errors and falsehoods. Mr. Komafel continued to pursue his
clams in state court but he did not prevail. He alleges that the Court of Common Pleas "used
position of authority to unfairly advance the defendant with trickery that deprived legally and
lawfully due jury trial," and "unfairly prevented [him] from court ordered granted leeway
denying his access to the court and being heard." (Id.) That allegation appears to be based on
the fact that Mr. Komafel believed, based on a conversation with the Prothonotary, that he had
filed all of the proper paperwork in his case, even though it appears he had not submitted a
praecipe to ask the court to consider his late-filed response to a motion for summary judgment.
As a result, summary judgment was entered against him.
Mr. Komafel appealed to the Superior Court. He alleges that a judge's "name was omitted
from the court's docket sheet creating a false first impression" and that, despite having been
advised of the error, "the court refused to make correction but denied appeal based on the
fraudulently granted Summary." (Id., ECF No. 2 at 4.) Mr. Kornafel's petition for allowance of
appeal was denied by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
Thereafter, Mr. Kornafel initiated the instant civil action based on the sale of the defective
car and the numerous perceived errors and injustices in the state-court litigation. He primarily
cites various constitutional provisions as the basis for his claims. He asks this Court to "allow
a jury trial or remand the case back to the lower court to fulfill its obligation of finding facts
and duty of finding truth through the previously determined lawfully due jury trial." (Id., ECF
No. 2 at 19, if 1.) He also seeks monetary damages.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
The Court grants Mr. Kornafel leave to proceed in forma pauperis because it appears that he
is not capable of paying the fees to commence this civil action. As Mr. Komafel is proceeding in
forma pauperis, the Court must screen his Complaint to determine whether it is frivolous,
malicious, fails to state a claim, or seeks relief from an immune defendant. See 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B). Furthermore, "[i]fthe court determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter
jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action." Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3). As Mr. Kornafel is
proceedingpro se, the Court construes his allegations liberally. Higgs v. Att'y Gen., 655 F.3d
333, 339 (3d Cir. 2011).
A. Claims Seeking Review of State Court Judgments
Pursuant to the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, "federal district courts lack jurisdiction over suits
that are essentially appeals from state-court judgments." Great W Mining & Mineral Co. v. Fox
Rothschild LLP, 615 F.3d 159, 165 (3d Cir. 2010). Based on that principle, the Rooker-Feldman
doctrine deprives a federal district court of jurisdiction over "cases brought by state-court losers
complaining of injuries caused by state-court judgments rendered before the district court
proceedings commenced and inviting district court review and rejection of those judgments." Id.
at 166 (quotations omitted). Mr. Kornafel, who lost in state court, filed this action primarily
seeking reversal of the state courts' judgments because the state courts' rulings were allegedly
incorrect. Accordingly, the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction because Mr. Kornafel is
essentially seeking to appeal judgments entered against him in state court.
B. Remaining Claims
To the extent Mr. Kornafel is bringing federal constitutional claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
that are not subject to Rooker-Feldman, there is no legal basis for his claims. "To state a claim
under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the violation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws
of the United States, and must show that the alleged deprivation was committed by a person
acting under color of state law." West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). Here, the Defendants
are not state actors so they are not subject to liability under§ 1983. Having reviewed the
Complaint, the Court cannot discern any basis for invoking the Court's federal question
jurisdiction based on the events as explained by Mr. Komafel. See Rose v. Husenaj, 708 F.
App'x 57, 60 (3d Cir. 2017) (per curiam) (concluding that plaintiff failed to invoke the District
Court's federal question jurisdiction when there was no substantial basis for his federal claims
(quoting Shapiro v. McManus, 136 S. Ct. 450, 455 (2015))). If Mr. Komafel sought to proceed
on state law claims against the Defendants, there is no basis for diversity jurisdiction over those
claims. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
For the foregoing reasons, the Court will dismiss the Complaint. As Mr. Komafel cannot
cure the jurisdictional defects in his claims, he will not be given leave to file an amended
complaint. See Grayson v. Mayview State Hosp., 293 F.3d 103, 114 (3d Cir. 2002). In light of
the dismissal of Mr. Komafel's Complaint, the Court will also deny his motion for counsel. See
Tabron v. Grace, 6 F.3d 147, 155 (3d Cir. 1993) (in determining whether appointment of counsel
is appropriate, the Court should first determine whether plaintiffs lawsuit has a legal basis). An
appropriate order follows, which shall be docketed separately.
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