Webb v. Hill et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Chief Judge Karon O Bowdre on 12/11/2013. (KAM, )
2013 Dec-11 PM 01:17
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
JIMMY LEE WEBB,
JAMES E. HILL, et al.,
) Case No. 2:13-cv-00725-KOB-JEO
MEMORANDUM OF OPINION
The magistrate judge filed a report and recommendation on October 31, 2013;
he recommended that this action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 be dismissed
under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b) as barred by the statute of limitations and for failing to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted. (Doc. 13). The plaintiff filed
objections to the report and recommendation on November 14, 2013. (Doc. 14).
The plaintiff objects to the magistrate judge’s finding that his claims are barred
by the applicable statute of limitations. The plaintiff alleges that a court reporter
formerly employed by the St. Clair County Circuit Court notified him only recently
that no transcript exists in his criminal case. He contends that this notification
constitutes evidence that he is illegally imprisoned. He argues that because the
statute of limitations does not begin to run until a plaintiff knows or has reason to
know of the injury that is the basis of the action, his claims are not time barred.
The plaintiff is correct that a cause of action accrues and the limitations period
begins to run when a plaintiff “knows or has reason to know of the injury which is the
basis of the action.” Corn v. City of Lauderdale Lakes, 904 F.2d 585, 588 (11th Cir.
1990); see also McNair v. Allen, 515 F.3d 1168, 1174 (11th Cir. 2008). The Eleventh
Circuit Court of Appeals has stated that “‘the statute [of limitations] does not begin
to run until the facts which would support a cause of action are apparent or should be
apparent to a person with a reasonably prudent regard for his rights.’” Calhoun v.
Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, 705 F.2d 422, 425 (11th Cir. 1983)
(quoting Reeb v. Economic Opportunity Atlanta, Inc., 516 F.2d 924, 930 (5th Cir.
1975)). Therefore, a § 1983 action does not accrue until the plaintiff knows or has
reason to know that he or she has been injured. See Calhoun, 705 F.2d at 424.
The plaintiff alleges that on July 29, 1997, he was escorted into the St. Clair
County Courthouse to be arraigned in Case No. CC-97-76 on a charge of second
degree assault. (Doc. 1 at 4). Dennis Rushing, the plaintiff’s defense attorney,
informed him that if he pled guilty, Rushing could negotiate a ten-year sentence for
plaintiff. The plaintiff was not arraigned on this date. He further alleges that he did
not plead guilty or make any plea to the charge. Id.
On September 2, 1997, while in open court, St. Clair County Assistant District
Attorney W. Van Davis provided the plaintiff with a “plea agreement form, [I]reland
form, and statement of satisfaction.” The plaintiff signed the documents but alleges
that he did not plead guilty to the charge of assault in Case No. CC-97-76. Id.
Any cause of action concerning the plaintiff’s claims of “illegal restraint”
accrued at the latest on September 2, 1997, when he claims that he was not arraigned
and did not plead to the assault charge in Case No. CC-97-76. At such time, the
plaintiff was aware or should have been aware that his constitutional rights had been
violated. The plaintiff did not file the present action until April 14, 2013, some
fifteen years later. (Doc. 1 at 6). The existence or non-existence of a transcript does
not extend that time period; the lack of a transcript fifteen years after the events does
not, in and of itself, make the plaintiff’s detention illegal or give rise to any
knowledge of a claim that the plaintiff did not otherwise have. Based on the
foregoing, the plaintiff’s claims against defendants are barred by the statute of
Plaintiff’s only request for relief is that the court issue an order for his release.
(See Doc. 1 at 6). Even if the plaintiff’s claims were not barred by the statute of
limitations, his request for release is due to be denied because a state prisoner may
challenge the “fact or duration” of his confinement only by way of a petition for writ
of habeas corpus. Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475 (1973). A prisoner cannot
circumvent the exhaustion requirements in a habeas action by filing a request for
release under § 1983. See Richardson v. Fleming, 651 F.2d 366 (5th Cir. 1981).
The court has carefully reviewed and considered de novo all the materials in
the court file, including the report and recommendation and the objections. The court
ADOPTS the magistrate judge’s report and ACCEPTS his recommendation that the
this case is due to be dismissed as barred by the statute of limitations, or in the
alternative, as failing to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
Accordingly, the court finds that the complaint is due to be dismissed as barred
by the statute of limitations, or in the alternative, as failing to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted.
The court will enter a separate, final Order.
DONE and ORDERED this 11th day of December, 2013.
KARON OWEN BOWDRE
CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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