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Humbert v. Langton

September 7, 2010

ERIC HUMBERT, PLAINTIFF
v.
ELAINE A. LANGTON, ET AL., DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Rambo

MEMORANDUM

Before the court are two motions to dismiss Plaintiff Eric Humbert's ("Humbert") third amended complaint, filed on behalf of Defendants Michael J. Kurtz and Elaine A. Langton, as well as a number of state officials ("PA Defendants").*fn1 (Docs. 145 & 157.) In his complaint, Humbert alleges that Defendant Langton violated his right to privacy when she drew his blood for a DNA sample. (Doc. 144.) He also alleges that his subsequent DNA profile was improperly placed in the Combined DNA Index System ("CODIS"). (Id.) In addition, he claims that he was erroneously registered as a sex offender under Pennsylvania's Megan's Law and listed as such on the Megan's Law website. (Id.) For the reasons set forth below, the motion to dismiss filed by Defendants Kurtz and Langton will be granted and the motion to dismiss filed by PA Defendants will be granted in part and denied in part.

I. Background

A. Facts

In the third amended complaint, Humbert provides the following factual background with respect to his claims. The court notes that for purposes of disposition of the instant motions to dismiss, the factual allegations asserted in the third amended complaint will be accepted as true and viewed in a light most favorable to Humbert.

1. Facts Alleged in Amended Complaint

In or about 1992, Humbert was charged with approximately fifteen (15) crimes, including kidnapping under 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2901. (Doc. 144 ¶ 19.) That section provides, in pertinent part:

(b) Grading.-- Kidnapping is a felony of the first degree. A removal or confinement is unlawful within the meaning of this section if it is accomplished by force, threat, or deception, or, in the case of a person who is under the age of 14 years or an incapacitated person, if it is accomplished without the consent of a parent, guardian or other person responsible for general supervision of his welfare. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2901(b) (emphasis added). On May 2, 1994, following a jury trial, Humbert was found guilty of kidnapping accomplished by force, threat or deception. (See Doc. 151 at 4.) However, the jury found him not guilty of kidnapping a person who is under the age of 14 years, see 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 2901. (Doc. 144 ¶ 20.)

In or around August 1994, Defendants Beard, Barnacle, Zwierzyna, and/or DOC Doe's erroneously logged Humbert into the DOC records as a prisoner convicted of kidnapping of a person under 14 years without consent of a parent or guardian. (Id. ¶ 21.) From on or around 1998, his criminal record continued to reflect this error. (Id. ¶ 22.)

In or around 2002, Defendant Martinez directed that Humbert's DNA sample be collected pursuant to his conviction under 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2901. (Id. ¶ 23.) In December 2002, Defendant Tuttle and/or Defendant BPP Doe's informed Humbert that he was required to provide a DNA blood sample prior to being paroled. (Id. ¶ 24.) On January 8, 2003, Defendant Langton drew Humbert's blood in order to obtain a DNA sample. (Id. ¶ 25.) The sample was mailed to Defendant Kurtz at the DNA Laboratory in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. (Id.) In or around 2003, Defendant Kurtz entered a profile of Humbert's DNA into CODIS, the national DNA database maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI"). (Id. ¶ 27.) On or around March 12, 2003, Defendant Evanko or Defendant Miller, and/or PSP Doe's registered Humbert as a convicted sex offender under Pennsylvania's Megan's Law. (Id. ¶ 29.)

Humbert did not know that his profile had been placed in CODIS, or that he had been registered under Megan's Law until his criminal defense attorney informed him of such in January 2005. (Id. ¶ 31.) Throughout his period of incarceration, Humbert had maintained a positive and ongoing relationship with various family members, including his minor daughter. (Id. ¶¶ 32, 33.) However, beginning in late spring and through summer 2005, his minor daughter and various other family members cut off contact with Humbert. (Id. ¶¶ 34, 35.) In July 2005 he discovered that his daughter viewed his listing on the Megan's Law website. (Id. ¶ 36.) As a result of his placement on the Megan's Law Registry, Humbert has been humiliated, suffers mental anguish, and has lost the love and affection of numerous friends and family members, including his minor daughter. (Id. ¶¶ 37-39.) Further, Humbert is at continuous risk of suffering serious bodily harm and/or death at the hands of fellow inmates because of his placement on the Megan's Law Registry and website. (Id. ¶ 40.)

