CATERBONE v. NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY et al
MEMORANDUM/OPINION THAT THE COURT WILL DISMISS THE AMENDED COMPLAINT. CATERBONE MAY FILE A SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT AS TO THE CLAIMS CHALLENGING THESE RECENT INVOLUNTARY COMMITMENTS. THE COURT WILL DENY CATERBONE'S OUTSTANDING MOTIONS AND WILL ISSUE A SEPARATE ORDER. SIGNED BY HONORABLE EDWARD G. SMITH ON 3/28/17. 3/28/17 ENTERED AND COPIES MAILED TO PRO SE'.(ky, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
STANLEY J. CATERBONE and
ADVANCED MEDIA GROUP,
NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY, or
NSA; DEFENSE ADVANCED
RESEARCH PROJECT AGENCY, or
DARPA; DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE;
DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE AGENCY, or
DIA; CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE
AGENCY, or CIA; FEDERAL BUREAU
OF INVESTIGATION, or FBI; UNITED
STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE;
UNITED STATES ATTORNEY
GENERAL; PENNSYLVANIA STATE
POLICE; PENNSYLVANIA ATTORNEY
GENERAL; LANCASTER COUNTY
COUNTY CRISIS INTERVENTION;
LANCASTER COUNTY SHERIFF
DEPARTMENT; LANCASTER MAYOR
RICK GRAY; LANCASTER CITY
BUREAU OF POLICE; DETECTIVE
CLARK BEARINGER, LANCASTER
CITY BUREAU OF POLICE,
CIVIL ACTION NO. 17-867
March 28, 2017
The pro se plaintiff, a purported telepath, has commenced a civil rights action against
various federal, state, and local authorities based primarily on allegations that the government
has been reading and controlling his mind for three decades. Due to the plaintiff’s prior,
unsuccessful (a term he disputes) attempts to assert these precise claims in this district, he
originally filed this case in the Middle District of Pennsylvania hoping that the court would
accept venue over the case. Although the Middle District of Pennsylvania granted the plaintiff’s
request to proceed in forma pauperis, the court unsurprisingly transferred the case here because
of improper venue.
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), the court has thoroughly reviewed the plaintiff’s
amended complaint in this case. The court has also reviewed his other submissions, including
three motions he filed after commencing the action. As explained in more detail below, the court
will dismiss the amended complaint because (1) the allegations are factually frivolous, (2) it fails
to comply with Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, (3) the plaintiffs improperly
attempt to raise civil claims based on criminal statutes, (4) several of the defendants are immune
from the plaintiffs’ constitutional claims brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Bivens v. Six
Unknown Federal Narcotics Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), and (5) many of the constitutional
claims are time barred. The court will also deny the plaintiffs’ motions. Nonetheless, the court
will allow the plaintiffs an opportunity to file an amended complaint regarding incidents that
occurred with at least one of the defendants when the individual plaintiff was subjected to two
involuntary commitments in 2015 and 2016.
ALLEGATIONS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
The pro se plaintiff, Stanley J. Caterbone (“Caterbone”), purportedly representing
himself and an entity identified as Advanced Media Group, commenced an action against the
defendants, the National Security Agency (“NSA”), the Defense Advanced Research Project
Agency (“DARPA”), the Department of Defense, the Defense Intelligence Agency (“DIA”), the
Central Intelligence Agency (“CIA”), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), the United
States Department of Justice, the United States Attorney General, the Pennsylvania State Police,
the Pennsylvania Attorney General, the Lancaster County Commissioners, Lancaster County
Crisis Intervention, the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Department, former Lancaster Mayor Rick
Gray, the Lancaster City Bureau of Police, and Detective Clark Bearinger of the Lancaster City
Bureau of Police, on December 21, 2016, in the United States District Court for the Middle
District of Pennsylvania. See Doc. Nos. 1, 1-1 – 1-6. 1 Caterbone also filed a motion for leave to
proceed in forma pauperis.
The plaintiffs’ initiating document, which is noted on the docket as a complaint, is titled:
“Preliminary Injunction for Emergency Relief § 1512. Tampering with a witness, victim, or an
informant.” See Doc. No. 1-1 at 1. The document is voluminous and rambling, and it totals 181
pages including exhibits. See Doc. Nos. 1-1 – 1-6. 2
It appears that Caterbone, a resident of Lancaster County who has previously filed
numerous civil actions in this district,3 filed the action on behalf of the plaintiffs in the Middle
District of Pennsylvania because the Eastern District is a “[h]ostile [e]nvironment” and is “being
used as a means of causing severe mental anguish, pain, and suffering – which is in essence
obstruction of justice in the most extreme sense[.]”
See Doc. No. 1 at 2. 4
acknowledges that, through the instant action, he is attempting to complete his prior, voluntarily
The case was docketed at Civil Action No. 1:16-cv-2513-YK. Doc. No. 1.
Unfortunately, the document is broken down into numerous parts on the docket.
Those actions include, among others: Caterbone v. Lancaster County Prison, et al., No. CIV. A. 05-2288, In re:
Stanley J. Caterbone, No. CIV. A. 06-4154, Caterbone, et al. v. Wenger, et al., No. CIV. A. 06-4650, Caterbone, et
al. v. International Signal & Control, Plc., et al., No. CIV. A. 06-4734, In re: Caterbone, et al., No. CIV. A. 065117, Caterbone v. The Commonwealth of Pa., et al., No. CIV. A. 15-3984, Caterbone, et al. v. Commonwealth of
Pa. Dep’t of Transp. Bureau of Driver Licensing, et al., No. CIV. A. 08-2981, Caterbone, et al. v. Lancaster City
Police Bureau, et al., No. CIV. A. 08-2982, Caterbone, et al. v. County of Lancaster, et al., No. CIV. A. 08-2983,
Caterbone, et al. v. Fulton Fin. Corp., et al., No. CIV. A. 10-1558, Caterbone v. Lancaster Behavioral Health/Crisis
Intervention, et al., No. CIV. A. 15-3984, In re: Caterbone, No. 16-mc-49, Caterbone, et al. v. The United States of
Am., et al., No. CIV. A. 16-4014, Caterbone v. Obama, et al., No. CIV. A. 16-4641.
