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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA JESSE RAWLS, SR. and : MARK Y. SUSSMAN : Plaintiffs : CIVIL ACTION : v. : : 1:13-CV-02867-JEJ DR. SUSAN KEGERISE, : Defendant : : : (Judge John E. Jones, III) : MOTION FOR SANCTIONS PURSUANT TO RULE 11 AND NOW, comes the Defendant, Dr. Susan Kegerise, by and through her attorney, Jason P. Kutulakis, Esquire, of ABOM & KUTULAKIS, L.L.P., and files the within Motion for Rule 11 Sanctions averring the following: 1. Plaintiff, Jesse Rawls Sr., is an adult individual, an elected member and Vice President of the Board of School Directors of Susquehanna Township School District and a resident of Susquehanna Township, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. 2. Plaintiff, Mark Y. Sussman, is an adult individual, an elected member of the Board of School Directors of Susquehanna Township School District and resident of Susquehanna Township, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. 3. Defendant is Dr. Susan Kegerise, the duly appointed Superintendent of the Susquehanna Township School District, a political subdivision located in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, and a resident of Dauphin County.
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4. On October 31, 2013, mere days before the November 5, 2013 school board election, the Plaintiffs announced their intention to file a suit by alerting the media. (See Patriot News article dated October 31, 2013, attached hereto and marked as Exhibit “A”). 5. The Pennsylvania General Election occurred November 5, 2013. 6. Plaintiffs actually filed their Complaint in the United States District Court for the Middle District on November 25, 2013 against Defendants Susquehanna Township Board of School Directors, The Susquehanna Township School District, and Dr. Susan Kegerise, Superintendent of the Susquehanna Township School District in her official and individual capacities. 7. On December 3, 2013, the School Board held its annual reorganization meeting. 8. On or about December 10, 2013, School District Solicitor John E. Freund, III, Esquire accepted service of Plaintiffs’ complaint on behalf of the School District and School Board. 9. On or about December 17, 2013, Plaintiffs refused to recuse themselves from School Board matters relating to their own suit, contrary to the opinion of the School District Solicitor.
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10.As a result, on or about January 10, 2014, Dr. Kegerise filed a Complaint and an Emergency Motion in the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas docketed at 14-CV-293 against Jesse Rawls, Sr. and Mark Y. Sussman seeking to enjoin them from participation and votes regarding pending federal litigation which Rawls and Sussman would be considered both Plaintiffs and Defendants. 11.On January 15, 2014, District Solicitor Freund served Plaintiffs’ counsel a formal notice pursuant to Rule 11 of the District and School Board’s intention to seek sanctions. (See correspondence dated January 15, 2014, attached hereto and marked as Exhibit “B”). 12.As a result of Dr. Kegerise’s Complaint and Emergency Motion, a Hearing was scheduled for January 16, 2014 at 10:30 a.m. in front of the Honorable Judge Curcillo of the Court of Common Pleas in Dauphin County in the Dauphin County Courthouse. 13.Defendants, Rawls and Sussman, filed a Petition to Remove the State action to Federal Court on the afternoon of January 15, 2014 at approximately 2:04 p.m, which was docketed at 1:14-CV-067-JEJ. 14.Thereafter, Dr. Kegerise filed an Emergency Motion to Remand the Injunction matter back to the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas.
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15.On January 27, 2014, this Honorable Court entered an Order granting Dr. Kegerise’s Emergency Motion to Remand the Injunction matter back to Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County. 16.On January 17, 2014, Defendant, Dr. Susan Kegerise, waived service of the Federal Complaint 17.Thereafter, on or about January 21, 2014, Plaintiffs filed an Amended Complaint naming only Dr. Susan Kegerise as a Defendant thereby removing the School District. 18.On January 17, 2014, Plaintiffs’ counsel released a public statement that Plaintiffs would only be proceeding against Defendant Kegerise in her private or personal capacity. See, Pennlive article entitled “Two
Susquehanna Twp. School Board members to drop suit against school board, but not superintendent” attached hereto and marked as Exhibit “C”). 19.On January 30, 2014, a hearing was held in Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas regarding the Emergency Motion for injunction. 20.On February 3, 2014, the Honorable Judge Curcillo granted the preliminary injunction. 21.Thereafter, on or about February 7, 2014, Defendant, Dr. Kegerise, sent Plaintiffs a Notice of her intent to seek sanctions under F.R.C.P. Rule 11 if the action was not discontinued within twenty (20) days. (See
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correspondence dated February 7, 2014, attached hereto and marked as Exhibit “D”). 22.The twenty day time period in which to withdraw the Amended Complaint and discontinue the action per the February 7, 2014 correspondence expired on February 27, 2014. 23.The Plaintiffs did not withdraw the Complaint by February 27, 2014. 24.Plaintiffs discontinued their action on March 4, 2014 without prejudice. 25.Plaintiffs admit that their federal litigation was brought for political purposes and community influences. (See statement from Plaintiffs attached hereto and marked as Exhibit “E”). 26.On March 3, 2014, Plaintiffs emailed the media notifying the general public of their intended withdraw of the federal action. 27.Plaintiffs state in their email that, “While we are confident the courts would have found in our favor, the reasons for filing this action have been corrected as result of community and media interest in this case and recent events.” (See, Two Susquehanna Township School Board members ceasing legal action against superintendent, attached hereto and marked as Exhibit “F”). 28.The allegations set forth by Plaintiffs’ are not subject to resolution by “community and media interest.”