2. Megan's Law Registration and DNA Database

In his third amended complaint, Humbert asserts the following with respect to Pennsylvania's Megan's Law. Under Megan's Law, see 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. §§ 9791, et seq., as enacted in 1995 as 1995-24, PSP, PA Parole Board, the DOC, and their agents and employees, were charged with duties related to the creation and maintenance of the Megan's Law database.*fn2 (Id. ¶ 41.) As a result, when the law was first enacted in 1995, individual Defendants Evanko, Miller, Pawlowski, PSP Doe's, Martinez, McVey, Tuttle, BPP Doe's, Beard, Barnacle, Zwierzyna, and DOC Doe's, all had the responsibility of overseeing the creation and maintenance of the Megan's Law database. (Id. ¶ 42.)

With respect to Humbert's inclusion in the Megan's Law database, Humbert asserts that the above-named Defendants received actual notice of his wrongful inclusion on the Megan's Law database no later than September 29, 2005, the date that Humbert filed his original complaint. (Id. ¶ 44.) Prior to that date, however, Defendants Beard, Barnacle, Zwieryna, and DOC Doe's incorrectly identified Humbert as having been convicted of kidnapping a person under 14 years when, in fact, a jury found him not guilty of that charge. Due to this error, and without such a conviction, Defendants Evanko, Miller, Pawlowski, PSP Doe's, Martinez, McVey, Tuttle, and BPP Doe's lacked the grounds to enter, or cause entry of, Humbert's information into the Megan's Law database. (Id. ¶ 46.) As a result, Humbert alleges that these Defendants failed to act in good faith when they entered, or caused entry of, Humbert's information into the database, and continue to act in bad faith by maintaining his listing in the sexual offender registry and on the Megan's Law website. (Id. ¶ 45, 47.)

When Megan's Law was amended in 2000, see 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 9791, et seq., as enacted as Act 2000-18, the Pennsylvania Attorney General was added to the list of entities and individuals charged with the duties related to the creation and maintenance of the Megan's Law database. (Id. ¶ 52.) As a result, Humbert alleges that as of 2000, the Attorney General, as well as the above-named Defendants, have failed to act in good faith and continue to act in bad faith in maintaining Humbert's information on the Megan's Law website. (Id. ¶ 55.) He also alleges that these Defendants continue to cause him harm by failing to remove his name from the sexual offender registry and Megan's Law website. (Id. ¶ 56.)

Moreover, the court takes judicial notice of the following with respect to registration under Megan's Law. When Humbert was registered under Megan's Law and listed on the Megan's Law website on March 12, 2003, (see Doc. 144 ¶ 29), the following categories of individuals were required to register with the PSP for a period of ten (10) years, pursuant to 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 9795.1(a)(1):

(1) Individuals convicted of any of the following offenses: 18 Pa. C.S. § 2901 (relating to kidnapping) where the victim is a minor. 18 Pa. C.S. § 3126 (relating to indecent assault) where the offense is a misdemeanor of the first degree. 18 Pa. C.S. § 4302 (relating to incest) where the victim is 12 years of age or older but under 18 years of age. 18 Pa. C.S. § 5902(b) (relating to prostitution and related offenses) where the actor promotes the prostitution of a minor. 18 Pa. C.S. § 5903(a)(3), (4), (5) or (6) (relating to obscene and other sexual materials and performances) where the victim is a minor. 18 Pa. C.S. § 6312 (relating to sexual abuse of children). 18 Pa. C.S. § 6318 (relating to unlawful contact with minor). 18 Pa. C.S. § 6320 (relating to sexual exploitation of children).

(2) Individuals convicted of an attempt to commit any of the offenses under paragraph (1) or subsection (b)(2) (relating to felony sex offenses). 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 9795.1(a)(1) (West, Westlaw through Act No. 2002-134, S.B. No. 834, Nov. 20, 2002).

In their briefs in support of the instant motions to dismiss, both sets of Defendants discuss the Pennsylvania legislature's various versions of the DNA Act establishing the guidelines for a DNA database, which includes DNA information of those convicted of felony sex offenses and other specified offenses. As the background of the DNA Act is relevant to Humbert's claim that he was improperly placed in CODIS, and Defendants have attached the legislative ...


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