United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Honorable Edmond E. Chang United States District Judge
James Brown, a former inmate at Cook County Jail, brings this
civil-rights lawsuit against Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart,
as well as the County itself. See R. 8, First Am.
Compl. In his complaint, Brown generally alleges
that the Defendants unlawfully imprisoned him in the Jail
beyond the term of his sentence and subjected him to inhumane
prison conditions. Id. Brown asserts that the
Defendants violated his rights under the Fourth, Eighth, and
Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution and falsely
imprisoned him in violation of Illinois state law.
Id. The Defendants now move for judgment on the
pleadings under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) on the
grounds that all of Brown's claims are time-barred.
See R. 14, Mot. J. Pleadings.
purposes of this motion, the Court accepts as true the
factual allegations in Brown's First Amended Complaint.
Hayes v. City of Chi., 670 F.3d 810, 813 (7th Cir.
2012). On July 19, 2013, Brown was sentenced to 300 days'
imprisonment after he violated parole. First Am. Compl.
¶ 13. With 221 days of good-time credit as of that date,
Brown had about 79 days of his sentence left to serve.
Id. After accounting for his good-time credit, the
sentencing judge set Brown's release date for September
12, 2013. Id. ¶ 14; see also R. 8-1,
07/19/13 Sentencing Hr'g Tr. at 8:19-20. Despite this,
Cook County Jail employees told Brown in August 2013 that he
would not be released until March 4, 2014. First Am. Compl.
¶ 3. (They had failed to record Brown's release date
as September 12, 2013. Id.) In response to this
news, Brown filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in
state court on September 10, 2013. Id. The hearing
on his petition was initially set for October 10, 2013, but
had to be rescheduled three times because Cook County Jail
employees allegedly refused to take Brown to
court. Id. ¶¶ 16-19. Finally,
on December 16, 2013, more than three months past his
original release date, Brown appeared before the sentencing
judge to present his petition. Id. ¶¶
hearing, the sentencing judge recalled that at the July 19,
2013 hearing, everyone-Brown, the prosecutor, and the
judge-agreed that Brown would be released around September
12, 2013. First Am. Compl. ¶ 22; R. 8-3, 12/16/13
Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus Tr. at 4:22-5:2. After
observing that “right now [Brown] is in jail three
months longer than I thought he would be, ” the
sentencing judge released Brown on a $50, 000
“I-bond” and scheduled a re-sentencing hearing
for January 17, 2014. 12/16/13 Petition for Writ of Habeas
Corpus Tr. at 6:11-15; see also First Am. Compl.
¶ 23. On January 17, the sentencing judge reaffirmed
that Brown should have been released on September 12, 2013
and ordered his bond discharged. First Am. Compl. ¶ 24.
on these allegations, Brown asserts five counts against the
Defendants. See First Am. Compl. In Counts One and
Two, Brown brings a Section 1983 claim against Dart and Cook
County respectively, alleging that the Defendants violated
the Fourth and Eighth Amendments when they failed to account
for his good-time credit. Id. ¶¶ 30-43.
Count Three is an Illinois state-law false imprisonment claim
against the Defendants. Id. ¶¶ 44-47. And
in Counts Four and Five, Brown brings a Section 1983 claim
against Dart and Cook County respectively, alleging that the
conditions of confinement at Cook County Jail violated the
Eighth Amendment's ban against cruel and unusual
punishment. Id. ¶¶ 48-59. The
Defendants move for judgment on the pleadings as to all of
Brown's claims, asserting that the claims were brought
too late under the applicable statutes of limitations.
Standard of Review
may move for judgment on the pleadings after the pleadings
are closed. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). A motion for judgment on the
pleadings is subject to the same standard as a motion to
dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). Hayes, 670 F.3d at 813.
In ruling on a motion for judgment on the pleadings, the
Court must accept all well-pled allegations as true and view
the alleged facts in the light most favorable to the
non-moving party. Id. Judgment on the pleadings is
proper if it appears beyond doubt that the non-moving party
cannot prove any set of facts sufficient to support his claim
for relief. Id. In ruling on a motion for judgment
on the pleadings, the Court considers the pleadings alone,
which consist of the complaint, the answer, and any documents
attached as exhibits. N. Ind. Gun & Outdoor Shows,
Inc. v. City of South Bend, 163 F.3d 449, 452 (7th Cir.
Defendants' motion boils down to one issue: when did
Brown's Section 1983 claims and his Illinois
false-imprisonment claim accrue? Brown's Section 1983
claims are subject to a two-year statute of limitations,
see Williams v. Lampe, 399 F.3d 867, 870 (7th Cir.