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29.Count I of Plaintiffs’ Amended Complaint alleges, “Violation of Rights to Free Speech 42 U.S.C. § 1983; First Amendment to the United States Constitution” based upon Defendant Kegerise’s violation of Plaintiffs’ first amended right to free speech. 30.Count II Plaintiffs’ Amended Complaint simply alleges “Punitive Damages.” 31.The plaintiffs’ prayer for relief demands: Declaratory Relief against the Defendant; Nominal Relief against the Defendant; Compensatory Relief against the Defendant; Punitive damages against the Defendant; and Attorney fees and costs as authorized by law. 32.It has been long established that an individual may not violate another individual’s constitutional rights. 33.No community nor media interests could remedy the factual allegations nor alleged causes of action which gave rise to plaintiffs’ Amended Complaint. 34.Defendant, Dr. Kegerise, incurred attorney’s fees and costs throughout the defense of the instant Action. 35.Dr. Kegerise incurred attorney’s fees and costs due to Plaintiffs’ refusing to recuse themselves from School Board matters relating to the instant Action, despite the obvious conflict of interest and opinion of the School District Solicitor.
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36.Dr. Kegerise incurred attorney’s fees and costs upon successfully moving for remand of 1:14-CV-067-JEJ. 37.The suit instituted by the Plaintiffs violates F.R.C.P. 11 for the following reasons: a. First, the manner in which the Plaintiffs announced the suit to the media without actually filing, mere days prior to the election for the School Board members, elucidates an improper electoral purpose for bringing the suit. b. The Plaintiffs’ Action is an attempt to harass the Superintendent in a public setting by escalating the Plaintiffs general grievances about policy, procedure and personnel in the district. c. The Plaintiffs’ Action is an improper means to re-open settled issues within the School District on which the Plaintiffs were outvoted. d. The Plaintiffs lack standing to bring forth the Action because they have no personal stake in the outcome; nor did they plead a particularized, actual, or imminent harm to Plaintiffs’ Constitutional rights. e. The Amended Complaint has numerous factual inaccuracies contained within it seemingly to harass the Defendant and paint her as a villain in the media.
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f. Plaintiffs’ Amended Complaint is defective for failure to plead an essential party to the Action by not including the Susquehanna Township School District. g. Plaintiffs’ Amended Complaint seeks declaratory relief, but fails to plead any basis for such a demand. h. No extant dispute or controversy exists between the Plaintiff and the Defendant warranting declaratory relief. i. Plaintiffs attempt to act as agents of the School Board and do not have standing to do so under Rule 51 or the Declaratory Judgment Act to bring this action. j. Plaintiffs’ discontinuance of this suit without settlement prior to the filing of a Rule 12 Motion to Dismiss or Answer by Dr. Kegerise demonstrates consciousness of the frivolity. 38. Counsel for Plaintiffs opposes this Motion.
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WHEREFORE, Defendant, Dr. Susan Kegerise, respectfully requests this Honorable Court Grant the within Motion for Rule 11 Sanctions including reasonable attorney’s fees and other expenses directly resulting from the violation in order to effectively deter similar conduct from being undertaken again.
Respectfully submitted, ABOM & KUTULAKIS, L.L.P.
__________/s/_____________ Jason P. Kutulakis, Esquire Attorney I.D. No. 80411 2 West High Street Carlisle, PA 17013 (717) 249-0900 (717) 249-3344 Fax Attorney for Defendant
Date: March 19, 2014
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CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE I, Shannon Freeman, hereby certify that on this 19th day of March, 2014, a true and correct copy of the foregoing Motion for Rule 11 Sanctions was served upon the party named below via electronic means addressed as follows: