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Sung v. State

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

October 9, 2019

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, et al., Defendants.


          Michael A. Hammer United States Magistrate Judge

         I. Introduction

         This matter comes before the Court on pro se Plaintiff Jeffrey Sung, D.M.D.'s Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint. The Court decided this motion without oral argument. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 78. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will deny Plaintiff's motion.

         II. Background [1]

         As the District Court noted in its Opinion granting Defendants' motions to dismiss the original complaint, this action arises out of an alleged conspiracy involving organized crime, members of the New Jersey State Judiciary, state and local prosecutor's offices, police, attorneys, and others, in connection with the disposition of lawsuits and criminal matters between 1990 and 1997.[2]

         Plaintiff alleges that in or around 1989, Defendants Timothy Tuttle, Esq, Kung Chi Wong, and Hsing Tak Tong induced Plaintiff to invest in four corporations that operated Chinese restaurants. Proposed Amended Compl. ¶¶ 56-57, D.E. 33-1. In 1991, Plaintiff discovered that he been the subject of a scam and filed a lawsuit in state court to recoup his loses. Id. ¶ 58. Defendants William Pollack, Esq. and Glenn Bergenfield, Esq. represented Plaintiff in that action. See Id. ¶¶ 33, 35. According to Plaintiff, Bergenfield took over the case for Pollock in May 1993 and voluntarily dismissed the action without Plaintiff's consent shortly thereafter. Id. ¶ 35. Although subsequent lawsuits were filed, “[t]hat dismissal completely destroyed [Plaintiff's] case and eventually led to the dismissal of about ten cases in a gross injustice.” Id. (emphasis in original). Plaintiff alleges that “Pollack and Bergenfield took bribes from Wong and Tuttle to betray [Plaintiff].” Id.

         Plaintiff alleges that a subsequent conversation between Plaintiff and Bergenfield led to Plaintiff's difficulties with the criminal justice system:

In August 1993, [Plaintiff] accidentally told Bergenfield that he was working with the FBI against Tuttle, Wong and Tong. Bergenfield passed that information to Tuttle who then used his connection [with the Hudson County Prosecutor's Office (“HCPO”)] to set [Plaintiff] up using corrupt [West New York] police which eventually led to [Plaintiff's] arrest in July 1994 to prevent [the] FBI from arresting them.

Id. ¶ 36. More specifically, Plaintiff alleges that, at Tuttle's direction, the HCPO and the West New York Police permitted local gangs to attack Plaintiff's business premises. Id. ¶¶ 24, 52, 59. Plaintiff was subsequently arrested and charged with unlawful possession of a weapon, which Plaintiff avers he needed for self-defense. Id. ¶ 52. In Plaintiff's view, the actions of the HCPO and the West New York Police were tantamount to entrapment. Id. ¶¶ 22-24. Plaintiff subsequently retained Defendant John Dell'Italia, Esq. to defend him against the criminal charges. Id. ¶ 51-52. Plaintiff alleges that Dell'Italia failed to protect Plaintiff's interests and was only interested in helping Tuttle and the HCPO in the conspiracy against him. Id. ¶¶ 53-54.

         Between 1994 and 1997, Tuttle, Wong, and Tong succeeded in defrauding Plaintiff and concealing their criminal activities. See Id. ¶¶ 38-39, 44. The dismissal of the initial action allowed, inter alia: (1) a state court judge “to dispose all four corporations . . ., worth over two million dollars, to help Tuttle, Wong and Tong”; (2) Wong to take over one of the restaurants using stolen money and “Chinatown gangs”; and (3) the “HCPO to dismiss Wong's indictment of theft by deception in 1993, and set up [Plaintiff] and arrest him in July 1994.” Id.

         In connection with the disposition of the corporations, a state court judge appointed Defendant Laura Scott, Esq. as a receiver. Id. ¶¶ 48, 60. Plaintiff alleges that Scott unlawfully seized a significant sum of money from him and refused to provide an accounting of the receivership. Id. Between 1997 and 2017, Plaintiff continued to seek relief from the state judicial system for the aforementioned wrongs. Having received no recourse, Plaintiff asserts that he has “suffered for 30 years due to discrimination, conspiracy, nepotism, and collusion resulting in serious . . . civil and constitutional violations.” Id. ¶ 1.

         On November 21, 2017, Plaintiff filed a five-count complaint against the State of New Jersey, the New Jersey Department of Treasury - Unclaimed Property Administration (“UPA”), the Hudson County Prosecutor Office (“HCPO”), and the New Jersey Attorney General's Office, (collectively, “State Defendants”); and the West New York Police. Complaint, D.E. 1. Plaintiff alleged, inter alia, that: (1) certain state court judges committed a “breach of public trust, ” obstructed justice, deprived him of due process, engaged in discrimination, and violated his civil and constitutional rights, id. ¶¶ 13-19; (2) the HCPO engaged in malicious prosecution and entrapped him, id. ¶¶ 20-24; (3) the West New York Police violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corruption Organizations Act (“RICO”), 18 U.S.C. §§ 1961 et. seq., id. ¶¶ 25-29; (4) the UPA breached the public trust and illegally transferred a sum of money to a private citizen, id. ¶¶ 30-33; and (5) the Attorney General Office's breached the public trust by failing to act on his allegations of corruption, id. ¶¶ 34-35.

         Defendants moved to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. West New York Police Motion to Dismiss, D.E. 12; State Defendants Motion to Dismiss, D.E. 27. On March 13, 2019, the Honorable Kevin McNulty, U.S.D.J., granted Defendants' motions and dismissed the complaint without prejudice to the filing of a motion for leave to amend the complaint within thirty days. Order, D.E. 32. In a comprehensive opinion, Judge McNulty held that Plaintiff's 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and RICO claims were barred by the applicable statutes of limitations. See Sung, 2019 WL 1173023, at *7-8. Specifically, Judge McNulty found that “[t]here is no specific, actionable conduct identified in the complaint that occurred anytime within at least the last ten years-let alone the last two years-before the filing date of the Complaint . . . .” Id. at *8. Judge McNulty thus concluded that “the two-year statute of limitations for a Section 1983 suit bars [Plaintiff's] claims for false arrest, malicious prosecution, due process violations, and Monell[3] violations, and any other potential constitutional violation that may be extrapolated from the complaint.” Id. Judge McNulty likewise found that Plaintiff did not allege any activity within the four-year limitations period for a civil RICO claim.[4] Id. In regard to Plaintiff's theories of liability predicated on obstruction of justice, accomplice liability, and entrapment, Judge McNulty dismissed those claims with prejudice on the basis that those claims are not cognizable causes of action. Id. at *6, n.4.

         Plaintiff timely moved for leave to file an amended complaint. Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint, D.E. 33. In Counts One through Five of the proposed Amended Complaint, Plaintiff reasserts many of the same claims that were subject to the Court's prior order of dismissal. See Proposed Amended Complaint ΒΆΒΆ 19-28, D.E. 33-1. In Counts Six through Nine, Plaintiff alleges novel claims against the ...

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