In addition to these actions, Caterbone has decided to intercede in habeas proceedings involving Lisa
Michelle Lambert, and he appears to be fixated on her criminal case. See Brief on Behalf of Amici Curiae Stanley J.
Caterbone and Advanced Media Group in Supp. of Lisa Michelle Lambert’s Habeau [sic] Corpus, Lambert v.
Bissonette, No. CIV. A. 14-2559, Doc. No. 4. He has also filed an amicus brief on behalf of former Pennsylvania
Attorney General Kathleen Kane in her recent criminal case in state court.
The court cites to the page number at the bottom of the document, even though it is broken up into multiple parts.
dismissed action filed in this court at Civil Action No. 16-4014. See id. (“THE PLAINTIFF IS
ATTEMPTING TO COMPLETE THE “Case No. 16-cv-4014 CATERBONE v. [T]he United
States of America et al., COMPLAINT December 20, 2016.”). In support of his desire to have
his case heard in the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Caterbone asserts, inter alia, that (1) he
will have to expend substantially less costs in litigating in the Middle District of Pennsylvania,
(2) “computer hackers have left [him] without most of his online accounts, including PACER,
which is used to file and track federal cases leaving [him] to travel to the U.S. Courthouse in
Philadelphia on a semi[-]weekly basis to obtain docket sheets for his federal cases,” and (3)
“[a]ttendance of any and all court related hearings, if required, would be possible in the Middle
District Court, and unimaginable in the Eastern District anticipating the perpetrators would make
it difficult, if not impossible, when resolutions are in the works; already proven to happen on
numerous occasions.” Id.
In addition to the aforementioned purported reasons to have the Middle District of
Pennsylvania preside over his previously voluntarily dismissed civil action, the plaintiffs include
a “Notice and Disclaimer” with their initiating document. Id. at 3. The notice and disclaimer
states in pertinent part as follows:
Notice and Disclaimer:_Stan J. Caterbone and the Advanced Media Group
have been slandered, defamed, and publicly discredited since 1987 due to
going public (Whistle Blower) with allegations of misconduct and fraud
within International Signal & Control, Plc. of Lancaster, Pa. (ISC pleaded
guilty to selling arms to Iraq via South Africa and a $1 Billion Fraud in
1992). Unfortunately we are forced to defend our reputation and the truth
without the aid of law enforcement and the media, which would normally
prosecute and expose public corruption. We utilize our communications to
thwart further libelous and malicious attacks on our person, our property,
and our business. We continue our fight for justice through the Courts, and
some communications are a means of protecting our rights to continue in our
pursuit of justice. Advanced Media Group is also a member of the media. . .
. How long can Lancaster County and Lancaster City hide me and Continue
to Cover-Up my Whistle Blowing of the ISC Scandel [sic] (And the Torture
from U.S. Sponsored Mind Control)?
In the portion of the initiating document in which the plaintiffs include their arguments in
support of their request for injunctive relief, Caterbone asserts that “he has been a prisoner of the
‘state’ since 1987,” and he has been subjected to a “daily occurrence of assaults.” Id. at 4. With
respect to the precise relief requested, the plaintiffs (in reality, it is just Caterbone) state:
The PLAINTIFF seeks immediate relief from the above in the form of sanctions
and fines for those guilty of extortion and embezzlement and those withholding
accounts receivables. PLAINTIFF seeks immediate relief from the law
enforcement agencies that continue abuse of process. PLAINTIFF seeks relief,
in as much as the courts are able, with regards to the harassment and torture from
those known of such crimes. The Complainant seeks relief from stalking and
harassing neighbors and requires law enforcement to make sure households can
identify all occupants and prove they are entitled to the lease and or deed. Due to
the actions and criminal activity of the above named DEFENDANTS, it is
reasonable to prove that every aspect of PLAINTIFF’S life, is subject to undo
[sic] influence; harassment; torture; obstruction; etc. thus resulting in irreparable
harm and injury. This situation and set of circumstances as outlined here, and all
previous filings; reports; and statements, is a prescription for only one endgame –
death or suicide. There is no life action or activity that is immune from this
horrendous HATE CRIME. The precedent and landmark elements that make this
so appalling is that the Complainant has never done anything to set these
circumstances in motion but to be right regarding International Signal & Control
back in 1987; as well as many other proclamations and forecasts. That being said,
it is also widely reported that many Targeted Individuals and Victims of U.S.
Sponsored Mind Control are lead to death and/or suicide. The Lancaster
Community-At-Large is guilty of creating; abetting; fostering; and executing this
tragedy. The fact that local; state; and federal law enforcement induce and
encourage this environment of hate is landmark.
Id. Caterbone further states that he is seeking to have the court (1) award him amounts set forth
in his “pro se billings invoice,” and (2) enter summary judgment in all of his cases filed in the
Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas and in this court. Id. at 5.
Caterbone then goes on to discuss “targeted individuals” (these are individuals declared
to be an “enemy of the state”), the FBI’s counter intelligence program (“COINTELPRO”) and its
history, and CIA mind control experiments with descriptions of some of them. Id. at 6-28. He
then provides some biographical information about himself and Advanced Media Group. Id. at
29-34. The following is just a sample of some of the biographical information provided by the
CATERBONE had been a victim of organized stalking since 1987 and a victim
of electronic and direct energy weapons since 2005. CATERBONE had also
been telepathic since 2005. In 2005 the U.S. Sponsored Mind Control turned into
an all-out assault of mental telepathy; synthetic telepathy; hacking of all
electronic devices; vand[a]lism and thefts of personal property, extortions,
intellectual property violations, obstruction of justice; violations of due process;
thefts and modifications of court documents; and pain and torture through the use
of directed energy devices and weapons that usually fire a low frequency
electromagnetic energy at the targeted victim. This assault was no coincidence in
that it began simultaneously with the filing of the federal action in U.S. District
Court, or CATERBONE v. Lancaster County Prison, et al., or 05-cv-2288. This
assault began after the handlers remotely trained/synchronized Stan J. Caterbone
with mental telepathy. The main difference opposed to most other victims of this
technology is that CATERBONE is connected 24/7 with the same person who
declares telepathically she is a known celebrity. Over the course of 10 years
CATERBONE had been telepathic with at least 20 known persons and have
spent 10 years trying to validate and confirm their identities without success.
Most U.S. intelligence agencies refuse to cooperate, and the Federal Bureau of
Investigation and the U.S. Attorney’s Office refuse to comment and act on the
numerous formal complaints that are filed in their respective offices. . . . .
CATERBONE had a very sophisticated and authentic library of evidence of the
use of U.S. Sponsored Mind Control technologies on my father and brother that
dates back to the 1940’s while my father was in the U.S. Navy after he graduated
with honors from Air Gunners School in Florida, including an affidavit motorized
[sic] and authenticated by my father in 1996. My brother served in the U.S. Air
[F]orce and was victim to LSD experiments of the infamous MKULTRA program
in the late 1960’s.
In 2009 CATERBONE [p]roposed an ORGANIZED STALKING AND
DIRECTED ENERGY WEAPONS HARASSMENT BILL to Pennsylvania
House of Representative Mike Sturla (Lancaster, Pennsylvania) and City of
Lancaster Mayor Richard Gray in 2009. The draft legislation is the work of
Missouri House of Representative Jim Guest, who has been working on helping
victims of these horrendous crimes for years. The bill will provide protections to
individuals who are being harassed, stalked, harmed by surveillance, and
assaulted; as well as protections to keep individuals from becoming human
research subjects, tortured, and killed by electronic frequency devices, directed
energy devices, implants, and directed energy weapons. CATERBONE again
reintroduced the bill to the Pennsylvania General Assembly in 2015 and
frequented the Pennsylvania Capitol trying to find support and a sponsor; which
CATERBONE still do [sic] to this day.
Id. at 30-31. 5
While the court has specifically referenced the aforementioned sections of the complaint,
the initiating document in general contains allegations of CIA and FBI programs dating back to
the 1940s, and events in Caterbone’s life going back to the 1980s, including his diagnosis with
certain psychiatric conditions and his personal, professional, and legal woes. See, e.g., Doc. No.
1-2, Doc. No. 1-3 at 80-110.
The complaint recounts Caterbone’s arrests and criminal
prosecutions in Lancaster County and Stone Harbor, New Jersey, in the late 1980s, early 1990s,
and in the 2005 to 2007 time frame. See, e.g., Doc. No. 1-2 at 47-48, 49-51, 66, 78, 98-99, 102.
Although the court has thoroughly reviewed the complaint, it is unclear how all of Caterbone’s
allegations relate to each other or give rise to claims against the defendants, and the court will
not recount all of them here.
Nonetheless, to the extent any harmonizing theme can be gleaned from the complaint,
Caterbone appears to be alleging that federal, state, and local governments are conspiring against
him, attacking him, torturing him, and threatening his life and property, thereby violating various
federal and civil rights laws. The basis for those allegations is, as referenced above, Caterbone’s
claim that since 1987, he has been a “victim of organized stalking” because of his alleged
whistleblowing activities against a defense contractor, and that since 2005, the federal
As indicated here, Caterbone believes that the mind control devices used against him in 2005 were, at least in part,
a response to a civil rights lawsuit he filed against the Lancaster County Prison and others. See Caterbone v.
Lancaster Cty. Prison, et al., No. CIV. A. 05-2288. Caterbone voluntarily withdrew that lawsuit without
prejudice—as well as several other lawsuits he filed against Lancaster County employees and/or state officials—in
October 2008. Id. at Doc. No. 69; see also No. CIV. A. 08-2983, No. CIV. A. 08-2982, No. CIV. A. 08-2981, No.
CIV. A. 06-4650. Several allegations in those lawsuits are replicated in the instant lawsuit.
government has been reading his mind, spying on him, and poisoning him. Among other things,
Caterbone claims that government authorities are using invisible directed electromagnetic
radiation by flying jet planes around his home, which apparently caused him to develop
telepathy. It appears that Caterbone reported the government’s mind-reading activity and other
issues, including perceived personal and business slights, to local, state, and federal authorities,
but the authorities did not address his concerns. The complaint also reflects that Caterbone has
been repeatedly involuntarily committed over the years, and that he believes those involuntary
commitments were improperly fabricated to discredit his allegation about the government
controlling his mind, hacking his computer, and otherwise “harassing” him.
Before the Middle District had an opportunity to address Caterbone’s complaint and in
forma pauperis motion, Caterbone filed an amended motion for a preliminary injunction with
exhibits, totaling 193 pages, on December 27, 2016. Doc. Nos. 1-10 – 1-18. The allegations in
the amended document largely duplicate those in Caterbone’s complaint and reiterate
Caterbone’s belief that since 1987, the government has been controlling his mind because of his
alleged whistleblowing activities.
