United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Russ Walker United States Magistrate Judge
This 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action is pending before the court
on a complaint filed by David Mann on November 15,
2017. Mann is an indigent Alabama inmate
currently incarcerated at the Elmore Correctional Facility.
instant complaint, Mann complains that in May of 2007, state
correctional officials transferred him to a private prison in
Louisiana in violation of his constitutional rights and state
law. Doc. 1 at 5. Mann seeks compensatory and punitive
damages. Id. at 6.
review of the complaint, the court concludes that dismissal
of this case prior to service of process is appropriate under
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i).
Constitutionality of Transfer and Confinement in a Louisiana
alleges that his transfer in May of 2007 to a private prison
in Louisiana violated his constitutional rights. It is clear
from the complaint that Mann's claims challenging the
constitutionality of actions taken by Alabama correctional
officials in May of 2007 are barred by the statute of
limitations applicable to a federal civil action filed in
this court by an inmate under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
All constitutional claims brought under § 1983 are tort
actions, subject to the statute of limitations governing
personal injury actions in the state where the § 1983
action has been brought. Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S.
261, 275-76, 105 S.Ct. 1938, 1946-47, 85 L.Ed.2d 254 (1985).
[The plaintiff's] claim was brought in Alabama where the
governing limitations period is two years. Ala. Code §
6-2-38; Jones v. Preuit & Mauldin, 876 F.2d
1480, 1483 (11th Cir. 1989) (en banc). Therefore, in order to
have his claim heard, [the plaintiff is] required to bring it
within two years from the date the limitations period began
McNair v. Allen, 515 F.3d 1168, 1173 (11th Cir.
actions about which Mann complains occurred in May of 2007.
By its express terms, the tolling provision of Ala.
Code § 6-2-8(a) affords no relief to Mann from
application of the time bar. Thus, the statute of limitations
relevant to the claims presented in the complaint began to
run in May of 2007 and ran uninterrupted until its expiration
sometime in May of 2009. Mann filed the instant complaint on
November 15, 2017. The filing of this civil action therefore
occurred over eight years after expiration of the applicable
period of limitations.
the statute of limitations is generally a matter which may be
raised as an affirmative defense. The court notes, however,
that in a § 1983 action filed by a plaintiff proceeding
in forma pauperis, it may sua sponte consider
affirmative defenses that are apparent from the face of the
complaint. Clark v. Georgia Pardons and Parole
Board, 915 F.2d 636, 640 n.2 (11th Cir. 1990); see
also Ali v. Higgs, 892 F.2d 438, 440 (5th Cir. 1990)
(“[I]n an action proceeding under section 1915(d) [-
the in forma pauperis statute now codified as §
1915(e)(2)(B)(i) -], [a court] may consider, sua sponte,
affirmative defenses that are apparent from the record even
where they have not been addressed or raised in the district
court. In so doing, [the court is] following consistently the
special treatment given to section 1915 suits.”).
Consequently, with respect to a complaint filed in forma
pauperis, “if the district court sees that an
affirmative defense would defeat the action, a section
1915[(e)(2)(B)] dismissal is allowed.” Clark,
915 F.2d at 640. “The expiration of the statute of
limitations is an affirmative defense the existence of which
warrants dismissal as frivolous.” Id. at n.2
(internal citation omitted).
analyzing § 1983 cases, “the court is authorized
to test the proceeding for frivolousness or maliciousness
even before service of process or before the filing of the
answer.” Ali, 892 F.2d at 440. “It
necessarily follows that in the absence of the defendant or
defendants, the district court must evaluate the merit of the
claim sua sponte.” Id.
An early determination of the merits of an IFP proceeding
provides a significant benefit to courts (because it will
allow them to use their scarce resources effectively and
efficiently), to state officials (because it will free them
from the burdens of frivolous and harassing litigation), and
to prisoners (because courts will have the time, energy and
inclination to give meritorious claims the attention they
need and deserve). “We must take ...