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Joshua Benjamin, A Minor, By Thomas Benjamin and Janet v. James B. Fassnacht

August 1, 2012

JOSHUA BENJAMIN, A MINOR, BY THOMAS BENJAMIN AND JANET BENJAMIN, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
JAMES B. FASSNACHT, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rufe, J.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiffs Joshua Benjamin, a minor, and his parents, Thomas and Janet Benjamin, allege that Defendants violated Joshua's due process rights when they subjected him to an unreasonable search and seizure, an unlawful detention, and an unlawful strip search. Plaintiffs seek money damages pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and a state-law claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress. Two of the Defendants, Pennsylvania State Police Officers James B. Fassnacht and Brian Bray, have moved to dismiss the claims asserted against them. *fn1 The motion will be granted.

I. BACKGROUND

The Complaint alleges the following facts. On July 2, 2009, Defendant Fassnacht responded to a call about an alleged incident between Joshua, who was then 12 years old, and his neighbors. *fn2 The next day, Fassnacht told Joshua's parents that charges would be filed at a later date. *fn3 On July 24, 2009, Fassnacht called Mr. Benjamin to advise him that a warrant had been issued for Joshua's arrest and threatened to arrest Mr. Benjamin if he did not cooperate. *fn4 That day, Mr. Benjamin brought Joshua to a Pennsylvania State Police Barracks, where Joshua was taken into custody by Defendants Fassnacht and Corporal Brian Bray. *fn5 Joshua was transported by Defendant Bray to the Lancaster County Juvenile Intervention Center. *fn6

While in the Intervention Center, Joshua was ordered by Defendants John and Jane Doe to remove all his clothes and was subjected to a strip search. *fn7 Joshua was held at the Intervention Center from Friday evening, July 24, 2009, until Monday morning, July 27, 2009. *fn8 After a hearing, Joshua was released to his parents without any restrictions. *fn9

Plaintiffs assert claims against Fassnacht and Bray in two counts of the Complaint. Count I alleges that Defendants Fassnacht and Bray violated Joshua's constitutional rights by unlawfully arresting and detaining him. *fn10 Count V alleges a state-law claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress by Janet and Thomas Benjamin against all Defendants. *fn11 Moving Defendants argue that the statute of limitations, the Eleventh Amendment, and the Pennsylvania Sovereign Immunity Statute bar the claims asserted against them.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

A. Motions Filed Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1)

Where a party asserts that the Eleventh Amendment of the United States of Constitution deprives a federal court of subject matter jurisdiction, "the motion may properly be considered a motion to dismiss the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1)." *fn12 "At issue in a Rule 12(b)(1) motion is the court's 'very power to hear the case.'" *fn13 Where a defendant does not challenge the truthfulness of the facts material to a jurisdictional analysis, a court evaluates the motion as a facial attack, accepting the factual allegations as true to determine whether the facts as alleged provide a basis for the court's subject matter jurisdiction. *fn14

B. Motions Filed Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), dismissal of a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted is appropriate where a plaintiff's "plain statement" lacks enough substance to show that he is entitled to relief. *fn15 In determining whether a motion to dismiss should be granted, the court must consider only those facts alleged in the complaint, accepting the allegations as true and drawing all logical inferences in favor of the non-moving party. *fn16 Courts are not, however, bound to accept as true legal conclusions couched as factual allegations. *fn17 Something more than a mere possibility of a claim must be alleged; rather plaintiff must allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." *fn18 The complaint must set forth "direct or inferential allegations respecting all the material elements necessary to sustain recovery under some viable legal theory." *fn19 The court has no duty to "conjure up unpleaded facts that might turn a frivolous . . . action into a substantial one." *fn20

III. DISCUSSION

A. Statute of Limitations

Pennsylvania's two-year statute of limitations for personal-injury claims applies both to the § 1983 claims *fn21 and to the claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. *fn22

Pennsylvania's tolling rules also apply. *fn23 Because all of the events at issue happened between July 2, 2009 and July 27, 2009, and the Complaint was not filed until February 3, 2012, the two-year limitations period bars the ...

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