The United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania recently granted Elliott Greenleaf’s motion to dismiss due process claims as well as state-law claims of defamation, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress against the City of Sunbury (“Sunbury”) in an important case on the “stigma-plus” doctrine in Pennsylvania. Kline v. City of Sunbury, (M.D. Pa. Oct. 29, 2007).
Plaintiff alleged that his due process rights and state-law protections were violated when the City declared his rental property a “nuisance,” in accordance with a City ordinance, after complaints were lodged against his property and after the City had expressly warned the Plaintiff about the pending action to declare his house a “nuisance.” Plaintiff based his due process claims on the “stigma-plus” doctrine first adopted by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in 2006. Elliott Greenleaf argued that the Plaintiff failed to allege a protected interest, because the “stigma-plus” doctrine has never been extended to contexts other than public employment.
The United States District Court agreed with Elliott Greenleaf and dismissed the constitutional claims and all state-law claims, finding that the defamation and privacy claims were beyond the statue of limitations and that the Plaintiff failed to allege “anything close to the extreme and outrageous conduct” necessary to support a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress.