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Giove v. Holden

United States District Court, D. Delaware

March 10, 2014

GUY D. GIOVE, Plaintiff,
v.
DWIGHT F. HOLDEN and COL. ROBERT COUPE, Defendants.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

SHERRY R. FALLON, Magistrate Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

In this action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, plaintiff Guy D. Giove ("plaintiff') seeks relief for alleged civil rights violations committed by defendants Dwight F. Holden ("Holden") and Col. Robert Coupe ("Coupe") (together with Holden, "defendants"). Pending before the court is a motion for judgment on the pleadings, filed pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). (D.I. 30) For the following reasons, it is recommended that the court grant defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings.

II. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is a 61-year old resident of Rehoboth, Delaware. (D.I. 28 at ¶ 3) Coupe was the Superintendent for the Delaware State Police of the Department of Public Safety at all times relevant to the present action. ( Id. at ¶ 4) Holden was the Chairperson of the State of Delaware Board of Parole at all times relevant to the present action. ( Id. at ¶ 5)

In 1993, plaintiff pled guilty to Unlawful Sexual Intercourse in the Third Degree. ( Id. at ¶ 6) On July 1, 2008, the Delaware Sex Offender Registration Law, 11 Del. C. § 4120, et seq., changed with respect to an offender's Tier designation for convictions prior to 1996. ( Id. at ¶ 7) Following the change in the law, public notification is not required for a sex offender assigned a Tier I designation, but is required for offenders with Tier II or Tier III designations. ( Id. at ¶ 8)

Coupe is the custodian of the Delaware Sex Offender Registry (the "Registry") and is responsible for its accuracy. ( Id. at ¶ 9) On August 24, 2009, Coupe provided notice to plaintiff that he was required to register under the new law. ( Id. at ¶ 10, Ex. A) The notice indicated that plaintiffs name would not appear on the Registry until his registration and Tier designation were complete. ( Id. )

Plaintiff registered with the Delaware State Police on September 28, 2009. ( Id. at ¶ II) The registration form only identified the offense charged, and not the actual disposition. ( Id., Ex. B) Also, on September 28, 2009, plaintiff was sent an Initial Notice providing that plaintiffs risk level had not yet been assessed. ( Id. at ¶ 12, Ex. C)

On October 1, 2009, a Rehoboth Beach Neighborhood Watch bulletin was published, providing notification to the community that plaintiff was a sex offender. ( Id. at ¶ I4, Ex. D) The bulletin listed plaintiffs address and indicated that plaintiff had been convicted of Unlawful Sexual Intercourse in the First Degree. ( Id. )

On October 7, 2009, plaintiff received notification from the Delaware Department of Justice that he had received a Tier II designation based on his prior conviction for Unlawful Sexual Intercourse in the Third Degree. ( Id. at ¶ 15, Ex. E) Plaintiff appealed his designation to the Board of Parole. ( Id. at ¶ 16) The Board of Parole granted plaintiffs request to reduce his designation to Tier I, which requires no public notification, on July 28, 2010. ( Id. at ¶ 17, Ex. F)

Plaintiff alleges that the erroneous publication caused him to suffer damage to his reputation and his business, which involved property maintenance contractor work for homeowners during the summer vacation off-season. Id. at ¶¶ 18-I9) Plaintiff claims that he was no longer hired for such work after publication and was "ostracized by the community." Id. at ¶ 19)

Plaintiff initiated the present action by filing a complaint in this court on August 19, 2011. (D.I. 1) Plaintiff named Holden, the Parole Board of the State of Delaware, Coupe, and the State of Delaware Department of Public Safety as defendants. ( Id. ) On October 3, 2011, plaintiff filed his first amended complaint against the same defendants. (D.I. 5) In the amended complaint, plaintiff alleged that the defendants violated his civil rights by erroneously publishing information identifying him as a sex offender. ( Id. ) The defendants answered the complaint and moved for judgment on the pleadings. (D.I. 15; D.I. 16) The undersigned Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation recommending that the defendants' motion be granted on June 19, 2012 (D.I. 22), and the court issued an order adopting the Report and Recommendation on July 26, 2012 (D.I. 23).

Plaintiff obtained new counsel and filed a second amended complaint on October 22, 2012, alleging causes of action for violation of the Delaware Sex Offender Registration Law ("SOR Law"), defamation, and violation of plaintiffs procedural due process, substantive due process, or right to privacy against defendants Holden and Coupe. (D.I. 28) Holden and Coupe answered the second amended complaint and moved for judgment on the pleadings on October 31, 2012. (D.I. 29; D.I. 30)

III. LEGAL STANDARD

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c), "[a]fter the pleadings are closed - but early enough not to delay trial - a party may move for judgment on the pleadings." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). When deciding a Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings based on an allegation that the plaintiff has failed to state a claim, the motion "is analyzed under the same standards that apply to a Rule 12(b)(6) motion." Revell v. Port Auth., 598 F.3d 128, 134 (3d Cir. 2010), cert. denied, 131 S.Ct. 995 , 178 L.Ed.2d 825 (Jan. 18, 2011).

To state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint must contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Although detailed factual allegations are not required, the complaint must set forth sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to "state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 663 (2009). Under this standard, the court must accept all well-pleaded factual allegations as true, and must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. See Turbe v. Gov't of Virgin ...


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