Doe v. Brown
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER DENYING 9 Motion to Dismiss; DENYING 11 Motion to add Defendant. Signed by Judge Marvin J. Garbis on 10/30/14. (c/m)(hmls, Deputy Clerk)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
CIVIL ACTION NO. MJG-14-1094
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER RE: DISMISSAL
The Court has before it Defendant's Response [Document 9],
which the Court finds to be a Motion to Dismiss, Defendant's
Motion to Add Defendant [Document 11], and the materials
submitted relating thereto.
The Court finds that a hearing is
Defendant Brown seeks dismissal on the grounds that:
The Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over
The Court cannot exercise personal jurisdiction over
him because Plaintiff's claims are based upon
illegally seized evidence.
Plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted.
The Court shall address the contentions made by Defendant
Brown in turn.
Subject Matter Jurisdiction
"In order to provide a federal forum for plaintiffs who
seek to vindicate federal rights, Congress has conferred on the
district courts original jurisdiction in federal-question cases
– civil actions that arise under the Constitution, laws, or
treaties of the United States."
Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Allapattah
Servs., Inc., 545 U.S. 546, 552 (2005); see 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
Here, Plaintiff presents claims in Counts I and II under federal
statutes, i.e., 18 U.S.C. §§ 2252A, 2255.
has subject matter jurisdiction.
Therefore, this Court
See Smith v. Husband, 376 F.
Supp. 2d 603, 607 (E.D. Va. 2005) ("Plaintiff sues invoking a
federal statute, 18 U.S.C. § 2255, that specifically authorizes
a civil suit for the victim of any of several statutes
prohibiting child molestation, exploitation, and pornography.
Accordingly, the Court has subject matter jurisdiction based
upon the existence of a federal question."); see also Arbaugh v.
Y & H Corp., 546 U.S. 500, 503 (2006).
Defendant Brown contends that the Court lacks personal
jurisdiction over him because the Plaintiff's claims are based
upon illegally seized evidence.
Defendant Brown does not
provide any authority – and the Court is aware of none –
supporting his position that an illegal seizure of evidence by
law enforcement would adversely affect a court's ability to
exercise personal jurisdiction over a defendant in a civil
action brought by the victim of that individual's alleged
Cf. Townes v. City of New York, 176 F.3d 138,
145 (2d Cir. 1999) ("The fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine
cannot link the unreasonable seizure and search to Townes's
conviction and incarceration because this evidentiary doctrine
is inapplicable to civil § 1983 actions.
The fruit of the
poisonous tree doctrine is an evidentiary rule that operates in
the context of criminal procedure." (citations omitted)).
Failure to State a Claim
To avoid dismissal for failure to state a claim, a
complaint need only contain "'a short and plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,' in order
to 'give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is
and the grounds upon which it rests.'"
Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (alteration in original)
"[O]nly a complaint that states a
plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss."
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009).
whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief [is] a
context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw
on its judicial experience and common sense."
The allegations contained in Plaintiff's Complaint – which
must be accepted as true for present purposes, see id. at 678, –
establish a plausible claim that pornographic images of the
Plaintiff's children (taken when the children were juveniles)
were knowingly downloaded by Defendant Brown and possessed by
him, and that Defendant Brown "derived sexual gratification
from" the images.
Compl. ¶¶ 21, 31.
Accordingly, the Complaint
will not be dismissed for failure to state a claim.
Defendant Brown seeks to add as co-Defendants in the
instant case: (1) the provider of "peer-to-peer file sharing
software," mentioned in Compl. ¶ 85, which Defendant Brown
refers to in the instant Motion as "Frontier Internet Service
Provider;" and (2) "the United States Attorney, Assistant United
States Attorney or staff . . . identified at [Compl. ¶ 17] who
notified the victims of the Defendant's alleged violations,
pursuant to the Victims Notification Act."
See [Document 11] at
Defendant Brown presents no alleged facts or cogent theory
upon which an internet software provider could be found to be
"co-liable" to the Plaintiff along with him.
Defendant Brown contends that Department of Justice
employees should be held "co-liable" for notifying the victims
of Defendant's actions.
Absent that notification, he contends
that Plaintiff's children would not have known of the violation
and would not have suffered harm from his actions.
While the Court does not find this creative theory to have
any substantive merit, it suffices to state that the alleged
actions of the Department of Justice employees were in the
course of, and within the scope of, their employment with the
Hence, any claim based upon these actions
would have to be made pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act
See, e.g. , 28 U.S.C. § 2674; Bernard v. United
States, 25 F.3d 98, 102 (2d Cir. 1994) ("The Government's
liability under the FTCA is limited to 'circumstances where the
United States, if a private person, would be liable to the
claimant in accordance with the law of the place where the act
or omission occurred.' (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 1346(b)).
For the foregoing reasons:
Defendant's Response [Document 9], which the Court
finds to be a Motion to Dismiss, is DENIED.
Defendant's Motion to Add Defendant [Document 11] is
The case shall proceed pursuant to the Scheduling
Order being issued herewith.
SO ORDERED, on Thursday, October 30, 2014.
Marvin J. Garbis
United States District Judge
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