On January 3, 2017, Magistrate Judge Martin C. Carlson issued a report and
recommendation, which granted Caterbone leave to proceed in forma pauperis and
recommended either dismissing the complaint or transferring it to the Eastern District of
Pennsylvania. 6 The report recommended dismissing the complaint for the following reasons:
Magistrate Judge Carlson granted Caterbone leave to proceed in forma pauperis even though his application
reflected that he receives monthly income of $1,357, has access to $9,200 in a checking account, has $13,000 in a
money market account, and owns a home valued at $20,000. Caterbone’s in forma pauperis application also
claimed $2,235 in monthly expenses (inaccurately calculated as $2,432), including $300 for expenses related to
recreation and entertainment, and claimed that he was owed $434,327 in “accounts receivables.”
As previously indicated, Caterbone had previously attempted to file a similar lawsuit, which was docketed
at Civil Action No. 16-4014. Caterbone also sought leave to proceed in forma pauperis in that action based on a
financial affidavit that was similar in many respects to the application he filed in the instant case. See Caterbone, et
al. v. The United States of Am., et al., No. CIV. A. 16-4014, at Doc. No. 1. This court sought to hold a hearing on
(1) it relied on fantastic or delusional scenarios as a basis for a cause of action, such that
dismissal for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction was warranted under Rule 12(b)(1) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure; (2) it failed to comply with Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure because it is incomprehensible and lengthy; (3) the Pennsylvania State Police
was entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity from claims based on 42 U.S.C. § 1983; (4) the
doctrine of sovereign immunity barred any claims that Caterbone sought to raise pursuant to
Bivens v. Six Unknown Federal Narcotics Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971) against the federal
agencies; and (5) the applicable two-year statute of limitations barred many of Caterbone’s
Doc. No. 1-19, Report and Recommendation, at 9-22.
Alternatively, the report
recommended transferring the case to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1406 because venue was improper in the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Id. at 22-24. The
report further recommended denying Caterbone’s motion for a preliminary injunction because
his legal claims lacked merit. Id. at 25-28.
In response to the report and recommendation, the plaintiffs filed a motion for
reconsideration that essentially reiterated many of their allegations in their prior filings, and
again submitted numerous exhibits. Doc. No. 1-20. In the motion, Caterbone pointed out that he
filed the action, at least in part, to seek relief based on the same claims he previously voluntarily
withdrew. See id. at 1 (indicating that “this injunction was filed in an effort to continue the
litigation that was ordered and remanded back to U.S. District Court by the U.S.C.A., and
ordered withdrawn without prejudice (05-02288; 06-04650; 08-02982; 16-04641) by halting
the in forma pauperis application because it differed from a financial affidavit Caterbone had filed 45 days earlier in
another civil matter. Rather than attend the hearing in Easton, Pennsylvania, Caterbone withdrew the complaint.
See id. at Doc. No. 4. Thereafter, Caterbone began filing complaints in the Middle District of Pennsylvania based
on his perception that this court is hostile to his claims. Before filing the instant lawsuit, Caterbone filed a civil
action in the Middle District of Pennsylvania—styled as a petition for a writ of habeas corpus—that was ultimately
transferred to this district. Caterbone v. Obama, et al., No. CIV. A. 16-4641. The court denied Caterbone leave to
proceed in forma pauperis and ultimately dismissed the case without prejudice due to Caterbone’s failure to
prosecute after he failed to pay the filing fee. See id. at Doc. No. 4.
illegal and criminal activities by the named said actors” (emphasis and all-capitalization
omitted)). 7 Judge Carlson issued a report and recommendation on January 9, 2017, which
recommended denying the motion for reconsideration. Doc. No. 1-27. Caterbone responded to
this second report and recommendation on January 26, 2017, by filing nearly two-hundred pages
of exhibits and a purported “notice of appeal,” which was docketed as a motion for
reconsideration of the second report and recommendation. Doc. Nos. 10-22 – 10-24.
On February 1, 2017, the Honorable Yvette Kane entered an order (1) adopting the
January 3, 2017 report and recommendation to the extent it recommended transferring
Caterbone’s case to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1406, and (2)
adopting the January 9, 2017 report and recommendation in its entirety. Doc. No. 1-26. Shortly
after this district received the case from the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Caterbone filed a
“Motion to File Exhibit DVD,” in which he seeks to file a DVD containing copies of various
briefs, motions, and other documents that he has filed over the years in state and federal courts,
as well as other exhibits that allegedly support his claims in this case. Doc. No. 2. Caterbone
also filed a “Motion to File Statement ‘Enough is Enough’” on March 6, 2017, in which he asks
the court for electronic filing privileges and reiterates his claims about government intrusions on
his daily life. Doc. No. 3. On March 20, 2017, Caterbone filed a “Motion to File Exhibit Titled
‘Letter to Huntington Bank Andrew Grimmit re March 7 Liquidation Offer March 17, 2017.” 8
Doc. No. 4.
This differed from Caterbone’s original statement that he was looking to continue his previously voluntarily
dismissed action at Civil Action No. 16-4014.
This document appears to relate to a possible dispute relating to Caterbone’s car loan. See Doc. No. 4 at ECF p. 3.
While it is unclear how this information specifically relates to the defendants identified in this lawsuit, Caterbone
does reference his belief that at some point prior to March 7, 2017, stalkers pursued him “from leaving the Penn
Square Marriot,” and “a hacker took control of the steering” of his vehicle, causing it to hit a wrought iron railing in
Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Id.
Section 1915(e)(2) Review of the Plaintiffs’ Claims
Standard of Review
A complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the
pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). 9 In part, the purpose of this rule is to “give the
defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).
Although pro se complaints are subject to liberal construction, such construction does not
displace the requirement that complaints must comply with Rule 8(a)(2). See Parker v. Learn
the Skills Corp., No. 03-6936, 2004 WL 2384993, at *3 (E.D. Pa. Oct. 25, 2004) (noting this
proposition). “A district court may sua sponte dismiss a complaint for failure to comply with
Rule 8; dismissal is appropriate in cases where the ‘complaint is so confused, ambiguous, vague,
or otherwise unintelligible that its true substance, if any, is well disguised.’” Tucker v. Secretary
U.S. Dep’t of Health and Human Servs., 645 F. App’x 136, 137 (3d Cir. 2016) (per curiam)
(quoting Simmons v. Abruzzo, 49 F.3d 83, 86 (2d Cir. 1995)).
