United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division
OPINION AND ORDER
P. SIMON, CHIEF JUDGE
se plaintiff Chase Caldwell claims that Officer William
Marshall of the Porter County Sheriff's Department
violated his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights by
falsely arresting him. [DE 1 at 2-3.] Now before me is
Marshall's motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for
summary judgment, to which Caldwell has filed no opposition
facts come from the complaint which I will accept as true at
this point. According to Caldwell, he was arrested at his
residence by Officer Marshall on April 6, 2011, pursuant to
an arrest warrant issued on April 5, 2011. [DE 1 at 2.] The
warrant for Caldwell was issued on charges of forgery and
theft under Ind. Code 35-43-5-2- and 35-43-4-2, on an
information alleging that Caldwell fraudulently passed a
counterfeit $100 bill and took $100 from Sabrina Burns with
intent to deprive her of its value or use. [Id.]
Caldwell denies those allegations. [Id.] He also
states that the charges were later dismissed in plea
moves to dismiss or for summary judgment, arguing that
Caldwell's claim is barred by the statute of limitations.
Because the statute of limitations is an affirmative defense,
a dismissal under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) on that basis is
irregular. Chicago Bldg. Design PC v. Mongolian Housing,
Inc., 770 F.3d 610, 613 (7th Cir. 2014).
“Complaints need not to anticipate and attempt to plead
around defenses, [and] a motion to dismiss should be granted
only where the allegations of the complaint itself set forth
everything necessary to satisfy the affirmative
defense.” Id. at 613-14 (internal citations
omitted). The Seventh Circuit has held that, where the
complaint unambiguously states relevant dates, it is
appropriate to consider the statute of limitations.
Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 579 (7th Cir. 2009).
For dismissal to be proper, the complaint must plainly show
that the action runs afoul of the statute of limitations.
Chicago Bldg. Design, 770 F.3d. at 614.
noted above, Caldwell contends in his complaint that his
arrest on April 6, 2011, violated his Fourth Amendment
protection against false arrest and his Fourteenth Amendment
liberty interest. [DE 1 at 2.] He also states that a warrant
for his arrest was issued on April 5, 2011, and that the
warrant was executed by Marshall the next day, April 6, 2011.
[Id.] These dates are also supported by disclosure
documents filed of record by Caldwell. [DE 3 at 14.] Caldwell
doesn't contest the validity of the warrant, but only the
underlying allegations of forgery and theft. [DE 1 at 2, 3.]
Caldwell further states that the charges were dismissed as a
result of plea negotiations in February 2012. [DE 1 at 2.]
under § 1983 “are best characterized as personal
injury actions . . .” so “a State's personal
injury statute of limitations should be applied . . .
.” Owens v. Okure, 488 U.S. 235, 241 (1989).
In Indiana, the statute of limitations is two years for
personal injury claims. See Ind. Code §
34-11-2-4. However, federal law determines when the statute
of limitations starts running. The statute of limitations
under § 1983 begins to run “when the plaintiff
knows or has reason to know of the injury which is the basis
of his action.” Serino v. Hensley, 735 F.3d
588, 591 (7th Cir. 2013). Specifically for false arrest
claims, the statute of limitations starts to run when the
plaintiff becomes detained pursuant to legal process.
Id. Accordingly, in this case the statute began to
run on April 6, 2011, when Caldwell was arrested and had
reason to know of his injury. Caldwell didn't bring his
complaint until June 7, 2016, five years after his arrest.
Because the critical dates are plainly laid out in
Caldwell's complaint, and five years clearly exceeds the
two-year statute of limitations, this motion to dismiss will
requests that, in the alternative, I grant summary judgment
based on qualified immunity. [DE 13 at 7.] The qualified
immunity doctrine gives a government official immunity from
civil liability unless the official has clearly violated an
established or constitutional right of which a reasonable
person would have known. Pearson v. Callahan, 555
U.S. 223 (2009). There is a two-part test to determine if an
official is entitled to qualified immunity. Id. at
232. First, the court must decide whether plaintiff's
alleged facts demonstrate the violation of a constitutional
right. Id. Second, the court must determine if the
right at issue was “clearly established” at the
time of defendant's alleged misconduct. Id.
There is no particular order in which these steps must be
addressed. Id. at 235.
complaint fails the first prong of this test, as the facts
alleged do not demonstrate the violation of a constitutional
right. Caldwell claims that his Fourth and Fourteenth
Amendments were violated based on his arrest. Generally, a
plaintiff doesn't have a Fourth Amendment claim for false
arrest if he was arrested pursuant to a facially valid
warrant. Lawson v. Veruchi, 637 F.3d 699, 704
(7th Cir. 2011). An “officer procuring the
warrant is immune from a suit for damages unless it can be
shown that the warrant application is so lacking in indicia
of probable cause as to render official belief in its
existence unreasonable.” Neiman v. Keane, 232
F.3d 577, 579-80 (7th Cir. 2000) (internal citations
omitted). If a reasonable, well-trained officer in the
defendant's position would have known that there was not
probable cause and knew he should not have requested the
warrant then he is not immune from suit. Id.
“This . . . occurs when the officer procuring the
warrant does not inform the judicial officer of facts that
would negate probable cause or when the officer recklessly
disregards the truth in his representations to the judicial
procured the warrant. He applied for the warrant after an
investigation into the matter. The issuing judge found that
the affidavit explaining the information gathered by Marshall
during his investigation was enough to show probable cause.
There is no allegation in Caldwell's complaint of any
misrepresentation or falsehood in the affidavit. Caldwell
merely professes his innocence of the charges that, according
to the complaint, have already been dismissed. [DE 1 at 2.]
“The fact that criminal charges are eventually
dropped...has no consideration in the determination of
arguable probable cause at the time of arrest.”
Burritt v. Ditlefsen, 807 F.3d 239, 249
(7th Cir. 2015). Caldwell does not allege, much
less supply evidence supporting, that Marshall's probable
cause affidavit “contained statements he knew to be
false or would have known were false had he not recklessly
disregarded the truth.” Lawson, 637 F.3d at
704. Because the warrant was obtained with a sworn affidavit
supporting probable cause, the warrant is presumptively
valid. [DE 3 at 22-24.] Therefore, Caldwell's complaint
does not allege the violation of a constitutional right, and
Marshall is entitled to qualified immunity.
also alleges that his Fourteenth Amendment liberty interest
was violated by his April 2011 arrest. [DE1 at 2.] This claim
arises out of the same arrest and facts as the his Fourth
Amendment claim. I can therefore use the same analysis that I
used for the Fourth Amendment claim. Burritt, 807
F.3d at 251 (holding that an officer was entitled to
qualified immunity for Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment claims
based on an arrest made with probable cause). Again, the
warrant for Caldwell's arrest was obtained with a showing
of probable cause. Caldwell doesn't claim that Marshall
falsified the probable cause affidavit or had any reason to
believe that arresting Caldwell on the warrant was unlawful.
Furthermore, a Fourteenth Amendment right of this nature is
not clearly established. “A plaintiff cannot state a
due process claim ‘by combining what are essentially
claims for false arrest under the Fourth Amendment and state
law malicious prosecution into a sort of hybrid substantive
due process claim under the Fourteenth Amendment.'”
Brooks v. City of Chicago, 564 F.3d 830, 833
(7th Cir. 2009), quoting McCann v.
Mangialardi, 337 F.3d 782, 786 (7th Cir.
2003). Qualified immunity applies to this claim too.
Chase Caldwell's complaint is barred by the statute of
limitations. In addition, defendant Officer William Marshall
is entitled to qualified immunity against Caldwell's