Jones v. Gann et al
OPINION AND ORDER granting 17 MOTION to Dismiss filed by D Kirby Wright and Chris Gann; pltf's federal law claims are dismissed with prejudice and the state law claims are dismissed without prejudice; this dismissal counts as a "strike"; denying as moot pltf's 21 MOTION for Summary Judgment; judgment will be entered accordingly. Signed by Chief Judge J. Leon Holmes on 1/11/12. (vjt)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
CHARLES EDWARD JONES, SR.,
ADC # 144544
No. 4:11CV00701 JLH
CHRIS GANN, Detective, Investigation Unit,
North Little Rock Police Department; and
D. KIRBY WRIGHT, Detective, Investigation Unit,
North Little Rock Police Department
OPINION AND ORDER
On September 23, 2011, Charles Edward Jones, Sr., initiated this action against a number
of defendants, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging various constitutional violations. In
accordance with the screening procedure in 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court dismissed the complaint
without prejudice. Subsequently, the Court reopened the case and granted Jones’ motion to file an
amended complaint. Pursuant to section 1915A, the Court dismissed all defendants named in the
amended complaint except for North Little Rock Detectives Chris Gann and D. Kirby Wright. Gann
and Wright have now filed this motion to dismiss.
According to Jones’ complaint, he was illegally arrested by Gann and Wright on
February 21, 2008. He alleges that he was arrested without probable cause and was detained in the
Pulaski County Jail. He further alleges that the arrest warrant was invalid. Jones avers that he was
brought before a state court and was charged with four counts of rape on April 1, 2008. Charges
were filed in two separate cases. The prosecutor took one of those cases to trial, and the jury found
Jones guilty. After the conviction was affirmed on appeal, the prosecutor dismissed the charges in
the other case.
The defendants contend that Jones’ claims are barred by the statute of limitations. The
parties agree that the statute of limitations for an action pursuant to section 1983 is the state statute
of limitations for personal injury torts. See Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 387, 127 S. Ct. 1091,
1094, 166 L. Ed. 2d 973 (2007). In Arkansas, the limitation period for a section 1983 claim is three
years. See Morton v. City of Little Rock, 934 F.2d 180, 183 (8th Cir. 1991) (citing Ark. Code Ann.
§ 16-56-105). Although state law determines the limitations period, the accrual date of a section
1983 cause of action is a question of federal law. Wallace, 549 U.S. at 388, 127 S. Ct. at 1095.
Under federal law, a cause of action accrues when the plaintiff “discovers, or with due diligence
should have discovered, the injury that is the basis of the litigation.” Union Pacific R. Co. v.
Beckham, 138 F.3d 325, 330 (8th Cir. 1998); see also Wallace, 549 U.S. at 388, 127 S. Ct. at 1095
(when “the plaintiff can file suit and obtain relief[.]”).
In the instant case, Jones’ arrest occurred on February 21, 2008. Therefore, his false arrest
claim would have accrued on that date. However, Jones also alleges that his detention was
unconstitutional. Generally, a claim of false imprisonment only accrues once the victim is released.
Wallace, 549 U.S. at 389, 127 S. Ct. at 1095-96. Nevertheless, “[r]eflective of the fact that false
imprisonment consists of detention without legal process, a false imprisonment ends once the victim
becomes held pursuant to such process—when, for example, he is bound over by a magistrate or
arraigned on charges.” Id. According to Jones’ amended complaint, he was “bound over to Circuit
Court” and charged with four counts of rape on April 1, 2008. Therefore, Jones’ false imprisonment
claim accrued, at the very latest, on April 1, 2008. Jones did not file his initial complaint until
September 23, 2011, which was more than three years after either of the above dates.
Jones argues that his section 1983 claims should be tolled until his rape trial was entirely
concluded. See Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 114 S. Ct. 2364, 129 L. Ed. 2d 383 (1994). Heck
does not apply here because, an illegal arrest is not a bar to a subsequent prosecution nor a defense
to a valid conviction. United States v. Crews, 445 U.S. 463, 474, 100 S. Ct. 1244, 1251, 63 L. Ed.
2d 537 (1980). Were Jones to prove that he was arrested illegally, a judgment in his favor would
not demonstrate the invalidity of any of his rape convictions. See Heck, 512 U.S. at 487, 114 S. Ct.
Jones also contends that the limitations period should be tolled because his incarceration
constitutes a disability that interfered with his ability to bring suit.1 Although a cause of action’s
accrual date is determined by reference to federal law as stated above, the issue of tolling is decided
by reference to state law. See Hardin v. Straub, 490 U.S. 536, 539, 109 S. Ct. 1998, 2000-01, 104
L. Ed. 2d 582 (1989); Board of Regents v. Tomanio, 446 U.S. 478, 483-86, 100 S. Ct. 1790,
1794-96, 64 L. Ed. 2d 440 (1980); see also Montin v. Estate of Johnson, 636 F.3d 409, 413 (8th Cir.
2011). At one time Arkansas law provided disability tolling for those incarcerated outside of the
state, see Camp v. Dailey, 29 F.3d 627 (8th Cir. 1994) (per curiam) (citing Ark. Code Ann.
§ 16-56-116 (Michie 1987)), but the statute was amended in 1999 to remove that provision. See
Ark. Code Ann. § 16-56-116 (Repl. 2005) and 1999 Ark. Acts 18, § 1. Regardless, because Jones
states in his amended complaint that he is incarcerated within Arkansas, he is not entitled to
Finally, Jones’ contention that the statute of limitations defense is barred because the Court
did not mention it when screening both of his complaints is without merit because the statute of
Jones filed the instant action while still a prisoner.
limitations is an affirmative defense. See, e.g., United States v. Soriano-Hernandez, 310 F.3d 1099,
1103-04 (8th Cir. 2002). Jones’ section 1983 claims against Gann and Wright are barred by the
applicable statute of limitations and must be dismissed with prejudice.
The parties also disagree about whether Jones’ malicious prosecution claim is barred by the
statute of limitations.2 Malicious prosecution by itself is not a constitutional injury and is not
punishable under section 1983. Kurtz v. City of Shrewsbury, 245 F.3d 753, 758 (8th Cir. 2001)
(citing Gunderson v. Schlueter, 904 F.2d 407, 409 (8th Cir. 1990)). Therefore, if Jones has a claim
for malicious prosecution against Gann and Wright, it is a state law claim. Because Jones’ section
1983 claims will be dismissed, the Court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Jones’
state law claim for malicious prosecution. See 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3).
For the foregoing reasons, the defendants’ motion to dismiss is GRANTED.3 Document #17.
It is ORDERED that:
Jones’ claims that arise under federal law are dismissed with prejudice;
Jones’ claims, if any, that arise under the laws of the State of Arkansas are dismissed
This dismissal counts as a strike for purposes of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g); and
It is not clear that Jones states a malicious prosecution claim against Gann and Wright in
his amended complaint. Nevertheless, the defendants concede in their briefs that Jones has alleged
such a claim.
Document #21, filed by Jones, is entitled, “Brief for Motion for Summary Judgment”—but
appears in substance to be a responsive pleading to the defendants’ motion to dismiss. To the extent
Jones’ filing could be construed as a motion for summary judgment, it is dismissed as moot in light
of the Court’s instant ruling in favor of the defendants.
The Court certifies that an in forma pauperis appeal from the order and judgment
dismissing this action would be frivolous and not in good faith.
IT IS SO ORDERED this 11th day of January, 2012.
J. LEON HOLMES
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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