Nicholas Malfitano Jun. 16, 2016, 3:59pm


PHILADELPHIA – An appellate court upheld a ruling from the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania that an Erie woman’s complaint failed to abide by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

On June 7, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit Judges D. Michael Fisher, Kent A. Jordan and Thomas I. Vanaskie ruled Tammy Yori’s lawsuit against Erie County Court of Common Pleas Judge Stephanie Domitrovich, Bradley K. Enterline and Michael Ruiz would not proceed.

Back on March 18, 2015, Yori, sought to file an in forma pauperis (IFP) complaint to allege “all of her civil and constitutional rights were violated earlier that day in a proceeding at the Erie County Court of Common Pleas.”

“Specifically, she claimed that her ex-husband, his lawyer, and a[n Erie County] Court of Common Pleas judge denied that she had an active appeal in our court and lied when they stated that her federal appeals and one of her district court cases had been dismissed,” the Third Circuit said.

According to the Third Circuit, the District Court concluded that Yori qualified financially for IFP status, but “her complaint violated Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, failed to state a claim, and sought damages against a defendant who is immune from such relief.”

“The District Court granted Yori leave to amend her complaint but notified her that future failure to comply with Rule 8 would result in dismissal of her suit,” the Third Circuit said.

Subsequently, Yori included an amended account of her claims (just in case the motion was denied), contained within a motion for extension of time to file an amended complaint, .

“She alleged that the Erie Court of Common Pleas and the Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania ‘took all of her civil and constitutional rights from her…claimed that her ex-husband and others committed some sort of fraud ‘in disclosing facts’ and further alleged that ‘the Court allowed’ her ex-husband to abuse her,” the Third Circuit explained. “The District Court concluded that the amended complaint failed to comply with Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and dismissed it. Yori appeals.”

Though allowing Yori to proceed IFP upon her appeal, the Third Circuit said even in construing the appellant’s claims in the most liberal sense, she failed to meet “basic pleading requirements” – as outlined by Rule 8.

“Rule 8 requires…a pleading to contain ‘a short and plain statement of the grounds for the court’s jurisdiction’ and ‘a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief. Her claims were broad and vague; they were not “‘simple, concise, and direct,” the Third Circuit said.

“Her amendment was even more difficult to understand than her initial complaint, and neither it nor the initial complaint was drafted in a way to put the defendants on notice of the claims against them. For these reasons, the District Court did not abuse its discretion in dismissing Yori’s complaint without further leave to amend,” the federal appellate court concluded.

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit case 15-2386

U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania case 1:15-cv-00083

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at nickpennrecord@gmail.com

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