As Caterbone is proceeding in forma pauperis, the court must dismiss the complaint if it
is frivolous, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or asserts a claim against
defendants immune from monetary relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(iii) (providing that
“[n]otwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall
dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that-- . . . (B) the action or appeal-- (i) is
frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks
monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.”). A complaint is frivolous
under section 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) if it “lacks an arguable basis either in law or fact,” Neitzke v.
A complaint must also contain allegations that are “simple, concise, and direct.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(d).
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989), and is legally baseless if it is “based on an indisputably
meritless legal theory.” Deutsch v. United States, 67 F.3d 1080, 1085 (3d Cir. 1995). In
reviewing a pro se plaintiff’s complaint, the court must liberally construe the allegations in the
complaint. See Higgs v. Att’y Gen., 655 F.3d 333, 339-40 (3d Cir. 2011) (“[W]hen presented
with a pro se litigant, we have a special obligation to construe his complaint liberally.” (citation
and internal quotation marks omitted)).
Regarding the analysis under section 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii), the standard for dismissing a
complaint for failure to state a claim pursuant to this subsection is identical to the legal standard
used when ruling on Rule 12(b)(6) motions. See Tourscher v. McCullough, 184 F.3d 236, 240
(3d Cir. 1999) (applying Rule 12(b)(6) standard to dismissal for failure to state a claim under §
1915(e)(2)(B)). Thus, to survive dismissal, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).
The plaintiff’s factual allegations “must be enough to raise a right to relief above the
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556 (citation omitted).
Thus, to determine the
sufficiency of a complaint under Twombly and Iqbal, the court must take the following steps:
First, the court must “tak[e] note of the elements a plaintiff must plead to state a
claim.” Second, the court should identify allegations that, “because they are no
more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth.” Finally,
“where there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their
veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement for
Santiago v. Warminster Twp., 629 F.3d 121, 130 (3d Cir. 2010) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 675,
The plaintiffs’ claims fail for essentially the reasons stated in Magistrate Judge Carlson’s
January 3, 2017 report and recommendation. First (and primarily), Caterbone’s claims fail
because they are factually frivolous. As indicated above, the general theme of Caterbone’s
numerous voluminous filings is that he has been the victim of telepathic intrusions, government
sabotage, and harassment for approximately three decades because he acted as a whistleblower
and filed various lawsuits. 10 It appears that Caterbone has linked every adverse event in his
life—arrests and involuntary commitments, medical and mental health issues, computer
problems, and minor incidents of daily life—to that alleged conspiracy. His allegations appear to
be based on paranoia, delusions of grandeur, irrational thoughts, and/or fantastic scenarios that
courts have consistently held lack an arguable basis in fact. See, e.g., DeGrazia v. F.B.I., 316 F.
App’x 172, 172 (3d Cir. 2009) (per curiam) (concluding that complaint was frivolous where
plaintiff alleged that “at the age of four, he was the victim of a government-run, Nazi-designed
genetic experiment which caused his body to combine with reptile DNA, and that he has since
experienced harmful side effects which pose a threat to others”); Gale v. Williams, 154 F. App’x
494, 495 (7th Cir. 2005) (holding that complaint was frivolous where plaintiff alleged that his
ex-wife “remained married to him for 18 years ‘to use mind control techniques’ and ‘inject
chemicals’ into his ‘food and water supply’ in her role as an undercover government agent on a
mission to ruin his life”); Chambers v. Dir., C.I.A., No. CIV. A. 90-3321, 1990 WL 70155, at *1
(E.D. Pa. May 23, 1990) (dismissing complaint as frivolous where plaintiff alleged “that there is
a grand conspiracy of the . . . defendants to harass the plaintiff through various method[s]
including electroshock therapy, telekinesis, voice synthesizers, hypnotism, mental telepathy, and
Although the court is limited to the allegations in the complaint in determining whether Caterbone has stated a
plausible claim in this case, the court has considered all of Caterbone’s filings in light of the fact that he is
proceeding pro se.
cybernetics” because “the CIA is concerned about plaintiff’s knowledge of the deaths of such
people as Elvis Presley, Gordon Parks, Guy Lomardo, Judy Garland, Greta Garbo, Ralph
Abernathy and Max Weiner”). Accordingly, the court will dismiss the complaint as factually
Second, the complaint fails to comply with Rule 8.
The disorganized nature of
Caterbone’s allegations and the volume of his filings renders it impossible for the defendants to
meaningfully respond. Among other things, the complaint contains details about Caterbone’s
personal and family life, allegations about his claimed career and charity work, explanations of
various government programs, and cites to numerous articles and statutes whose relevance is
Thus, the complaint is properly characterized as being “so excessively
voluminous and unfocused as to be unintelligible,” and it “[leaves] the defendants having to
guess what of the many things discussed” forms the basis for the claims against them. Binsack v.
Lackawanna Cty. Prison, 438 F. App’x 158, 160 (3d Cir. 2011) (per curiam). Therefore, the
complaint also fails to comply with Rule 8.
Third, to the extent that Caterbone is attempting to raise claims under criminal statutes,
see Doc. No. 1-1 at 1 (asserting entitlement to injunctive relief for purported violation of 18
U.S.C. § 1512, which relates to the offense of tampering with a witness, victim, or informant),
those claims fail. Criminal statutes do not generally provide a basis for a litigant’s civil claims.
