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HENIG v. ODORIOSO

July 1, 1966

Aileen HENIG, a minor, together with Ludwig Henig and Geneva M. Henig, her parents, Plaintiffs
v.
Rocco A. ODORIOSO et al., Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BODY

 BODY, District Judge.

 The matter presently before the Court involves timely motions, filed on behalf of all named defendants, *fn1" to dismiss a Civil Rights action brought by a minor child and her parents. *fn2" In deciding these motions to dismiss the Court will assume the truthfulness of all of plaintiffs' allegations to determine whether they have any cause of action upon which relief could be granted.

 From the allegations of the complaint *fn3" it appears that at approximately 4:35 P.M. on March 22, 1962 two Radnor Township police officers seized the minor plaintiff, Aileen Henig, at the entrance of a branch store located on Lancaster Avenue in Wayne, Delaware County, Pennsylvania. The store was owned and operated by defendant F. W. Woolworth Company. *fn4" The officers, defendants C. Russell Fleming and Henry P. Jansen, suspecting the eleven year old girl of shoplifting, allegedly took her by force to the manager's office where she was questioned by them and later searched by a female employee of said store at the officers' request. A search of her person produced three comic books, two pairs of stockings, two flashlight batteries and a pocket comb, having a total value of $2.32. Apparently the girl had no sales slip or other receipt to match the recovered articles. Miss Henig, however, denied that she had stolen any of these items.

 Detectives Fleming and Jansen then escorted the child to a nearby police station where, after having allegedly received false promises, she finally admitted that on one previous occasion she had stolen two pens from another store. She again denied any wrongdoing with regard to the Woolworth incident.

 The next morning, March 23, 1962, the same officers took Aileen to the Delaware County Juvenile Court at Media, Pennsylvania. The policemen informed a court employee of the shoplifting charge. A preliminary hearing was held shortly thereafter by the Honorable Thomas A. Curran of the Delaware County Court. The Honorable William R. Toal, now deceased, scheduled a further hearing for May 23, 1962. Plaintiffs contend that both of these proceedings were replete with constitutional infirmities and amounted in general terms to a flagrant violation of due process.

 At the close of the May 23rd hearing Miss Henig was placed in temporary confinement in the Juvenile Court Detention Center until July 13, 1962, a total of fifty-one days, during which time she allegedly was forced to do menial tasks. On July 13, 1962 Judge Toal held a further hearing at which plaintiffs claim the child's constitutional rights to procedural due process were violated. Slanderous and other inflammatory remarks were supposedly made throughout this proceeding by Judge Toal as well as various other defendants named herein. The court found Aileen to be delinquent and Judge Toal, by formal order of July 13, 1962, declared her a ward of the Juvenile Court and committed her to the defendant Wallingford Home of the Orphans' Society of Philadelphia.

 On August 1, 1962 the Henigs petitioned the court for a rehearing. The rehearing was granted for September 7, 1962, at which time the court ruled that its former adjudication in the case was final. The plaintiff parents appealed the Juvenile Court's decision to the Pennsylvania Superior Court in which they attacked the constitutionality of the Pennsylvania Juvenile Act. [Act of June 2, 1933, P.L. 1433, 11 P.S. § 243 et seq. as amended] The Superior Court upheld the constitutionality of the Act and on April 18, 1963 affirmed the order of the lower court. [ Commonwealth v. Henig, 200 Pa.Super. 614, 189 A.2d 894 (1963)] *fn5"

 On May 4, 1963 plaintiffs received a letter from defendant Gerald W. Spivak, then law clerk to Chief Justice Bell, which affirmed the ruling of defendant Blair Gunther, Prothonotary of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, refusing their appeal to that court. The United States Supreme Court denied certiorari. [ Henig v. Pennsylvania, 375 U.S. 908, 84 S. Ct. 201, 11 L. Ed. 2d 148 (1963)]

 Plaintiffs also filed several petitions for a writ of habeas corpus in this matter. On August 28, 1962 the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania denied per curiam one petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Another petition for a writ of habeas corpus was filed with the Pennsylvania Superior Court which was denied per curiam on February 18, 1963.

 On January 25, 1963 a final hearing was held in the Juvenile Court, Judge Toal presiding, as a result of which Miss Henig was discharged from the care of the Home and returned to the custody of her parents.

 On the basis of the foregoing facts and proceedings, Mr. and Mrs. Henig brought this Civil Rights action on their own behalf and on behalf of their daughter, Aileen. In this complaint plaintiffs pray for redress for loss of income, for costs incurred in litigation, and damages for alleged false imprisonment, loss of reputation, slander and defamation, and "general sorrowing and suffering".

 Plaintiffs instituted the present action against: (1) the Radnor Township Commissioners and police officials who allegedly are responsible for illegally arresting the girl and falsely accusing her of shoplifting; (2) F. W. Woolworth Company, Inc. and certain named employees who allegedly aided the police in their illegal arrest and search of the minor plaintiff; (3) the judges and employees of the Delaware County Court, particularly the late Judge Toal by whose order Miss Henig was adjudged a delinquent and incarcerated; (4) the judges of the Pennsylvania Supreme and Superior Courts and certain court employees, all of whom allegedly conspired against plaintiffs; (6) the Wallingford Home and its named employees who allegedly conspired with the courts in incarcerating the minor plaintiff and who allegedly inflicted cruel and inhuman treatment upon the girl during her period of confinement at that institution.

 In deciding the various motions to dismiss, the Court must first decide whether plaintiffs are barred by any applicable statute of limitations with regard to their causes of ...


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