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KNOX v. LANE

November 22, 1989

PAUL KNOX, Plaintiff,
v.
MICHAEL LANE, et al., Defendants


Milton I. Shadur, United States District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: SHADUR

MILTON I. SHADUR, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

 Stateville Correctional Center ("Stateville") inmate Paul Knox ("Knox") tenders his self-prepared civil rights Complaint under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 ("Section 1983"), asking leave to file without prepayment of the filing fee. Knox sues in six separate counts challenging, on a variety of constitutional grounds, the reprimand and loss of job described in the next paragraph. For the reasons stated in this memorandum opinion and order, this Court finds the statute of limitations bars the claims asserted in all six counts of the Complaint and therefore (1) denies leave to file and (2) dismisses this action.

 Facts1

 On May 7, 1986 Knox received a disciplinary ticket for failing to respond to an officer's request to lock up. That ticket led to disciplinary proceedings that resulted in a reprimand to Knox. In addition, on the morning after Knox received the ticket, a correctional officer informed him he was fired from his prison job. Knox contested the firing through the administrative grievance procedure, but the Administrative Review Board denied Knox's grievance on October 23, 1986.

 Statute of Limitations

 Section 1983 has no self-contained limitations period. Instead it borrows the forum state's statute of limitations for general personal injury actions sounding in tort ( Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S. 261, 276-79, 85 L. Ed. 2d 254, 105 S. Ct. 1938 (1985)). Where as here a Section 1983 claim is Illinois-based, Kalimara v. Illinois Department of Corrections, 879 F.2d 276, 277 (7th Cir. 1989) (per curiam) has definitively identified the two-year period provided by Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 110, para. 13-202 ("Section 13-202" *fn2" ) as controlling.

 Knox tendered his Complaint October 16, 1989, well past the two-year limit specified in Kalimara as to each of his claims. But this Court must look not only to the bare provisions of the limitations statute but also to any applicable Illinois tolling provision ( Hardin v. Straub, 490 U. S. 536, 104 L. Ed. 2d 582, 109 S. Ct. 1998, 2000 (1989)). If any state enacts a tolling provision recognizing incarceration as a disability, the federal courts within that state must apply the tolling provision when determining the timeliness of an inmate's Section 1983 suit ( id., 109 S. Ct. at 2003).

 Illinois has traditionally tolled the statute of limitations for actions accruing while a person is imprisoned (see Knox v. Cook County Sheriff's Police Department, 866 F.2d 905, 907 (7th Cir. 1988)). But effective November 23, 1987 *fn3" the Illinois General Assembly amended Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 110, para. 13-211 ("Section 13-211") to remove a broad class of litigation from the reach of the tolling provision previously available to prison inmates. Now that statute reads:

 By excluding actions against correctional officials from any relief via tolling, Section 13-211 effectively makes all prison-related inmate Section 1983 suits subject to the general two-year limitations period endorsed by Kalimara. If applied retroactively, the amendment would unquestionably bar all Knox's claims because they are (1) against prison officials and (2) based on injuries Knox suffered more than two years earlier. That prospect mandates examination of the Illinois rules as to the retroactive effect to be given to a statute or amendment shortening a limitations period.

 Phillips Products Co. v. Industrial Commission, 94 Ill. 2d 200, 203-04, 446 N.E.2d 234, 236, 68 Ill. Dec. 500 (1983) states the well-settled general rule in Illinois:

 
An amendment shortening a statute of limitations is applied retroactively if application of the amendment leaves the claimant with a reasonable amount of time after the amendment's effective date to file his claim.

 In making that "reasonable amount of time" determination, courts look first to the period between the effective date of the amendment and the date on which the pre-existing cause of action would be barred under the amendment as applied ( Moore v. Jackson Park Hospital, 95 Ill. 2d 223, 233, 447 N.E.2d 408, 412, 69 Ill. Dec. 191 (1983); see Anton v. Lehpamer, 787 F.2d 1141, 1146 n. 6 (7th Cir. 1986)). If a reasonable period remains under the statute as amended, the new period applies; if not, the court provides a reasonable period ( Mega v. Holy Cross Hospital, 111 Ill. 2d 416, 420-21, 490 N.E.2d 665, 667, 95 Ill, Dec. 812 (1986)). "What ...


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