See Central Bank of Denver, N.A. v. First Interstate Bank of Denver, N.A., 511 U.S. 164, 190
(1994) (“We have been quite reluctant to infer a private right of action from a criminal
prohibition alone.”); Davis v. Warden Lewisburg USP, 594 F. App’x 60, 61 n.3 (3d Cir. 2015)
(per curiam) (explaining that the plaintiff’s claim for an alleged violation of his civil rights under
18 U.S.C. § 242 was “meritless because § 242 is a criminal statute, through which no private
cause of action is created”); Stern v. Halligan, 158 F.3d 729, 731 n.1 (3d Cir. 1998) (pointing out
that the district court correctly “granted summary judgment on the 18 U.S.C. § 241 claim
because there is no private cause of action under the criminal statute” (citing Newcomb v. Ingle,
827 F.2d 675, 677 n.1 (10th Cir. 1987)). This court also lacks the authority to initiate criminal
proceedings. See Godfrey v. Pennsylvania, 525 F. App’x 78, 80 n.1 (3d Cir. 2013) (per curiam)
(“[T]here is no federal right to require the government to initiate criminal proceedings.”);
Mikhail v. Kahn, 991 F. Supp. 2d 596, 636 (E.D. Pa. 2014) (“[I]t is today beyond all reasonable
doubt that “[t]he prosecution of violations of federal criminal law in federal court is a function of
the federal government, not private parties, . . . and federal courts lack the power to direct the
filing of criminal charges” (internal quotation marks and citations omitted)), aff’d 572 F. App’x
68 (3d Cir. 2014) (per curiam). In any event, Caterbone “lacks a judicially cognizable interest in
the prosecution or nonprosecution of another,” and has no right to a government investigation.
Linda R.S. v. Richard D., 410 U.S. 614, 619 (1973); see also Boseski v. North Arlington
Municipality, 621 F. App’x 131, 135 (3d Cir. 2015) (per curiam) (“Boseski has no cognizable
claim against a government entity for its failure to investigate or bring criminal charges against
Fourth, to the extent Caterbone raises constitutional claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and
Bivens, he has inappropriately sued several immune defendants. 11 “Absent a waiver, sovereign
immunity shields the Federal Government and its agencies from suit.” F.D.I.C. v. Meyer, 510
U.S. 471, 474 (1994). Although Bivens creates a damages remedy against individual federal
agents for certain constitutional violations, it does not support a cause of action against federal
Caterbone invokes numerous state and federal statutes in his many filings. It is unnecessary to address all of those
statutes in light of the court’s conclusion that the complaint is factually frivolous and fails to comply with Rule 8.
Nonetheless, as the primary legal basis for Caterbone’s claims appear to be section 1983 and Bivens, the court will
note additional problems with those claims.
agencies. See id. at 486 (concluding that “[a]n extension of Bivens to agencies of the Federal
Government is not supported by the logic of Bivens itself,” and holding that the plaintiff “had no
Bivens cause of action for damages” against the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance
Corporation); see also Correctional Servs. Corp. v. Malesko, 534 U.S. 61, 71 (2001) (explaining
that Bivens “is concerned solely with deterring individual officers’ unconstitutional acts”).
Accordingly, there is no legal basis for Caterbone’s claims against the seven federal agencies he
In addition to Caterbone’s inability to assert Bivens claims against the seven federal
agency defendants, he may not assert section 1983 claims against the Pennsylvania State Police.
“[T]he Pennsylvania State Police are immune from suit under the Eleventh Amendment.” Shine
v. Merenda, 586 F. App’x 95, 97 (3d Cir. 2014) (per curiam); see Atkin v. Johnson, 432 F. App’x
47, 48 (2011) (per curiam) (“The District Court correctly determined that the Eleventh
Amendment bars claims for damages against the P[ennsylvania State Police], a state agency that
did not waive its sovereign immunity.” (citations omitted)). In addition, even if the Pennsylvania
State Police was not immune, Caterbone could not maintain a section 1983 claim against it
because it is not a “person” for purposes of section 1983. See Will v. Department of State Police,
491 U.S. 58, 66 (1989) (“We hold that neither a State nor its officials acting in their official
capacities are ‘persons’ under § 1983.”); Graham v. PA State Police Lancaster Cty., No. CIV. A.
09-3016, 2009 WL 3682384, at *1 (E.D. Pa. Nov. 3, 2009) (“As an initial matter, Plaintiff’s
claim is not viable because the Pennsylvania State Police is not a ‘person’ for purposes of
Finally, the vast majority of Caterbone’s constitutional claims are time barred. Although
it does not appear that the Third Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a precedential opinion
addressing this issue, the court has repeatedly stated in non-precedential decisions that even
though “the statute of limitations is an affirmative defense [under Rule 8(c) of the Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure], a district court may sua sponte dismiss a complaint under § 1915(e) where
the defense is obvious from the complaint and no development of the factual record is required.”
Peele v. McLaughlin, 641 F. App’x 111, 112 (3d Cir. 2016) (per curiam); see Thornton v. HensGreco, 629 F. App’x 251, 254 n.5 (3d Cir. 2015) (per curiam) (same); Trimble v. Shaw, 576 F.
App’x 88, 90 (3d Cir. 2014) (per curiam) (same). Other courts of appeals have decided similarly
in precedential decisions. See Fogle v. Pierson, 435 F.3d 1252, 1258 (10th Cir. 2006) (“A
complaint may be dismissed sua sponte under § 1915 based on an affirmative defense—such as
statute of limitations—only when the defense is obvious from the face of the complaint and no
further factual record is required to be developed.” (quotations omitted)); Pino v. Ryan, 49 F.3d
51, 53-54 (2d Cir. 1995) (addressing appeal of dismissal of pro se lawsuit under former §
1915(d) “on the ground that the expiration of the applicable . . . statute of limitations made it
clear that the suit lacked ‘any arguable basis in law’” and concluding that a district court may
dismiss a case under § 1915(d) when a defense, such as the statute of limitations, appears on the
face of the complaint); Street v. Vose, 936 F.2d 38, 39 (1st Cir. 1991) (holding that district court
properly dismissed pro se complaint on statute of limitations grounds under former § 1915(d));
see also Eriline Co. S.A. v. Johnson, 440 F.3d 648, 656-57 (4th Cir. 2006) (explaining that a
district court’s screening authority under § 1915(e)(2) “differentiates in forma pauperis suits
from ordinary civil suits and justifies an exception to the general rule that a statute of limitations
defense should not be raised and considered sua sponte”).
