Law School Case Brief
Taha v. Bucks Cty - No. 12-6867, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22878 (E.D. Pa. Feb. 21, 2014))
To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. This requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. To decide a motion to dismiss, a court may consider the allegations contained in the complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint and matters of public record.
Plaintiff Daryoush Taha brought a putative class action lawsuit in federal district court against defendants Bucks County and companies that operate the websites mugshots.com, mugshotsonline.com and bustedmugshots.com ("Companies"). Taha alleged that defendants published his expunged arrest record in violation of Pennsylvania's Criminal History Record Information Act (CHRIA). Taha further alleged that the Companies violated 42 Pa. C.S.A. § 8316, which prohibited the unauthorized use of a name or likeness, and have committed the invasion-of-privacy tort of "false light." In addition to damages under CHRIA, Taha sought injunctive relief. The County filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to F.R.C.P 12(b)(1) and (b)(6), arguing that governmental immunity barred Taha's claim for damages under CHRIA, and that his claim for injunctive relief required dismissal because he did not show a sufficient risk of future harm.
Was the County immune from Taha's claim for damages under CHRIA?
The court denied the County's motion to dismiss. The court held that the County could not claim governmental immunity on Taha's CHRIA claims. CHRIA constituted a waiver of immunity under the Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act, in that it constituted a "targeted enactment" that authorized the damage suits against government actors. Dismissal of Taha's claim for injunctive relief was also not warranted because, although the objectionable material was removed from the Companies' websites, the County did not show that the allegedly wrongful behavior could not reasonably be expected to recur.
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