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Hessein v. Union County Prosecutor's Office

United States District Court, Third Circuit

November 26, 2013

AMGAD A. HESSEIN, M.D., Plaintiff,
v.
UNION COUNTY PROSECUTOR'S OFFICE, et al., Defendants,

OPINION & ORDER

FAITH S. HOCHBERG, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court upon Defendants'[1] motions to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Plaintiff is appearing pro se .[2] The Court has reviewed the submissions of the parties and considers the motions pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Amgad A. Hessein, M.D. (hereinafter "Plaintiff") was a physician who operated his own practice, Advanced Pain Management ("APM"). In response to alleged illegal medical billing practices performed by Plaintiff's practice, an investigation and a criminal prosecution involving healthcare claims fraud was initiated by the Union County Prosecutor's Office ("UCPO") against Plaintiff. Plaintiff was also administratively prosecuted before the Board of Medical Examiners concerning his license to practice medicine. Plaintiff alleges that he conducted an internal investigation into the matter and uncovered an illegal medical billing scheme conducted by several of his employees and patients. Plaintiff claims that after uncovering the illegal scheme, he reported it to the UCPO. Plaintiff and Ashraf Sami, Plaintiff's brother and office manager, were charged with healthcare claims fraud, theft, and conspiracy. Plaintiff is a defendant in an ongoing criminal case before the Union County Superior Court, docket number UNN-L-0420-11.

On August 19, 2013, Plaintiff filed this action alleging that the criminal investigation was conducted in bad faith, based upon vague state statutes, and harassing towards his person, which resulted in Constitutional violations and irreparable harm to his person, property, character, business, and practice. Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief from the criminal action, a dismissal of all UPCO proceedings, suppression of evidence, damages, and a stay of any State and Federal court actions. Defendants argue that Plaintiff is attempting to thwart the State prosecutions by filing this suit.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

"To survive a motion to dismiss, 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 , 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)); see also Phillips v. County of Allegheny , 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008) ("[S]tating... a claim requires a complaint with enough factual matter (taken as true) to suggest the required element. This does not impose a probability requirement at the pleading stage, but instead simply calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of the necessary element.") (internal quotations omitted).

When considering a motion to dismiss under Iqbal , the Court must conduct a two-part analysis. "First, the factual and legal elements of a claim should be separated. The District Court must accept all of the complaint's well-pleaded facts as true, but may disregard any legal conclusions. Second, a District Court must then determine whether the facts alleged in the complaint are sufficient to show that the plaintiff has a plausible claim for relief." Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside , 578 F.3d 203, 210-11 (3d Cir. 2009) (internal citations and quotations omitted). "A pleading that offers labels and conclusions or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders naked assertions devoid of further factual enhancement." Iqbal , 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (internal quotations and alterations omitted).

III. DISCUSSION

All Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint. Union County moves to dismiss arguing that the county is not vicariously liable under the Torts Claim Act when county prosecutors and their subordinates act in their law enforcement and investigatory capacity. The remaining Defendants move to dismiss under Younger abstention, prosecutorial immunity, the doctrine of qualified immunity, sovereign immunity, [3] and for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

a. Union County's Motion to Dismiss

i. Union County's Liability Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 59:2-2 and Wright v. State

Union County argues that the county is not vicariously liable under the Torts Claim Act when county prosecutors and their subordinates act in their law enforcement and investigatory capacity. The Union County defendants allege that they act as "agents" and "officers" of the State, qualifying them as State employees, under N.J.S.A. 59:1-3, [4] for purposes of determining vicarious liability under the Torts Claim Act. Union County contends that for the county to be vicariously liable, the acts performed by the prosecutor must have been within his administrative or personal capacity and unrelated to his duty to investigate or prosecute.

Plaintiff claims that the UCPO investigators and their subordinates did not have jurisdiction and, therefore, were Union County employees not State employees. Plaintiff fails to provide any legal authority or support for this argument. In addition, Plaintiff claims that Union County admits ...


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