Court Refuses to Allow Pro Se Plaintiff to Annoy Court

Insurance criminals who are arrested and convicted of the crime of insurance fraud – a very rare occurrence – can’t believe that they must serve time in jail. As a result of the conviction they insist on filing multiple lawsuits – usually with no merit – just to vex and annoy those who they attempted to defraud and the courts.

In Bianca Bucano v. The Law Offices of Gregory Javardian, et al., J-A20044-19, No. 2094 MDA 2018, Superior Court of Pennsylvania (August 21, 2019) Ms. Bucano proved my analysis. In this case, Bianca Bucano, appealed from the order entered in the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas, which dismissed her complaint against The Law Offices of Gregory Javardian (“the Firm”) and others, and barred Bucano from future filings against the Firm and others in, or arising from, the foreclosure action against her and her Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.

FACTS

The trial court opinion sets forth the relevant background facts and procedural history of this appeal as follows:

Appellant is currently an inmate at SCI Muncy.1 Appellant’s numerous filings have resulted in a lengthy procedural history, which includes several appeals to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania. We…emphasize only the following history relevant to this appeal. Bucano has been incarcerated and is serving a state sentence of 11¼ to 23½ years for a 2012 conviction of multiple counts of Corrupt Organizations, Insurance Fraud, Forgery, Theft by Deception, Attempt to Commit Theft by Deception, Conspiracy, and Dealing in Proceeds of Unlawful Activities. In addition, Bucano has been ordered to pay restitution totaling more than $1.1 million. Her direct appeals have been exhausted, the judgment of sentence is final, and her collateral claims under the Post-Conviction Relief Act have been denied.

On May 16, 2013, Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania [(“Citizens Bank”)] commenced mortgage foreclosure proceedings against Appellant for a property located at 2 Harvest Hill Drive, Effort, PA 18330. During the pendency of the foreclosure action, Appellant filed for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. The Firm served as counsel for Citizens Bank in both matters. After the foreclosure judgment was entered, and while she was incarcerated, Bucano filed serial motions, petitions, and requests for various forms of relief, including several filings through which she attempted to collaterally attack the judgment, and others through which she sought a stay of the sheriff’s sale. All of her motions were denied as being procedurally, factually, legally, or jurisdictionally devoid of merit, and the sheriff’s sale occurred on March 30, 2017.

Around and after the date of the sheriff’s sale, Bucano filed several motions and objections. In April of 2017, prior to the delivery of the property’s deed, Bucano filed a motion to set aside the sheriff’s sale alleging that the foreclosure violated Act 6 and Act 91, that the sheriff’s sale was procured by fraud, and that the sale price of the property was below its actual value.

On June 12, 2017, the court denied Bucano’s motion to set aside the sheriff’s sale. The court reasoned that Bucano “failed to recite any cognizable basis on which to challenge, much less set aside, the sheriff’s sale of the subject property.” Further, according to the court, Bucano “improperly attempted to raise and relitigate issues that were or could have been decided long ago, prior to the date the foreclosure judgment became final, and that she had repeatedly attempted to raise on numerous occasions prior to the sheriff’s sale.”

Bucano is a pro se litigant who filed this civil lawsuit on July 5, 2017 against the Firm, Citizens Bank, Monroe Court, Single Source, and Appraiser Coleen Weissman, asserting allegations of fraud in prior bankruptcy and foreclosure actions and violations of various consumer protection statutes. Bucano raised multiple issues for review. In her issues combined, Bucano argued, without evidence or legal precedent, that Appellees violated various consumer protection statutes by fraudulently increasing the amount owed on Bucano’s mortgage and misrepresenting old appraisals as new ones to devalue her property. Bucano contended the Monroe County Court of Common Pleas deliberately overlooked and failed to address her substantive fraud claims, despite her clear and convincing evidence.

ANALYSIS

To the extent the question presented involved interpretation of rules of civil procedure, the standard of review is abuse of discretion. Judicial discretion requires action in conformity with law on facts and circumstances before the trial court after hearing and consideration. Consequently, the court abuses its discretion if, in resolving the issue for decision, it misapplies the law or exercises its discretion in a manner lacking reason. Similarly, the trial court abuses its discretion if it does not follow legal procedure.

Frivolous Litigation. Pro Se Plaintiff

Upon the commencement of any action filed by a pro se plaintiff in the court of common pleas, a defendant may file a motion to dismiss the action on the basis that (1) the pro se plaintiff is alleging the same or related claims which the pro se plaintiff raised in a prior action against the same or related defendants, and (2) these claims have already been resolved pursuant to a written settlement agreement or a court proceeding.

In response to Bucano’s claims, the trial court reasoned that Bucano named the Firm as a defendant in the lawsuit because of its role as counsel for Citizens Bank in her prior foreclosure and bankruptcy actions. In the instant appeal, Bucano raises the same issues regarding discrepancies in the amounts owed by her in her bankruptcy action as in her prior appeal. Bucano has already litigated this issue against Citizens Bank and the Firm and the Superior Court resolved the issue. The claims against the Firm in the instant appeal are clearly the same and/or similar to those in the prior appeal relating to the bankruptcy and foreclosure actions. Although the Firm may not have been a named defendant in prior actions, as counsel for the bank during the time of the bankruptcy and foreclosure actions, the Firm and the claims against it in the current action are “related” to those in the prior action and those prior claims have been long-resolved.

Conclusion

Accordingly, the order dismissing Bucano’s Complaint with prejudice and barring her from future filings against the Firm and Citizens Bank related to the foreclosure action against her and other related defendants for the property located at 2 Harvest Hill Drive, Effort, PA 18330 and her Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Docket No. without leave of Court must be affirmed.

ZALMA OPINION

The sentence Bucano is serving seems appropriate. That sentence should be enhanced for all the court time she has wasted, all the lawyers fees incurred by her victims, and the total waste of time just because her fraud was unsuccessful.


© 2019 – Barry Zalma

This article, and all of the blog posts on this site, digest and summarize cases published by courts of the various states and the United States.  The court decisions have been modified from the actual language of the court decisions, were condensed for ease of reading, and convey the opinions of the author regarding each case.

Barry Zalma, Esq., CFE, now limits his practice to service as an insurance consultant  specializing in insurance coverage, insurance claims handling, insurance bad faith and insurance fraud almost equally for insurers and policyholders. He also serves as an arbitrator or mediator for insurance related disputes. He practiced law in California for more than 44 years as an insurance coverage and claims handling lawyer and more than 50 years in the insurance business. He is available at http://www.zalma.com and zalma@zalma.com.

Mr. Zalma is the first recipient of the first annual Claims Magazine/ACE Legend Award.

Over the last 51 years Barry Zalma has dedicated his life to insurance, insurance claims and the need to defeat insurance fraud. He has created the following library of books and other materials to make it possible for insurers and their claims staff to become insurance claims professionals.

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