614 F.3d 677 (7th Cir. 2010), 09-2056, Parish v. City of Elkhart

Docket Nº:09-2056.
Citation:614 F.3d 677
Opinion Judge:FLAUM, Circuit Judge.
Party Name:Christopher PARISH, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. CITY OF ELKHART, et al., Defendants-Appellees.
Attorney:Jon C. Loevy, Attorney, Gayle Horn, Attorney, Loevy & Loevy, Chicago, IL, for Plaintiff-Appellant. Dane L. Tubergen, Attorney, Hunt Suedhoff Kalamoros, Fort Wayne, IN, for Defendants-Appellees.
Judge Panel:Before POSNER, FLAUM and WILLIAMS, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:July 30, 2010
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
 
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Page 677

614 F.3d 677 (7th Cir. 2010)

Christopher PARISH, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants,

v.

CITY OF ELKHART, et al., Defendants-Appellees.

No. 09-2056.

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit.

July 30, 2010

Argued April 9, 2010.

Page 678

Jon C. Loevy, Attorney, Gayle Horn, Attorney, Loevy & Loevy, Chicago, IL, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

Dane L. Tubergen, Attorney, Hunt Suedhoff Kalamoros, Fort Wayne, IN, for Defendants-Appellees.

Before POSNER, FLAUM and WILLIAMS, Circuit Judges.

FLAUM, Circuit Judge.

In this case, we are confronted with the question of when claims of police misconduct resulting in false arrest, false imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress (" IIED" ), accrue for the purpose of the general two-year statute of limitation in Indiana. After serving eight years of a thirty-year prison sentence for attempted murder, plaintiff-appellant, Christopher Parish, was released from prison and the charges were dropped. After his release, Parish filed a complaint against the City of Elkhart and several officers who worked the case. Parish brought two claims under § 1983 for violations of his constitutional rights and three claims for violations of his rights under state law. The district court dismissed all of Parish's state law claims on the ground that they were barred by Indiana's statute of limitations. Inherent in that decision was the ruling that the claims accrued at the time of arrest and at the time Parish was held over for trial rather than at the time Parish was exonerated. Parish appeals. We affirm the district court's dismissal of the false arrest and false imprisonment claims. We reverse the district court's dismissal of Parish's claim for IIED.

I. Background1

On the evening of October 29, 1996, Michael Kershner was shot in the abdomen outside his mother's home in Elkhart, Indiana. When the police arrived at the scene, Kershner's family told the officers that the shooting occurred inside the home during a home invasion. There was no evidence of a home invasion because none took place; the shooting occurred in a parking lot during a drug deal. Still, despite a lack of corroborating evidence the police pursued the home invasion theory. Parish was arrested and tried on the theory that he was one of two individuals who broke into the home and shot Kershner. At trial, Parish introduced evidence that he was in Illinois at the time of the shooting and therefore could not have committed this crime. Parish did not challenge the state's evidence regarding the location of the shooting or the circumstances surrounding the shooting. The jury found Parish guilty and the court sentenced Parish to thirty years in prison.

In 2006, after eight years of post-conviction litigation, Parish's conviction was vacated. During the post-conviction litigation, evidence came out that the shooting occurred outside of the home and that the police coerced several witnesses into identifying Parish as the shooter. The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the denial of Parish's petition for post-conviction relief and the state then dropped the charges. Shortly thereafter, Parish, Parish's children,

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Parish's fiancée, and Parish's mother filed suit against the City of Elkhart and three former officers of the city's police department. The key factual allegation in the complaint is: " Almost immediately after the Kershner shooting, defendants Rezutko, Abrose, Cutler, and the other law enforcement defendants determined to falsely implicate Parish and to build a false case against him, with the aim of securing his false arrest and then his false imprisonment." (Complaint, ¶ 16.) The complaint further alleges that to accomplish these goals, " the officers used improper and suggestive interview and photo identification techniques, manipulated witnesses, threatened or coerced witnesses, engaged in staging a crime scene in Kershner's mother's apartment, and further fabricated and destroyed evidence." (Complaint, ¶ 17.) Crucial to our analysis, the complaint also alleges that, in carrying out these acts, " the law enforcement defendants kept secret and failed to disclose what they had done or how they had done it." (Complaint, ¶ 20.)