Regarding the applicable statute of limitations for section 1983 actions,
[t]he length of the statute of limitations . . . is governed by the personal injury tort
law of the state where the cause of action arose. Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384,
387, 127 S.Ct. 1091, 166 L.Ed.2d 973 (2007). The statute of limitations for a §
1983 claim arising in Pennsylvania is two years. 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 5524(2); see
also Kost v. Kozakiewicz, 1 F.3d 176, 189-90 (3d Cir. 1993). Federal law governs
a cause of action’s accrual date. Genty v. Resolution Trust Corp., 937 F.2d 899,
919 (3d Cir. 1991). Under federal law, a cause of action accrues, and the statute
of limitations begins to run, “when the plaintiff knew or should have known of the
injury upon which its action is based.” Sameric Corp. v. City of Philadelphia, 142
F.3d 582, 599 (3d Cir. 1998) (citation omitted); see also Montgomery v. De
Simone, 159 F.3d 120, 126 (3d Cir. 1998). The determination of the time at
which a claim accrues is an objective inquiry; we ask not what the plaintiff
actually knew but what a reasonable person should have known. Barren v. United
States, 839 F.2d 987, 990 (3d Cir. 1988). As a general matter, a cause of action
accrues at the time of the last event necessary to complete the tort, usually at the
time the plaintiff suffers an injury. See United States v. Kubrick, 444 U.S. 111,
120, 100 S.Ct. 352, 62 L.Ed.2d 259 (1979). “The cause of action accrues even
though the full extent of the injury is not then known or predictable. Were it
otherwise, the statute would begin to run only after a plaintiff became satisfied
that he had been harmed enough, placing the supposed statute of repose in the
sole hands of the party seeking relief.” Wallace, 549 U.S. at 391, 127 S.Ct. 1091
(internal quotation marks and citations omitted).
Kach v. Hose, 589 F.3d 626, 634-35 (3d Cir. 2009).
Here, it is apparent that the vast majority of the conduct described in the complaint
occurred more than two years before Caterbone filed the complaint and that he knew or should
have known of the basis for his claims at the time those events occurred. 12 As such, any claims
based on events that took place before December 21, 2014—two years before Caterbone filed
this civil action on behalf of the plaintiffs—are time barred. 13
To illustrate Caterbone’s awareness of his claims, and as indicated earlier in this opinion, Caterbone filed prior
actions based on some of the same allegations contained in the complaint. Compare Doc. No. 1-1 at 91-92
(discussing incidents of harassment” that allegedly occurred at the Lancaster campaign headquarters for Senator
Hillary Clinton in 2008), with Complaint at ¶ 23 (referencing events that occurred at Senator Clinton’s Lancaster
campaign headquarters in 2008), Caterbone, et al. v. Lancaster City Police Bureau, et al., No. CIV. A. 08-2982,
Doc. No. 3.
The continuing violations doctrine would not save these barred claims. This doctrine
is an equitable exception to the timely filing requirement. Thus, when a defendant's conduct is part
of a continuing practice, an action is timely so long as the last act evidencing the continuing
practice falls within the limitations period; in such an instance, the court will grant relief for the
earlier related acts that would otherwise be time barred.
Cowell v. Palmer Twp., 263 F.3d 286, 292 (3d Cir. 2001) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).
Although the court will dismiss the amended complaint for the reasons set forth above, a
district court should generally provide a pro se plaintiff with an opportunity to amend his
complaint unless amending it would be inequitable or futile. See Grayson v. Mayview State
Hosp., 293 F.3d 103, 114 (3d Cir. 2002) (concluding that “§ 1915(e)(2) did not alter our
preexisting rule that in forma pauperis plaintiffs who file complaints subject to dismissal under
Rule 12(b)(6) should receive leave to amend unless amendment would be inequitable or futile”).
Having thoroughly reviewed the complaint and Caterbone’s other filings in this matter, it is
apparent that he cannot cure the above-noted defects. Therefore, the court will dismiss the
complaint with prejudice with the exception of the claims discussed below.
Despite the defects noted above, there are a few limited allegations in the complaint that
could arguably support a timely, plausible claim if divorced from Caterbone’s allegations about
government mind control and harassment, although they do not give rise to claims as currently
pled. More specifically, the complaint and other filings describe an incident that took place on
For the continuing violations doctrine to apply, the court
should consider at least three factors: (1) subject matter-whether the violations constitute the same
type of discrimination, tending to connect them in a continuing violation; (2) frequency-whether
the acts are recurring or more in the nature of isolated incidents; and (3) degree of permanencewhether the act had a degree of permanence which should trigger the plaintiff’s awareness of and
duty to assert his/her rights and whether the consequences of the act would continue even in the
absence of a continuing intent to discriminate.
Id. (citations omitted). “If [a] plaintiff’s claims are based on discrete acts which give rise to causes of action that can
be brought individually, then the continuing violations doctrine does not serve to extend the applicable statute of
limitations periods.” Anders v. Bucks Cty., No. CIV. A. 13-5517, 2014 WL 1924114, at *4 (E.D. Pa. May 12,
Caterbone’s allegations do not satisfy the requirements for application of the continuing violations doctrine.
