MOODY v. CONROY et al
MEMORANDUM. AN APPROPRIATE ORDER FOLLOWS.. SIGNED BY HONORABLE BERLE M. SCHILLER ON 7/24/17. 7/24/17 ENTERED AND COPIES MAILED TO PLFF., E-MAILED TO COUNSEL.(pr, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
JUDE CONROY, et al.,
July 24, 2017
Seven years ago, Brandon Moody sued Detective John Verrechio, Detective Thomas
Gaul, Assistant District Attorney Jude Conroy, and the City of Philadelphia (collectively,
“Defendants”) for alleged constitutional violations. Defendants filed motions to dismiss on
statute of limitations grounds, which the Court granted, and Moody appealed. In February, the
Third Circuit remanded this case to determine whether Moody’s lawsuit was timely filed under
the prison mailbox rule. Defendants now argue that even under the prison mailbox rule, Moody
commenced his lawsuit on May 21, 2010—one day outside the statute of limitations. The Court
agrees. For the reasons set forth below, the Court again grants Defendants’ motions to dismiss.
Moody alleged that on May 14, 2008, while housed as a pre-trial detainee at Curran
Fromhold Correctional Facility, a sergeant and three correctional officers entered his cell and
seized his mail. (Second Am. Compl. ¶ 10.) The mail included privileged correspondence
between Moody and his attorney, and other papers relating to Moody’s legal defense. (Id. ¶¶ 10–
11.) The officers claimed the seizure was “pursuant to a court order from the District Attorney’s
Office.” (Id. ¶ 10.) Moody argued that the court order was forged. (Id. ¶ 14.) He further alleged
that the confiscation of his personal mail was commenced by Verrechio on Gaul’s behalf, and
that Verrechio subsequently provided the mail to Conroy. (Id. ¶¶ 25–26.) Moody sued
Defendants under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985, claiming they violated his rights under the First,
Fourth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments. (Id. 1)
Defendants filed motions to dismiss in September 2015. On October 30, 2015, the Court
granted Defendants’ motions to dismiss on statute of limitations grounds. The Court concluded
that the two-year statute of limitations period commenced on May 20, 2008, but that Moody had
filed his in forma pauperis motion on May 24, 2010, after the statute of limitations had run.
(Mem. Op. 4–5, ECF No. 60.)1
Moody subsequently filed a motion for reconsideration, arguing that the Court failed to
properly account for the prison mailbox rule. (Pl.’s Mot. Recons. 13.) Moody claimed in his
motion that “the accurate date that should be assessed as the date he filed the IFP request should
be the date it was signed, but no later than the date he handed the documents over to be mailed
which was documented as of May 21, 2010.” (Id.) He also provided a cash slip form and an
inmate account statement as evidence supporting his contention. (Id. Exs. C (cash slip), D
(account statement).) The handwritten cash slip form requested that officials “deduct the required
funds” necessary to mail 10 envelopes, and was dated May 21, 2010. (Id. Ex. C.) The inmate
account statement listed various transactions, and Moody noted the two postage expenses
incurred on May 21, 2010. (Id. Ex. D.) The Court denied Moody’s motion for reconsideration
and he appealed.
For the purpose of the statute of limitations, filing an IFP motion commences the lawsuit. See,
e.g., Howard v. Masterson, Civ. A. No. 06-5632, 2009 WL 5184476, at *1 (E.D. Pa. Dec. 21,
The Third Circuit determined that at the motion to dismiss stage, Moody had adequately
pled facts sufficient to toll the statute of limitations until May 20, 2010. Moody v. Conroy, Civ.
A. No. 16-1018, 2017 WL 775823, at *2–3 (3d Cir. Feb. 28, 2017). Because Moody provided a
certificate of service dated May 20, 2010, with his initial IFP filing, the court stated that
Moody’s action may have fallen within the statute of limitations. Id. at *3. The Third Circuit
remanded the case to this Court to decide whether Moody’s action was timely filed under the
prison mailbox rule. Id.
Under the prison mailbox rule, a pro se inmate files a document at the moment he
delivers it to the relevant prison authorities to be sent to the court. Houston v. Lack, 487 U.S.
266, 275–76 (1988). The date of delivery to prison authorities is used because after that moment,
the inmate loses any control over the document and has no further ability to ensure that it timely
reaches the district court. Id. at 271–72.
In “the absence of contrary evidence,” the date of delivery is often assumed to be the date
that the document was signed by the inmate. U.S. v. Thomas, Civ. A. No. 12-282, 2015 WL
2126911, at *1 n.1 (E.D. Pa. May 5, 2015); e.g., Butler v. Walsh, 846 F. Supp. 2d 324, 327 n.3
(E.D. Pa. 2012) (same). But when contrary evidence exists—such as cash slips or account
statements—courts will use the date indicated by those records to determine when the inmate
delivered the documents. See, e.g., Suny v. Pennsylvania, Civ. A. No. 12-1469, 2014 WL
772439, at *10 (E.D. Pa. Feb. 27, 2014) (finding a cash slip to be “sufficient proof that Petitioner
gave his PCRA petition to prison authorities on October 18, 2007”); Nichols v. Coleman, Civ. A.
No. 08-2445, 2008 WL 7631529, at *2 n.4 (E.D. Pa. Dec. 4, 2008) (holding that although the
date of petitioner’s signature was May 19, 2008, the date of delivery of the Petition for Writ of
Habeas Corpus to prison authorities was May 21, 2008, which was “the date of the signature of
the prison accounting official and the date on the inmate account balance sheet”).
Moody argues in his supplemental briefing that May 19, 2010, should be the operative
date of filing because that is when he had all the requisite documents completed. (Pl.’s Suppl. Br.
2, ECF No. 81.) And Moody’s IFP petition does include a certificate of service dated May 20,
2010. (Pl.’s Proof of Service.) But Moody himself has provided contrary evidence that his IFP
motion was delivered to prison authorities on May 21, 2010. Moody attached a copied version of
a cash slip form, dated May 21, 2010, in which he asks funds to be withdrawn to pay for the
mailing of 10 envelopes. (Pl.’s Mot. Recons. 13, Ex. C.) Moody also attached an inmate account
statement and highlighted “postage” transactions dated May 21, 2010. (Id. Ex. D.) Most
importantly, Moody conceded in his motion for reconsideration that he provided the documents
to the prison authorities on May 21, 2010. (Id. 13.)
These three pieces of contrary evidence, proffered by Moody himself, demonstrate that
Moody delivered his IFP motion to the prison authorities for mailing on May 21, 2010. As a
result, the Court finds that Moody filed his IFP motion one day after the statute of limitations had
run. Accordingly, the Court will again grant Defendants’ motions to dismiss.
For the foregoing reasons, the Court grants Defendants’ motions to dismiss. An Order
consistent with this Memorandum will be docketed separately.
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