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Riley v. Corbett

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

March 4, 2015

RONALD RILEY, Plaintiff,


SYLVIA H. RAMBO, District Judge.

Plaintiff Ronald Riley, a state inmate currently incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Smithfield ("SCI-Smithfield") in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, initiated this action on October 28, 2013 with a complaint filed pursuant to the provisions of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, as amended February 18, 2014. (Doc. 13.) Named as Defendants are former-Governor Thomas Corbett, Lieutenant Todd L. Harman of the Pennsylvania State Police, Megan's Law Section, and former-Governor Thomas Ridge. In the amended complaint, Plaintiff alleges that his constitutional rights have been violated because he is required to comply with provisions of Pennsylvania's Megan's Law, see 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. §§ 9791-9799.41, that were not in effect at the time he was sentenced in 1985. As relief, Plaintiff seeks declaratory and compensatory relief.

Presently before the court are two motions to dismiss, filed by Defendants Corbett and Harman (Doc. 20) and Defendant Ridge (Doc. 39). For the reasons set forth below, the motions will be granted and this case will be closed.

I. Background

A. Facts

In the complaint, Plaintiff provides the following factual background with respect to his claims. For purposes of disposition of the instant motions to dismiss, the factual allegations asserted in the complaint will be accepted as true and viewed in a light most favorable to Plaintiff.

On or about September 19, 1985, Plaintiff was sentenced by a judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County, Pennsylvania to a term of incarceration of nine (9) to eighteen (18) years for convictions of rape and burglary. (Doc. 13 ¶ 2.) At that time, the sentencing court neither required Plaintiff to register under Megan's Law nor requested a hearing for a "sexually violent predator" classification evaluation because Megan's Law did not take effect until ten (10) years after Plaintiff was convicted and sentenced. ( Id . ¶ 3.)

After the Pennsylvania Legislature passed Megan's Law in 1995 and then-Governor Ridge signed it into law, Megan's Law "was applied to Plaintiff in spite of the fact that it is not applicable to offenders before its effective date." ( Id . ¶¶ 4, 5.) Plaintiff asserts that he has been required to register under Megan's Law for approximately eleven (11) years despite there being no requirement for him to do so. ( Id . ¶ 6.) In addition, Plaintiff asserts that, after then-Governor Corbett signed into law changes to Pennsylvania's sexual offender registration law in 2012, including, inter alia, lifetime registration for a "Tier 3" sexual offender, those changes were applied to Plaintiff without certain procedures such as notice of a hearing or right to counsel. ( Id . ¶ 7.)

B. Procedural History

Plaintiff initiated this action with a complaint filed on October 28, 2013. (Doc. 1.) On November 19, 2013, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint (Doc. 5), which the court reviewed and determined was defective ( see Doc. 12). As a result, by order dated February 6, 2014, the court directed Plaintiff to file another amended complaint and advised him of the pleading requirements for that amended complaint. ( Id .)

Plaintiff filed his second amended complaint on February 18, 2014. (Doc. 13.) Thereafter, the court granted Plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (Doc. 2), and directed service of the second amended complaint, (Doc. 14). Following service, both sets of Defendants have filed the instant motions to dismiss. (Docs. 20 & 39.) After responsive and reply briefing, these motions are now ripe for disposition.

II. Standard of Review

Among other requirements, a sound complaint must set forth "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). This statement must "give the defendant fair notice of what the... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). "Fair notice" in the context of Rule 8(a)(2) "depends on the type of case - some complaints will require at least some factual allegations to make out a showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 232 (3d Cir. 2008) (quotation omitted). "[A] situation may arise where, at some point, the factual detail in a complaint is so undeveloped that it does not provide a defendant the type of notice of claim which is contemplated by Rule 8." Id . A plaintiff must provide more than "labels and conclusions" or "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action" to show entitlement to relief. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555) (recognizing that Rule 8 pleading standard "does not require detailed factual allegations, ' but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation"); accord, e.g., Baraka v. McGreevey, 481 F.3d 187, 195 (3d Cir. 2007) (stating that the court is not "compelled to accept unsupported conclusions and unwarranted inferences or a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.") (quotations and citations omitted).

A defendant may attack a complaint by a motion under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. In deciding a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the court is required to accept as true all of the factual allegations in the complaint, Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007), and all reasonable inferences permitted by the factual allegations, Watson v. Abington Twp., 478 F.3d 144, 150 (3d Cir. 2007), and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, Kanter v. Barella, 489 F.3d 170, 177 (3d Cir. 2007). If the facts alleged are sufficient to "raise a right to relief above the speculative level" such that the plaintiff's claim is "plausible on its face, " a complaint will survive a motion to dismiss. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 663 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 570) (explaining a claim has "facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged"); see also Phillips, 515 F.3d at 234; Victaulic Co. v. Tieman, 499 F.3d 227, 234 (3d Cir. 2007); Stevenson v. Carroll, 495 F.3d 62, 66 (3d Cir. 2007). Further, when a complaint contains well-pleaded factual allegations, "a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they ...

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