735 F.3d 588 (7th Cir. 2013), 13-1058, Serino v. Hensley

Docket Nº:13-1058.
Citation:735 F.3d 588
Opinion Judge:FLAUM, Circuit Judge.
Party Name:Christian SERINO, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Alec HENSLEY and City of Oakland City, Indiana, Defendants-Appellees.
Attorney:John A. Goodridge, Attorney, Evansville, IN, for Plaintiff-Appellant. D. Timothy Born, Attorney, Dwight T. Born, Attorney, Terrell Baugh Salmon & Born LLP, Evansville, IN, for Defendant-Appellee.
Judge Panel:Before WOOD, Chief Judge, and FLAUM and SYKES, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:November 04, 2013
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

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735 F.3d 588 (7th Cir. 2013)

Christian SERINO, Plaintiff-Appellant,


Alec HENSLEY and City of Oakland City, Indiana, Defendants-Appellees.

No. 13-1058.

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit.

November 4, 2013

Argued Sept. 25, 2013.

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John A. Goodridge, Attorney, Evansville, IN, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

D. Timothy Born, Attorney, Dwight T. Born, Attorney, Terrell Baugh Salmon & Born LLP, Evansville, IN, for Defendant-Appellee.

Before WOOD, Chief Judge, and FLAUM and SYKES, Circuit Judges.

FLAUM, Circuit Judge.

In September 2008, Oakland City Chief of Police Alec Hensley arrested Christian Serino for trespass and resisting law enforcement. The charges were eventually dropped. In March 2012, Serino filed suit against Hensley and Oakland City in federal district court. He alleged that Hensley violated his constitutional rights and

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committed multiple state-law torts. The district court dismissed each of Serino's federal and state claims at the Rule 12(b)(6) stage. We now affirm.

I. Background

In reviewing a motion to dismiss, we accept the facts of the plaintiff's complaint as true. Parish v. City of Elkhart, 614 F.3d 677, 678 n. 1 (7th Cir.2010). Serino alleged the following: in 2008, he was employed as a soccer coach at Oakland City University in Oakland City, Indiana. On September 11, 2008, the university's Vice President of Administration and Finance informed Serino that he was suspended from his position. The Vice President then contacted Alec Hensley, the Chief of Police of the Oakland City Police Department, and told him to come to the university's Tichenor Athletic Center to speak to Serino. Hensley complied. He confronted Serino and told him that he was trespassing " since [Serino] refused to leave the premises." Hensley then arrested Serino for trespass.

On September 15, 2008, Serino was arraigned on charges of trespass and resisting law enforcement. The state ultimately dismissed both charges: the former on April 3, 2009, and the latter on March 31, 2010. Until that time, Serino " was forced to defend the frivolous and malicious criminal charges waged against him upon the false and misleading recommendations of the defendants."

On March 28, 2012, Serino brought an action in federal district court against Hensley and Oakland City. He alleged two § 1983 claims: false arrest in violation of the Fourth Amendment, and malicious prosecution in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. He also included Indiana tort claims for false arrest, malicious prosecution, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The defendants moved to dismiss Serino's complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), and the district court granted their motion. The court found that Serino's § 1983 and state-law false arrest claims were time-barred; that his § 1983 malicious prosecution claim was not cognizable as a constitutional claim; and that his state-law claims for malicious prosecution and IIED were barred by the defendants' immunity under the Indiana Tort Claims Act. Serino now appeals.

II. Discussion

We review a Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal de novo. Zellner v. Herrick, 639 F.3d 371, 378 (7th Cir.2011). We may affirm the district court's decision on any ground contained in the record. Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 578 (7th Cir.2009).

A. Federal and State False Arrest Claims

First, the district court dismissed Serino's § 1983 and state-law claims for false arrest 1 as time-barred. We agree.

1. § 1983 False Arrest

To begin with the federal claim: in § 1983 actions, federal courts apply the statute of limitations governing personal injury actions in the state where the injury took place. Hondo, Inc. v. Sterling, 21 F.3d 775, 778 (7th Cir.1994). In Indiana, such claims must be brought within two years. Ind.Code § 34-11-2-4. But federal law determines when that statute begins to run. Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 388, 127 S.Ct. 1091, 166 L.Ed.2d 973 (2007).

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The general rule is that a § 1983 claim accrues " when the plaintiff knows or has reason to know of the injury which is the basis of his action." Hondo, 21 F.3d at 778. There is a specific rule, however, for false arrest claims. The Supreme Court held that for these claims, the action begins to run " at the time the claimant becomes detained pursuant to legal process" — that is, when the arrestee is bound over by a magistrate or arraigned on charges. Wallace, 549 U.S. at 397, 127 S.Ct. 1091; accord City of Elkhart, 614 F.3d at 682. Thus, Serino needed to bring his false arrest claim by September 15, 2010— two years after his arraignment. He did not file his complaint until March 28, 2012. His claim is time-barred.

Serino argues that the statute did not begin to run until March 31, 2010, the day the state dropped his second criminal charge. He invokes Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 114 S.Ct. 2364, 129 L.Ed.2d 383 (1994), in which the Supreme Court held that a § 1983 claim based on an unconstitutional conviction does not accrue until the conviction has been invalidated. Id. at 489-90, 114 S.Ct. 2364. Serino's theory is that the Heck rule operated to delay the accrual of his false arrest claim— a claim that could imply that the charges against him were meritless— until there was no longer a pending state criminal proceeding. But this argument is a non-starter, because Heck relied on the principle " that civil tort actions," as opposed to habeas corpus petitions, " are not appropriate vehicles for challenging the validity of outstanding criminal judgments." Id. at 486, 114 S.Ct. 2364 (emphasis added). And in Wallace, the Supreme Court explicitly clarified that " the Heck rule for deferred accrual is called into play only when there exists a ‘ conviction or sentence that has not been ... invalidated,’ that is to say, an ‘ an outstanding criminal judgment.’ " 549 U.S. at 393, 127 S.Ct. 1091 (emphasis omitted). Here, as in Wallace, Serino was never convicted. As such, at the time Serino's false arrest claim began to accrue, " there was in existence no criminal conviction that the cause of action would impugn." Id. Heck cannot help Serino here.

2. State-Law False Arrest

Indiana's two-year statute of limitations also bars Serino's state false arrest claim. In reviewing a state tort claim, we apply Indiana law regarding the applicable limitations period and when the claim accrues. City of Elkhart, 614 F.3d at 679. Conveniently, Indiana has embraced...

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