United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
OPINION AND ORDER
L. ELLIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
5, 2016, Defendant Officer Susan Doody, a Chicago police
officer, allegedly seized and destroyed Plaintiff Ida
Simpson's handgun, despite having no legal justification
for doing so. Almost two years later, on July 3, 2018,
Simpson filed this lawsuit against the City of Chicago and
Doody. Because her initial complaint only named Defendants in
the caption and included no other details, the Court ordered
Simpson to file an amended complaint, which she did on July
23, 2018. After the Court recruited counsel for Simpson, she
filed a second amended complaint (“SAC”) on March
1, 2019, alleging Doody and the City deprived her of her
property in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state law.
The City now moves to dismiss the SAC based on the statute of
limitations. Because Simpson's claims are
time-barred and do not relate back to the filing of her
initial complaint, the Court dismisses the SAC with
resides at a senior citizen residential building in Chicago.
On July 5, 2016, Doody responded to a disturbance related to
a holiday party on Simpson's floor and requested entry to
Simpson's home. Simpson consented. Upon entry, Doody
observed a .38 handgun on a table. Simpson presented Doody
with proof of ownership and a valid Firearm Owner's
Identification Card. Nonetheless, Doody seized the handgun
and informed Simpson that she would not get the handgun back.
Doody did not provide Simpson with a copy of the property
inventory form from the City or information on how to
retrieve the property. The City subsequently destroyed the
handgun without providing Simpson with timely notice of her
right to recover her property, nor compensation for the value
of the handgun.
filed a complaint against the City and Doody on July 3, 2018.
Doc. 1. That complaint did not include any allegations, only
the parties' names in the caption. Id. The Court
ordered Simpson to file an amended complaint by July 30,
2018, indicating that otherwise, the Court would dismiss the
case for failure to state a claim. Doc. 7. Simpson filed a
first amended complaint on July 23, 2018, naming the City and
Doody as Defendants and alleging the wrongful disposal of her
handgun. Doc. 11. After the Court recruited counsel for
Simpson, Simpson filed the SAC on March 1, 2019. Doc. 28.
motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) challenges the
sufficiency of the complaint, not its merits. Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6); Gibson v. City of Chicago, 910 F.2d 1510,
1520 (7th Cir. 1990). In considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion
to dismiss, the Court accepts as true all well-pleaded facts
in the plaintiff's complaint and draws all reasonable
inferences from those facts in the plaintiff's favor.
AnchorBank, FSB v. Hofer, 649 F.3d 610, 614 (7th
Cir. 2011). To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the complaint
must not only provide the defendant with fair notice of a
claim's basis but must also be facially plausible.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct.
1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009); see also Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d
929 (2007). “A claim has facial plausibility when the
plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
City argues that the Court should dismiss the SAC because the
statute of limitations has run on all of Simpson's claims
and she cannot rely on relation back principles to make her
claims timely. The statute of limitations is an affirmative
defense that a plaintiff need not anticipate in the complaint
in order to survive a motion to dismiss. United States v.
Lewis, 411 F.3d 838, 842 (7th Cir. 2005). But that is
not the case where “the allegations of the complaint
itself set forth everything necessary to satisfy the
affirmative defense, such as when a complaint plainly reveals
that an action is untimely under the governing statute of
limitations.” Id.; see also Brooks v.
Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 579 (7th Cir. 2009) (considering
statute of limitations defense on motion to dismiss where
relevant dates were set forth in the complaint).
Section 1983 Claims
brings claims under § 1983 for violation of due process
in connection with the seizure of her handgun. Illinois'
statute of limitations for personal injury claims, which is
two years, governs the statute of limitations for § 1983
claims, Ashafa v. City of Chicago, 146 F.3d 459, 461
(7th Cir. 1998); 735 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/13-202, though
federal law determines when the claim accrues, Wallace v.
Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 388, 127 S.Ct. 1091, 166 L.Ed.2d 973
(2007). Under federal law, § 1983 claims accrue when a
plaintiff knows or has reason to know that her constitutional
rights have been violated. Wilson v. Giesen, 956
F.2d 738, 741 (7th Cir. 1992). Simpson does not appear to
dispute that her federal claims accrued immediately, on the
date of the alleged incident on July 5, 2016, because her
injury arises from the initial seizure, with the allegedly
unlawful retention and destruction of her property a
consequence of that alleged seizure. See Sherry v. City
of Chicago, No. 18 C 5525, 2019 WL 2525887, at *3-4
(N.D. Ill. June 19, 2019) (Fourteenth Amendment claim based
on seizure of property accrued at the time of the seizure of
property, despite the City's continued retention of that
property); White v. City of Waukegan, No. 10 C 6454,
2011 WL 2470470, at *2 n.2 (N.D. Ill. June 20, 2011) (claim
that defendants did not notify plaintiff of how to recover
seized property accrued at the time of the seizure of the
property); MacNamara v. Hess, 67 Fed.Appx. 139,
143-44 (3d Cir. 2003) (“[T]he retention of the seized
property is only a consequence of the original alleged
illegal seizure and does not affect the date on which the
claim accrues.”); Herrin v. Dunham, No.
05-CV-10245, 2008 WL 2781456, at *4-5 (E.D. Mich. Mar. 17,
2008) (collecting cases finding that claims based on seizures
of property, including continued wrongful retention of that
property, accrue when alleged illegal seizure occurred),
report & recommendation adopted in part by 2008
WL 2718802 (E.D. Mich. July 10, 2008). This means that the
statute of limitations for Simpson's federal claims
expired on July 5, 2018. Although Simpson filed her initial
complaint within the statute of limitations, the filing of
the SAC on March 1, 2019, came too late.
Simpson argues that her claims should nonetheless proceed
based on the Court granting her time to file an amended
complaint and the relation back doctrine. Initially, the
fact that, upon review of the initial complaint, the Court
ordered Simpson to file an amended complaint by July 30,
2018, does not affect the accrual date or the fact that the
operative SAC is time-barred. Joseph v. Elan Motorsports
Techs. Racing Corp., 638 F.3d 555, 558 (7th Cir. 2011)
(“Amending the complaint . . . was entirely proper;
whether the complaint would relate back to the date when the
original complaint was filed and thus defeat the statute of
limitations was a separate question.”); Mullin v.
Balicki, 875 F.3d 140, 158 (3rd Cir. 2017) (“[I]n
certain cases, the ‘better approach' is to treat
leave to amend and relation back/timeliness separately,
determining first whether amendment should be allowed under
the discretionary factors, and only then passing on whether
the complaint relates back or is otherwise timely.”).
Nothing in the Court's order suggested the tolling of the
statute of limitations until she filed her amended complaint.
Simpson also cannot benefit from the tolling applicable to
the Court's review of a complaint accompanied by a motion
to proceed in forma pauperis because Simpson,
although proceeding pro se, paid the filing fee the
day she filed her complaint. Cf. Taylor v. PSC Prof'l
Sec. Consultants, No. 16 cv 5210, 2017 WL 4742199, at *3
(N.D. Ill. Oct. 20, 2017) (“For purposes of the statute
of limitations, when an IFP application is submitted to the
clerk, the court will temporarily suspend or toll the
limitations period while it determines whether the
application will be granted or denied; the limitations period
then resumes running upon the date the plaintiff receives
notification of the denial.”).
for Simpson to proceed on her federal claims, the Court must
find that the SAC relates back to the original complaint
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
15(c)(1)(B). The Court does not address whether the SAC
relates back to the amended complaint because, even if it
does, the amended complaint, filed eighteen days after the
statute of limitations ran, would also have to relate back to
the initial complaint. The Court collapses the inquiry and
focuses on whether the initial complaint provided the City
and Doody with sufficient notice of the subsequent claims.
15(c)(1)(B) provides that an amendment to a complaint
“relates back to the date of the original
pleading” when “the amendment asserts a claim or
defense that arose out of the conduct, transaction, or
occurrence set out-or attempted to be set out-in the original
pleading.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(c)(1)(B). Rule 15(c) does
not require identical theories of recovery, only that the new
claim is based on the same conduct, transaction, or
occurrence as alleged in the original complaint. See
Bularz v. Prudential Ins. Co., 93 F.3d 372, 379 (7th
Cir. 1996) (“In general, relation back is permitted
under [Rule 15(c)(1)(B)] where an amended complaint asserts a
new claim on the basis of the same core of facts, but
involving a different substantive legal theory than that
advanced in the original pleading.”). “The
central inquiry under Rule 15(c) is whether the original
complaint ‘gave the defendant enough notice of the
nature and scope of the plaintiff's claim that he
shouldn't have been surprised ...