Parish's complaint alleged two § 1983 claims (denial of the right to a fair trial and false arrest) and four supplemental state law claims (false arrest, false imprisonment, IIED, and malicious prosecution). Defendants moved to dismiss all of the claims. Parish did not challenge the motion to dismiss the § 1983 false arrest claim or the state law malicious prosecution claim. The district court denied the motion to dismiss with regard to the § 1983 denial of a fair trial claim. The district court granted the motion to dismiss with regard to the state law claims for false arrest, false imprisonment, and IIED on the ground that they are time-barred. Parish initially appealed the dismissal of all state law claims.2 However, at oral argument Parish conceded that the district court properly found that the claims for false arrest and false imprisonment were timed-barred. Therefore, the only remaining issue in this appeal is whether the district court properly dismissed the IIED claim.

II. Discussion

We review an appeal from a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) de novo. Johnson v. Rivera, 272 F.3d 519, 520 (7th Cir.2001). When reviewing a motion to dismiss, we accept all facts alleged in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Id. Whether the claim for IIED is barred by Indiana's two-year statute of limitations, which would make dismissal of the claim appropriate, is the only issue on appeal. Because this is a state law claim, we apply Indiana law regarding the statute of limitations and any rules that are an integral part of the statute of limitations, such as tolling and equitable estoppel. Hollander v. Brown, 457 F.3d 688, 694 (7th Cir.2006). The parties agree that the timeliness of Parish's claim is governed by Indiana Code 34-11-2-4, which requires that an action be brought within two years of the date on which the action accrued. If the claim accrued at the time of arrest, then this claim is time-barred. If the claim accrued at the time Parish was exonerated, this claim is not time-barred. We take our inquiry in two steps. First, we determine, from a purely legal standpoint, when a claim for IIED accrues under Indiana law. Then we turn

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to the specific facts of this case and apply that rule.

A. The Legal Principles Governing When a Claim for IIED Accrues

There are four cases that are directly relevant to the analysis of when a claim for IIED accrues under Indiana law. Two cases come from the Supreme Court of the United States: Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 114 S.Ct. 2364, 129 L.Ed.2d 383 (1994), and Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 127 S.Ct. 1091, 166 L.Ed.2d 973 (2007). Two cases come from the Indiana courts: Scruggs v. Allen County/City of Fort Wayne, 829 N.E.2d 1049 (Ind.Ct.App.2005), and Johnson v. Blackwell, 885 N.E.2d 25 (Ind.Ct.App.2008).3 We review these cases in chronological order because each case is informed by the preceding cases.

In Heck v. Humphrey, the Supreme Court addressed the issue of whether an individual convicted of a state crime could bring a § 1983 claim against the prosecutors and investigators involved with the state conviction for engaging in an " unlawful, unreasonable, and arbitrary investigation" leading to the plaintiff's arrest, destroying exculpatory evidence, and employing an illegal voice identification procedure at trial, while the state conviction was still valid. 512 U.S. 477, 114 S.Ct. 2364, 129 L.Ed.2d 383. The Court found that the petitioner could not pursue the § 1983 action because the § 1983 action served as a collateral attack on the conviction through a procedure other than habeas corpus. Id. at 485, 114 S.Ct. 2364. To arrive at this holding, the Court specifically analyzed the claims in the complaint and found that the claims directly attacked the validity of the conviction. Id. at 486-87, 114 S.Ct. 2364. The Court analogized the claims to the common law tort of malicious prosecution. Id. at 484, 114 S.Ct. 2364. Following the common law principle that a plaintiff cannot bring a claim for malicious prosecution until the prior criminal proceedings have been terminated in his favor, the Court found that the plaintiff in Heck could not bring the claims in his complaint until his conviction had been overturned. Id. The Court carefully limited its holding to claims that directly attack the validity of the conviction:

We hold that, in order to recover damages for allegedly unconstitutional conviction or imprisonment, or for other harm caused by actions whose unlawfulness would render a conviction or sentence invalid, a § 1983 plaintiff must prove that the conviction or sentence has been reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive order, declared invalid by a state tribunal...

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