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Viney v. Jenkintown Sch. Dist.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

September 10, 2014

ALYSSA VINEY, Plaintiff,
v.
JENKINTOWN SCHOOL DISTRICT, ET AL., Defendants

For ALYSSA VINEY, Plaintiff: JAMES W. SUTTON, III, LEAD ATTORNEY, LAW OFFICES OF VIASAC & SHMARUK, FEASTERVILLE, PA.

For JENKINTOWN SCHOOL DISTRICT, Defendant: JOSEPH P. CONNOR, CONNOR WEBER & OBERLIES, PC, PAOLI, PA; STEVEN M. LIERO, CONNOR WEBER & OBERLIES, PAOLI, PA.

MARK CITRON, Defendant, Pro se, PHILADELPHIA, PA.

Page 554

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Mitchell S. Goldberg, J.

Plaintiff Alyssa Viney has alleged that Defendant Mark Citron, an Athletic Director and Principal's Assistant in the Jenkintown School District (the District), sexually abused her for several months in 2010. Plaintiff further claims that the District turned a blind eye to this abuse, despite having reasons to know that Citron was victimizing her on a regular basis.

Plaintiff has brought several state and federal claims against both the District and Citron. The District has filed a motion to dismiss. Upon consideration of this motion, I conclude that Pennsylvania law immunizes the District from Plaintiff's state law claims, but that her federal claim may proceed.

I. Factual and Procedural Background

In evaluating Defendant's motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, I take all factual allegations in the complaint as true, and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of Plaintiff. These facts are as follows:

During the 2009-2010 school year Plaintiff was a senior at Jenkintown High School. During that year, and when she was 17-years-old, she met Defendant, Mark Citron, who was the Athletic Director and Principal's Assistant. (Compl. ¶ ¶ 6-8.)

According to the complaint, Citron regularly telephoned (through an internal phone system) Plaintiff's teachers and ordered her to come to his office. It is alleged that during those meetings Citron sexually assaulted Plaintiff on numerous occasions, including having Plaintiff perform oral sex. These meetings occurred " on practically a daily basis" between January and June of 2010, leading Plaintiff's teachers to comment on the amount of time that Plaintiff was spending out of class and with Citron. Plaintiff claims that despite noticing Citron's unusual behavior, no one at the school " t[ook] any action to investigate, question, manage, or stop said meetings." (Compl. ¶ ¶ 10-12, 16-18.)

Plaintiff filed her complaint on November 19, 2012 against both Mark Citron and Jenkintown School District. The District filed a motion to dismiss on January 28, 2013. In light of the pending criminal charges against Citron, that motion was denied without prejudice on February 5, 2013, and the case was placed in suspense. The parties have now advised that Citron's criminal matter has been resolved and thus, this case has been restored to the active docket.

III. Discussion

Plaintiff's complaint asserts five claims against the District: Count III pleads a claim under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 and alleges that the District " violated the Plaintiff's rights to bodily integrity under the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution" by failing to protect Plaintiff from Citron. Count V alleges a state law claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. Count VII claims that the District is vicariously liable for the sexual assaults committed by Citron. Count VIII alleges a claim for ...


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