2005) (“A two-year statute of limitations generally
applies to personal injury actions in Illinois, 735 ILCS
5/13-202; thus, § 1983 claims in Illinois are also
governed by a two-year limitations period[.]” (citation
omitted)), and his state-law false imprisonment claim is
subject to a one-year statute of limitations, see
745 ILCS 10/8-101 (“No civil action … may be
commenced in any court against a local entity or any of its
employees for any injury unless it is commenced within one
year from the date that the injury was received or the cause
of action accrued.”); see also Long v.
Williams, 155 F.Supp.2d 938, 943-44 (N.D. Ill. 2001)
(applying one-year statute of limitations to common-law false
imprisonment claim). The Defendants maintain that all of
Brown's claims accrued-so the statute of limitations
began to run-on September 12, 2013, as soon as Brown was held
past his release date. R. 15, Defs.' Br. at 3-5.
Alternatively, they assert that his claims accrued on
December 16, 2013, when the sentencing judge released Brown
on a bond. Id. Because Brown did not file the
complaint until December 30, 2015, the Defendants argue that
even if Brown's claims did not accrue until December 16,
2013, all of his claims are nonetheless time-barred.
Id. Brown disagrees. He contends that his claims
accrued on January 17, 2014, when the state court judge
finally resentenced him and ordered his bond discharged. R.
23, Pl.'s Resp. Br. at 3-5. The Court addresses the date
of accrual for Brown's Section 1983 claims and his
state-law claim in turn.
Brown's Section 1983 Claims
Illinois state law is borrowed and sets the limitations
period for the Section 1983 claims, federal law governs the
date of accrual. Kelly v. City of Chi., 4 F.3d 509,
511 (7th Cir. 1993). “Accrual is the date on which the
statute of limitations begins to run.” Cada v.
Baxter Healthcare Corp., 920 F.2d 446, 450 (7th Cir.
1990). Typically, a cause of action accrues when “the
wrong that injures the plaintiff occurs.” Id.
In instances where the plaintiff does not discover his
injuries until after the alleged wrong occurs,
however, the “discovery rule” kicksin to
“postpone the beginning of the limitations period
from the date when the plaintiff is wronged to the date when
he discovers he has been injured ... .” Id.
Applying the discovery rule in the civil-rights context means
that a Section 1983 claim accrues “‘when the
plaintiff knows or should know that his or her constitutional
rights have been violated.'” Hileman v.
Maze, 367 F.3d 694, 696 (7th Cir. 2004) (quoting
Kelly, 4 F.3d at 511).
Brown asserts that he was over-incarcerated in violation of
his Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. First
Am. Compl. ¶¶ 2-3, 29, 31, 40, 54. Based on the
allegations in the complaint, Brown knew he had suffered
those constitutional injuries as soon as he was held past his
September 12, 2013 release date. Id. ¶ 3. In
fact, sometime in August 2013, Cook County Jail gave Brown a
heads-up that his release date would be March 4, 2014, not
September 12, 2013. Id. This unwelcome surprise
prompted Brown to file a habeas petition on September 10,
2013 to correct the error. Id. So, as of September
12, 2013, Brown had everything he needed-namely, notice that
his constitutional rights had been violated when Cook County
Jail refused to release him that day-to bring this
civil-rights action. See Hileman, 367 F.3d at 696
(“[T]he date on which the plaintiff could have sued for
[her] injury … should coincide with the date the
plaintiff ‘knows or should know' that her rights
were violated.” (quoting Kelly, 4 F.3d at
511)). Because Brown did not file his complaint until
December 30, 2015, his Section 1983 false imprisonment claims
out the accrual date, Brown asserts that his false
imprisonment ended on January 17, 2014, when the sentencing
judge discharged the $50, 000 I-bond.See Pl.'s Resp.
Br. at 3-5. The idea here is that being on bail is something
akin to imprisonment, so the accrual of the claim would not
begin until Brown was discharged from bail and completely
free of the criminal justice system. Id. But being
placed on bond alone does not amount to false
imprisonment. See Albright v. Oliver, 975
F.2d 343, 346 (7th Cir. 1992) (concluding that releasing an
arrestee on bond but confining him to the state of Illinois
“would not be a sufficient deprivation of liberty to
actuate constitutional remedies” where arrestee could
leave the state by obtaining leave of court), aff'd
on other grounds, 510 U.S. 266 (1994); Williams v.
City of Chi., 2014 WL 3787422, at *3 (N.D. Ill. July 30,
2014) (holding that the statute of limitations for a false
imprisonment claim began to run on the date the plaintiff was