Milan Brown v. Thomas Dart, et al
Filed opinion of the court by Judge Kanne. AFFIRMED. Daniel A. Manion, Circuit Judge; Michael S. Kanne, Circuit Judge and Robert L. Miller , Jr., District Court Judge. [6888138-1]  [16-4179]
United States Court of Appeals
For the Seventh Circuit
MILAN JAMES BROWN,
THOMAS J. DART and COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS,
Appeal from the United States District Court for the
Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division.
No. 15 C 11835 — Edmond E. Chang, Judge.
ARGUED SEPTEMBER 20, 2017 — DECIDED DECEMBER 5, 2017
Before MANION and KANNE, Circuit Judges, and MILLER,
KANNE, Circuit Judge. On July 19, 2013, Milan Brown was
sentenced to 300 days’ imprisonment for violating the terms
of his probation. At the sentencing hearing, the Illinois circuit
The Honorable Robert L. Miller, Jr., United States District Court for the
Northern District of Indiana, sitting by designation.
court specifically stated that Brown should be released in Sep‐
tember 2013, after accounting for good‐time credit. However,
in August 2013, staff at the Cook County Jail informed Brown
that he would not be released until March. On September 10,
2013, Brown filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in state
court seeking to remedy the error, but staff at the jail allegedly
failed to transport him to court on multiple occasions.
On December 16, 2013, the petition was finally heard. The
Illinois circuit court determined Brown should have been re‐
leased in September and immediately released him on a
$50,000 bond. On January 17, 2014, the court released the
On December 30, 2015, Brown filed a § 1983 complaint in
federal court against Sheriff Thomas Dart and Cook County
alleging violations of the Fourth and Eighth Amendments
based on false imprisonment and inhumane conditions.
Brown also alleged a violation of Illinois state law based on
false imprisonment. The defendants moved for judgment on
the pleadings on the basis that all of Brown’s claims were time
barred. The district court entered judgment on the pleadings
in favor of the defendants. On appeal, Brown challenges only
the conclusion that his § 1983 false imprisonment claim was
not timely filed. Because the county and Sheriff Dart released
Brown from prison more than two years before he filed his
claim, the district court’s judgment will be affirmed.
The parties agree that Brown was to be released from the
Cook County Jail on September 12, 2013, and that he was not
in fact released from the jail until December 16, 2013. The only
issue before this court is whether Brown’s § 1983 claim of false
imprisonment was timely filed. We review the district court’s
judgment on the pleadings de novo, accept all well pleaded al‐
legations as true, and construe all alleged facts in the light
most favorable to Brown, the non‐moving party. Hayes v. City
of Chicago, 670 F.3d 810, 813 (7th Cir. 2012).
The statute of limitations to bring a claim under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 is determined by state law. Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S 384,
387 (2007). Under Illinois law, a plaintiff has two years to
bring a § 1983 claim. 735 ILCS 5/13‐202; Gekas v. Vasiliades, 814
F.3d 890, 894 (7th Cir. 2016). The date a cause of action ac‐
crues, however, is determined by federal law. Gekas, 814 F.3d
In Wallace v. Kato, the Supreme Court held that the statute
of limitations for a false imprisonment claim begins when the
false imprisonment ends. 549 U.S. at 389. Brown’s alleged
false imprisonment ended when the court released him from
the jail. To the extent Brown’s liberties were restricted while
he was released on bond, the court, not the sheriff’s depart‐
ment, was responsible for those restrictions. Thus, Brown’s
claim against the sheriff and the county accrued—and the
two‐year statute of limitations began to run—on December
16, 2013. Brown’s petition, filed two weeks beyond the statute
of limitations, was untimely.
Neither of Brown’s arguments to the contrary are convinc‐
ing. Brown offers two reasons for why January 17, 2014,
should be considered the day the false imprisonment ended
and his claim accrued.
First, Brown claims that the time he spent released on
bond was a continuation of the false imprisonment. Brown al‐
leges that, as a condition of the bond, he was not allowed to
leave Illinois or exercise his Second Amendment right. This
court has broadly commented that confining someone to one
state could in some contexts be considered imprisonment, but
“imprisonment” is defined more narrowly in the context of a
constitutional deprivation. Albright v. Oliver, 975 F.2d 343, 346
(7th Cir. 1992). False imprisonment, for purposes of a § 1983
claim, is defined as detention without legal process. Wallace,
549 U.S. at 389. Brown does not claim he was detained with‐
out legal process after December 16, 2013. Once he was re‐
leased from the jail, the only restraints on his liberty were im‐
posed by the court pursuant to legal process. Brown does not
challenge the court’s authority to order him released on bond.
Therefore, the time Brown spent released on bond was not a
continuation of the alleged false imprisonment.
Second, Brown argues that his claim could not accrue until
the court had corrected his release date. In Heck v. Humphrey,
the Supreme Court addressed whether a plaintiff could file a
§ 1983 claim for malicious prosecution before his conviction
had been vacated. 512 U.S. 477 (1994). The Court addressed
the concern that “‘permit[ting] a convicted criminal defend‐
ant to proceed with a malicious prosecution claim would per‐
mit a collateral attack on the conviction through the vehicle of
a civil suit.’” Id. at 485 (citation omitted). Thus, the Court held
that, “in order to recover damages for allegedly unconstitu‐
tional … imprisonment, or for other harm caused by actions
whose unlawfulness would render a conviction or sentence
invalid, a § 1983 plaintiff must prove that the … sentence has
been reversed on direct appeal” or otherwise invalidated. Id.
at 486–87. Brown argues that he was bound by Heck to wait
until the district court resentenced him on January 17, 2014,
to file a claim. But Brown is not alleging that his sentence
should be invalidated. He did not need to obtain any other
judgment in order to prove his false imprisonment claim.
Thus, Heck does not apply.
Without doubt, Milan Brown should have been released
from the Cook County Jail months before he was actually re‐
leased. The allegations that jail staff failed to transport Brown
to court for a timely hearing on his habeas corpus petition are
deeply troubling. Unfortunately, however, Brown failed to
file a timely claim for damages resulting from the failure to
release him on time. Therefore, we AFFIRM the district
court’s grant of judgment on the pleadings in favor of the de‐
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