United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Eastern Division
June 9, 2015
MONTAY D. HODGE, Plaintiff,
STANLEY GARRETT, et al., Defendants.
RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE
SUSAN RUSS WALKER, Chief Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff, an inmate incarcerated at the Lee County Detention Center in Opelika, Alabama, filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 complaint on April 19, 2015, against Stanley Garrett and Michael Rodgers. Plaintiff alleges that rights, privileges, or immunities afforded him under the Constitution or laws of the United States were abridged due to the conduct and actions of Defendants during a final hearing regarding the revocation of his supervised release. Plaintiff seeks punitive damages. Upon review, the court concludes that dismissal of the complaint prior to service of process is appropriate under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
On March 15, 2013, Plaintiff appeared before this court with appointed counsel for a final revocation hearing regarding his supervised release. See United States v. Hodge, Criminal Action No. 3:03-CR-144-MHT (M.D. Ala.). Defendants Garrett and Rodgers testified. Plaintiff alleges that the testimony presented by Defendants at the hearing violated his right to due process. Doc. No. 1 at 2-4.
Plaintiff's attempt to challenge the constitutionality of Defendants' conduct and or actions during his March 15, 2013, final revocation hearing is barred by the statute of limitations applicable to actions filed by an inmate under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Federal courts must look to state law to determine, first, what statute of limitations is applicable, and second, whether that limitations period is tolled. Whitson v. Baker, 755 F.2d 1406, 1409 (11th Cir. 1985). Selection of a limitations period for § 1983 actions changed several times [between 1985 and 1989]. Alabama law, however, provides that the applicable limitations period is the one in effect when the claim is filed, not when the cause of action arose. Tyson v. Johns Manville Sales Corp., 399 So.2d 263, 269-70 (Ala. 1981). It is undisputed that § 1983 claims were subject to a two year limitations period at that time. See Jones v. Preuit & Mauldin, 876 F.2d 1480, 1483-84 (11th Cir. 1989) (Jones II).
Dukes v. Smitherman, 32 F.3d 535, 537 (11th Cir. 1994). When Plaintiff filed the instant complaint, the statute of limitations for actions brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 was two years. Owens v. Okure, 488 U.S. 235, 249-250 (1989)(the proper statute of limitations for § 1983 actions is the forum state's general or residual statute of limitations for personal injury actions); see also Lufkin v. McCallum, 956 F.2d 1104, 1105 (11th Cir. 1992). In Alabama, the general statute of limitations for personal injury actions is two years. Ala. Code § 6-2-38(l).
Although the state statute of limitations applies, the time of accrual is a federal question. See Cox v. Stanton, 529 F.2d 47, 49-50 (4th Cir. 1975). The running of the statute of limitations begins when Plaintiff knows or has reason to know of his injury. Id.
Here, Plaintiff should have known of his injury on March 15, 2013, when he appeared with appointed counsel before this court for his final revocation hearing. See Criminal Case No.: 3:03-CR-144-MHT. Because Plaintiff failed to file the instant complaint until over two years after this time, the statute of limitations now bars consideration of his claim. This claim is, therefore, subject to dismissal as frivolous under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i). See Clark v. Georgia Pardons and Parole Board, 915 F.2d 636, 640 n.2 (11th Cir. 1990) (in an action proceeding under § 1983, the court may consider, sua sponte, affirmative defenses apparent from the face of the complaint); see also Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319 (1989).
Accordingly, it is the RECOMMENDATION of the Magistrate Judge that:
1. Plaintiff's claims challenging events which occurred on March 15, 2013, be DISMISSED with prejudice under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) as Plaintiff failed to file the complaint regarding these allegations within the time prescribed by the applicable statute of limitations;
2. This case be DISMISSED prior to service of process under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i).
It is further
ORDERED that on or before June 23, 2015, Plaintiff may file an objection to the Recommendation. Any objection filed must specifically identify the findings in the Magistrate Judge's Recommendation to which a party objects. Frivolous, conclusive or general objections will not be considered by the District Court. The parties are advised this Recommendation is not a final order and, therefore, it is not appealable.
Failure to file a written objection to the proposed findings and recommendations in the Magistrate Judge's report shall bar the party from a de novo determination by the District Court of issues covered in the report and shall bar the party from attacking on appeal factual findings in the report accepted or adopted by the District Court except upon grounds of plain error or manifest injustice. Nettles v. Wainwright, 677 F.2d 404 (5th Cir. 1982). See Stein v. Reynolds Securities, Inc., 667 F.2d 33 (11th Cir. 1982). See also Bonner v. City of Prichard, 661 F.2d 1206 (11th Cir. 1981) (en banc), adopting as binding precedent all of the decisions of the former Fifth Circuit handed down prior to the close of business on September 30, 1981.