Plaintiff, Vivian Rode, filed a complaint alleging that defendants have violated her civil rights under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985. More specifically, plaintiff claims that defendants, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania ("Commonwealth") and the Pennsylvania State Police ("PSP") have violated her first amendment rights by enacting and enforcing certain administrative regulations which prohibit employees from disseminating information concerning the PSP. These defendants have moved to dismiss the complaint made against them pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12.
In May of 1983, plaintiff, an employee of the PSP, consented to an interview with a newspaper reporter from the Paxton Herald in which she told the reporter that she was being harassed by members of the PSP. On June 1, 1983 an article appeared in the Herald which resulted in the initiation of disciplinary action against plaintiff by the PSP. On June 9, 1983 a hearing was held and plaintiff was given a three (3) day suspension for violating Administrative Regulation 4-6, which requires confidentiality concerning the official business of the PSP, and prohibits employees from publicizing information relating to the PSP without prior approval.
In count III of the complaint,
plaintiff alleges that regulation 4-6 is unconstitutionally overbroad and vague. She requests an order declaring the regulation unconstitutional and seeks a permanent injunction restraining its enforcement. Defendants, however, argue that plaintiff's claims against them should be dismissed because (1) they are not "persons" for purposes of §§ 1983 and 1985 and (2) plaintiff's claims are barred by the Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution. We agree.
Plaintiff has brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985 which expressly provide that only "persons" may be held liable. Although the term "persons" is to be liberally construed, Monell v. New York City Dept. of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 56 L. Ed. 2d 611, 98 S. Ct. 2018 (1978) not all entities are considered to be "persons." It is well settled that a state and its agencies are not "persons" under §§ 1983 and 1985.
Quern v. Jordan, 440 U.S. 332, 59 L. Ed. 2d 358, 99 S. Ct. 1139 (1979). Thompson v. State of New York, 487 F. Supp. 212, 228 (N.D. N.Y. 1979); Flesch v. Eastern Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute, 434 F. Supp. 963, 975 (E.D. Pa. 1977). Applying this analysis it is clear that the Commonwealth and PSP, as an agency of the Commonwealth, are not "persons" within the meaning of §§ 1983 and 1985.
We also find that plaintiff's claim against defendants is barred by the Eleventh Amendment. This Amendment provides that:
The judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by citizens of another state, or by citizens or subjects of any foreign state.