In this regard, Caterbone’s allegations are so varied and nonsensical that it is not possible for the court to discern
that he is complaining of the same types of acts against the same defendants, so as to connect them in a continuing
violation. In fact, on many occasions, Caterbone does not specify the individuals or entities allegedly perpetrating
the allegedly wrongful acts against him, particularly when he references the unidentified “hackers.” He also does
not plausibly allege any facts to support any inference that the named defendants were somehow conspiring against
him; therefore, there is no factual basis to attribute the acts of one of the named defendants to the other named
defendants. Most importantly, Caterbone has alleged acts with a degree of permanence that should have triggered,
and in fact triggered, his awareness and duty to assert his rights. See Cowell, 263 F.3d at 292 (“The consideration of
the degree of permanence is the most important of the factors.” (citation and internal quotation marks omitted)).
March 8, 2016, during which Caterbone claims to have been illegally detained by eight NSA
officials in Maryland (none of whom are named as defendants), interrogated for two hours about
events going back to 1987, and subjected to an illegal search of his car. See Doc. No. 1-2 at 10406. Although Caterbone’s allegations regarding the March 8, 2016 incident are conclusory and
do not give rise to a claim against any of the defendants named in this case, it is feasible that
Caterbone could plead an appropriate basis for constitutional claims based on those events.
However, as the venue for claims based on that incident would be improper in this court, the
court will dismiss any claims based on the March 8, 2016 incident without prejudice to
Caterbone filing a complaint against the appropriate defendants in the District of Maryland. 14
The complaint also alleges that Detective Bearinger filed petitions for Caterbone’s
involuntary psychiatric commitment in July 2015 and February 2016 that were based on
falsehoods. See, e.g., Doc. No. 1-13 at 99. Although Caterbone describes the petitions as
fabricated, he does not provide any facts to support that contention. Caterbone also indicates that
officers of the Lancaster City Police Department broke his front door while executing one of the
petitions. It is feasible that Caterbone could state a claim against Detective Bearinger and/or
other officers of the Lancaster City Police Department based on the events surrounding his
involuntary commitment in July 2015 and February 2016. Accordingly the court will dismiss
Caterbone’s claims based on those events without prejudice to him filing another amended
Since the statute of limitations has not yet expired as to those claims, Caterbone will not be prejudiced by a
dismissal of his claims without prejudice. See Maryland Restorative Justice Initiative v. Hogan, No. CIV. A. ELH16-1021, 2017 WL 467731, at *16 (D. Md. Feb. 3, 2017) (explaining that a three-year statute of limitations applied
to section 1983 claims filed in the District of Maryland).
Caterbone’s Request for Electronic Filing Privileges
In his “Motion to File Statement ‘Enough is Enough,’” Caterbone requests the court’s
permission to file documents electronically. 15 Doc. No. 3 at 1. Caterbone does not provide any
reasons or arguments to support his request. See id. Nonetheless, particularly at this early stage
in the litigation, the court will deny Caterbone permission to file electronically based in part
upon the court’s prior interaction with him and his failure to provide any reasons for his request
on this occasion. 16
For the foregoing reasons, the court will dismiss the amended complaint. Caterbone’s
claims are dismissed with prejudice, with the exception of any claims based on the March 8,
2016 events in Maryland (which Caterbone may reassert against the appropriate defendants in
the District of Maryland) and any claims based on the events surrounding his involuntary
commitment in July 2015 and February 2016. Caterbone may file a second amended complaint
While irrelevant to the court’s disposition of this request, the court notes that on page 6 of the motion, Caterbone
leaves the bottom of the portion of the page blank, except for the following sentence: “THE COMPUTER
HACKER WANTS THIS FREE SPACE SO HAVE AT IT – ASSHOLE.” Doc. No. 3 at 6.
An example of the court’s prior experience with Caterbone having electronic filing privileges is as follows: In
Civil Action No. 16-mc-49, Caterbone filed a purported bankruptcy appeal from a decision by the United States
Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Upon his request, the court allowed Caterbone to file
documents electronically. See Order, In re Caterbone, No. 16-mc-49, Doc. Nos. 10. The court eventually denied
Caterbone’s application to proceed in forma pauperis, and he filed an appeal from that order to the Third Circuit
Court of Appeals. See Order, In re Caterbone, No. 16-mc-49, Doc. No. 23; Notice of Appeal, In re Caterbone, No.
16-mc-49, Doc. No. 27.
Although Caterbone submitted a few documents shortly after he filed the notice of appeal that related to the
court also denying his request to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal, the court resolved the issue on the day
following the notice of appeal. Order, In re Caterbone, No. 16-mc-49, Doc. No. 32. From the time the court denied
Caterbone’s request for leave to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal, and even though there was no matter or issue
pending before the court, Caterbone proceeded to file approximately 45 documents on the docket over a six-month
period. See Doc. Nos. 34-80. The documents often contained exhibits and, in total, consisted of (easily) at least a
thousand pages of text.
These documents had nothing to do with the merits of the bankruptcy appeal. For example, on November
23, 2016, Caterbone filed a 158-page document that was purportedly a praecipe to add defendants to an action that
he had filed in Lancaster County. See Praecipe to Add Defendants, In re Caterbone, No. CIV. A. 16-mc-49, Doc.
No. 71. As Caterbone repeatedly abused the privilege of filing electronically and appeared to treat the docket as a
message board for other events that he wanted to discuss in his life, the court revoked his permission to file
documents electronically on December 5, 2016. Order, In re Caterbone, No. 16-mc-49, Doc. No. 81.
as to the claims challenging these recent involuntary commitments.
The court will deny
Caterbone’s other outstanding motions.
The court will issue a separate order.
BY THE COURT:
/s/ Edward G. Smith
EDWARD G. SMITH, J.
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