Seventh Circuit Affirms Dismissal Of False Arrest Claim

Plaintiff Prince Foryoh alleged that on July 10, 2001 the police stopped his car without reason and arrested him using excessive force. Foryoh was released a few hours later and criminal charges were filed but later dismissed. Plaintiff filed suit on May 18, 2005 under 42 USC 1983 against Regina Hannah-Porter, one of the arresting officers. The Seventh Circuit held that plaintiff's claim for wrongful arrest accrued when he was released from custody on July 10, 2001, citing the Supreme Court's recent decision in Wallace v. Kato. The court also held that plaintiff's claims based on excessive force and unlawful search accrued a few hours earlier the same day, as soon as plaintiff sustained injury for those alleged wrongs. The court confirmed that the time limit for Section 1983 claims in Illinois is two years, not the five-year residual statute of limitations that plaintiff had argued should apply.

Supreme Court Highlights Re: Statute Of Limitations In False Arrest Claims

Here are some highlights from the United States Supreme Court's opinion in Andrew Wallace v. Kato, et al regarding the statute of limitations in false arrest claims. First, the court noted that "[w]hile we have never stated so expressly, the accrual date of a 1983 cause of action is a question of federal law that is not resolved by reference to state law."  Second, the court stated that "limitations begin to run against an action for false imprisonment when the alleged false imprisonment ends." Third, the court held that "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." In the case of Andre Wallace, the Supreme Court concluded that "the statute of limitations on petitioner's 1983 claim commenced to run when he appeared before the examining magistrate and was bound over for trial." Since more than two years (Illinois statute of limitations for personal injury torts) had elapsed between the date when Wallace appeared before the magistrate and was bound over for trial and the filing of his suit, his action was time-barred.

US Supreme Court Affirms Wallace v. Kato Ruling

The United States Supreme Court has affirmed the Seventh Circuit's holding in Wallace v. Kato, et al. The Supreme Court, in an opinion authored by Justice Scalia, held that the statute of limitations upon a section 1983 claim seeking damages for false arrest in violation of the Fourth Amendment, where the arrest is followed by criminal proceedings, begins to run at the time the claimant becomes detained pursuant to to legal process. As background, in January 1994, the Chicago police arrested Wallace for murder. He was tried and convicted, but the charges were later dropped in April 2002. In April 2003, Wallace filed suit under section 1983 against the City of Chicago and several police offices , seeking damages for, among other things, his alleged unlawful arrest in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The District Court granted summary judgment and the Seventh Circuit affirmed, ruling that the section 1983 suit was time barred because Wallace's cause of action accrued at the time of his arrest,  not when his conviction was later set aside. In a written opinion dated February 21, 2007, the United States Supreme Court affirmed the Seventh Circuit's ruling. The case was argued before the Supreme Court by Benna Ruth Solomon on behalf of the City of Chicago.

Judge Sidney I. Schenkier Grants City of Chicago's Motion to Dismiss and Dismisses Steven Hudson's False Confession, False Arrest and Excessive Force Claims As Time-Barred

On December 5, 2006, in a 13-page Memorandum Opinion and Order, Northern District of Illinois Judge Sidney I. Schenkier granted the defendants' (City of Chicago, James Cassidy, & Wayne Bunch) motion to dismiss and dismissed plaintiff Steven Hudson's false confession, false arrest, and excessive force claims. Plaintiff Hudson alleged that on November 5, 1998, detectives Bunch and Cassidy interrogated him about a recent murder and put their thumbs in his eyes, used a device to electrocute and shock him, punched and kicked him, and threatened to take away his son if he did not confess. Hudson alleged he finally confessed and that Cassidy told him what to say in the confession. Based on that confession, Hudson was charged with murder. Hudson brought a motion to suppress his confession, which was granted by the trial judge on August 13, 2001. The State's appeal of this ruling was dismissed on April 9, 2003. On October 1, 2003, prosecutors nolle prosequied the charges. Hudson filed his suit on September 29, 2005.Both parties agreed that the two-year statute of limitations governed plaintiff's Section 1983 claims, but the parties disagreed over when those claims accrued. Judge Schenkier held that the accrual issue was governed by the Seventh Circuit's decision in Wallace v. City of Chicago, 440 F.3d 421 (7th Cir. 2006), cert granted, 126 S.Ct. 2891 (2006). As to Hudson's excessive force claim, Judge Schenkier held that it was "within the 'normal run' of claims to which the Wallace accrual rule applies" and that "Hudson had two years from November 5, 1998 in which to file his excessive force claim," which he failed to do. As to Hudson's false arrest claim, Judge Schenkier held that "[t]his is not a case where Mr. Hudson's false arrest claim would implicate either element of his criminal prosecution for murder. Indeed, Mr. Hudson's Heck argument is indistinguishable from the false arrest argument raised by the Wallace plaintiff." Thus, Judge Schenkier held that Wallace's accrual controlled the false arrest claim and that Hudson's false arrest claim accrued on November 5, 1998 and was time-barred. As to Hudson's false confession claim, Judge Schenkier held that "[t]o the extent that the claim is premised on physical and psychological coercion resulting in a false confession, we find that the analysis that governs the date of accrual for excessive force claims governs here as well." Judge Schenkier also held that to the extent Hudson was claiming his substantive due process rights were violated, "[w]e see nothing in Wallace that creates a different test for accrual of substantive due process claims than that used for constitutional violations."  Finally, Judge Schenkier dismissed Hudson's indemnity claim against the City of Chicago based on the Illinois Tort Immunity Act, 745 ILCS 10/9-102, since there was no longer any viable claim against defendants Cassidy and Bunch.