Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Brown v. Dart

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

November 28, 2016

MILAN JAMES BROWN, Plaintiff,
v.
THOMAS J. DART, SHERIFF OF COOK COUNTY, and COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Honorable Edmond E. Chang United States District Judge

         Milan 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.[1] See R. 8, First Am. Compl.[2] 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.

         I. Background

         For 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.[3] 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. ¶¶ 21-22.

         At the 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.

         Based 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.[4] 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.

         II. Standard of Review

         A party 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. 1998).

         III. Analysis

         The 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.[5]

         A. Brown's Section 1983 Claims

         Although 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).

         Here, 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 are time-barred.[6]

         To push 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.[7]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 ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.