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Spaceage Consulting Corp. v. Porrino

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

March 5, 2018

SPAGEAGE CONSULTING CORP., Plaintiff,
v.
CHRISTOPHER S. PORRINO, et ai, Defendants.

          OPINION

          JOSE L. LINARES CHIEF JUDGE.

         There are three defendants remaining in this action: (1) Christopher S. Porrino, who is named "in his official capacity as Attorney General of New Jersey"; (2) the Essex County Probation Department; and (3) the Hudson County Probation Department (collectively hereinafter, "the Remaining Defendants"). (ECF No. 1 at 1.) The claims asserted against the defendants State of New Jersey, Office of Child Support Services, Elizabeth Connolly, in her official capacity as acting Commissioner of the Office of Child Support Services, and Natasha Johnson, in her official capacity as Director of the Division of Family Development were dismissed on January 23, 2018 for the failure of the plaintiff, SpaceAge Consulting Corp. (hereinafter, "SpaceAge"), to comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (hereinafter, "Rule") 4(m). (ECF No. 11.)

         The Remaining Defendants now move pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) and Rule 12(b)(6) to dismiss SpaceAge's claims that are asserted against them. (ECF Nos. 13 through 13-3, 15.) SpaceAge opposes the motion. (ECF Nos. 14 through 14-3.)

         This Court resolves the motion to dismiss upon a review of the papers and without oral argument. See L. Civ. R. 78.1(b). For the following reasons, this Court grants the motion.

         BACKGROUND

         Surender Malhan is an employee and the sole shareholder of SpaceAge. (ECF No. 1 at 2.) Malhan and his estranged spouse are currently engaged in an ongoing matrimonial, child custody, and child support dispute in a New Jersey state court in Essex County. (Id. at 2-10.) Malhan has personally brought several actions in the District of New Jersey wherein the aforementioned state court dispute with his estranged spouse is at issue, including the instant federal action. See, e.g., Family Civil Liberties Union v. New Jersey, D.N.J. No. 18-2597 (KM); Argen v. Kessler, D.N.J. No. 18-963 (KM); Malhan v. Porrino, D.N.J. No. 16-8889 (KM); Malhan v. Tillerson, D.N.J. No. 16-8495 (CCC); Edelglass v. State of New Jersey, D.N.J. No. 14-760 (FLW).

         For reasons that have not been made clear by the parties in their briefing, SpaceAge has been joined as a party to the aforementioned state court dispute. (See ECF No. 14-2 at 5 (New Jersey Appellate Division, discussed infra, indicating same).) In any event, on August 1, 2017, the New Jersey state court issued an order directing that Malhan's wages from SpaceAge were to be garnished to satisfy his child support obligations (hereinafter, "the State Garnishment Order"). (ECF No. 1 at 5, 8-9; see also ECF No. 14 at 5.) The State Garnishment Order directed that the garnished wages were to be remitted through the Essex County Probation Department, even though the state court Judge who issued that Order had suggested during an underlying hearing that they should be remitted through the Hudson County Probation Department because Malhan currently resides in Hudson County. (ECF No. 1 at 8-9; ECF No. 14 at 6.) SpaceAge alleges that it is has not received a garnishment notice from either the Essex County Probation Department or the Hudson County Probation Department to date. (ECF No. 1 at 9.) SpaceAge also alleges that it moved before the New Jersey Appellate Division for an interlocutory review of the State Garnishment Order, and that the motion has been denied. (Id. at 10; ECF No. 14 at 10; see also ECF No. 14-2 at 5 (New Jersey Appellate Division order denying the motion for leave to appeal).)

         SpaceAge alleges that it "is facing potential liquidation [by the state court] if it fails to comply with an illegal 'garnishment.'" (ECF No. 1 at 7.) SpaceAge seeks to proceed in this federal action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and it alleges that the State Garnishment Order violates its constitutional rights by being contrary to: (1) 45 C.F.R. § 303.100, which concerns the garnishment of wages for child support payments; and (2) 15 U.S.C. § 1673, which concerns the garnishment of wages in general. (ECF No. 1 at 10-29.) As a result, SpaceAge seeks to challenge the State Garnishment Order as being "illegal, " and asks this Court to declare that Order to be "null and void" and "unenforceable." (Id. at 1; see also Id. at 10, 14, 18, 23 (repeatedly stating the same).) Regrettably, the parties have not submitted a copy of the State Garnishment Order for this Court's review, and thus this Court must rely upon the parties' descriptions of the contents of that Order in addressing this motion to dismiss.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Standards

         This Court is guided by the following standards in resolving the Remaining Defendants' motion to dismiss.

         A. Rule 12(b)(1)

         It is not necessary for this Court to restate the standard for resolving a motion to dismiss that is made pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1), because that standard has already been enunciated. See Davis v. Wells Fargo, 824 F.3d 333, 346 (3d Cir. 2016) (setting forth the standard, and explaining Mortensen v. First Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass 'n, 549 F.2d 884 (3d Cir. 1977), Petruska v. Gannon Univ., 462 F.3d 294 (3d Cir. 2006), and Constitution Party of Pa. v. Aichele, 757 F.3d 347 (3d Cir. 2014)).

         B. ...


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