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James J. Land, Jr. and Michael Pessiki v. Yaron Helmer

February 8, 2012

JAMES J. LAND, JR. AND MICHAEL PESSIKI, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
YARON HELMER, ESQ. AND HELMER, PAUL, CONLEY & KASSELMAN, PA, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Joseph E. Irenas

OPINION

IRENAS , Senior District Judge:

This matter arises out of a failed criminal prosecution of the Plaintiffs, who now bring a claim of malicious prosecution against the attorney alleged to have initiated the charges. *fn1

Presently before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). For the reasons set forth below, the Motion will be granted.

I.

The following facts are alleged in the Complaint. Plaintiffs are former corporate officers of a bottled water company, Trident LLC ("Trident"), that contracted with NFI Industries, Inc, ("NFI"), a transportation company. *fn2 (Complaint at ¶¶ 18-20,32). From the outset, the parties' relationship was problematic: NFI continually overcharged while Trident issued five checks, among others, that failed to clear. ( Id . at ¶¶ 40, 43, 45, 65). After six months of transporting water for Trident, NFI ceased delivery and sued Plaintiffs for breach of contract. *fn3

( Id . at ¶¶ 1, 66).

Shortly after filing the complaint, NFI reported the returned checks to the Vineland Police Department and the Cumberland County Prosecutor's Office ("CCPO"). ( Id . at ¶¶ 72, 75). In both instances, officials declined to pursue charges because they considered the dispute a civil matter . *fn4 ( Id . at ¶¶ 73, 77).

NFI consequently hired Defendants, Yaron Helmer and his firm, to help "navigate the criminal system in Cumberland

County." ( Id . at ¶ 79). Helmer, a former Assistant Prosecutor in Cumberland, reviewed over 500 pages of documents and interviewed several NFI staff members. ( Id . at ¶ 83). He subsequently emailed a then-active Assistant Prosecutor, ( id . at ¶ 86), drafted an indictment, ( id .), and went before a Grand Jury as the only witness, ( id .), withholding exculpatory evidence, ( id . at ¶ 95), and testifying to inaccurate contract negotiations. *fn5 ( Id . at ¶¶ 88-90)

The Grand Jury indicted Plaintiffs and Trident on ten charges. *fn6 ( Id . at ¶ 14). Three months after arraignment, the case was dismissed with prejudice because of discovery violations. ( Id . at ¶ 15). The prosecutor's office then sent Plaintiffs a follow-up letter stating that it would not appeal because "the manner of presentation to the Grand Jury was not proper and shall not be sanctioned or condoned," and "there does not exist a good faith basis to prove a criminal case beyond a reasonable doubt." ( Id . at ¶¶ 105-07). Plaintiffs filed suit in this Court eleven months thereafter. Defendants now enter the instant Motion.

II.

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides that a court may dismiss a complaint "for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." In considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court accepts as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint and any reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom. Nami v. Fauver , 82 F.3d 63, 65 (3d Cir. 1996).

To survive a Motion to Dismiss, Plaintiffs must plead more than the mere possibility of relief. Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside , 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009). The complaint must set out "'sufficient factual matter' to show that the claim is facially plausible..." Id . (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1948-49 (2009)). If the complaint permits ...


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