wrongdoer would be encouraged to keep his victim incarcerated to prevent him from asserting his constitutional rights; (2) that the limitations period relating to the false arrest and false imprisonment charges did not start to run until he became aware of the illegality of his arrest; and (3) that false imprisonment is a continuing trespass which gives rise to a new cause of action each day the imprisonment continues.
1. Policy Underlying Civil Rights Acts as Requiring Tolling
Although the failure of Congress to enact a general federal statute of limitations reflects an intent to have state limitations periods apply, Conard v. Stitzel, 225 F. Supp. 244, 246 (E.D. Pa. 1963), the federal courts may nevertheless fashion their own limitations periods whenever a state statute of limitations threatens a federal program's need for uniformity, United Auto Workers v. Hoosier-Cardinal Corp., 383 U.S. 696, 86 S. Ct. 1107, 16 L. Ed. 2d 192 (1966); Atkins v. Schmutz Mfg. Co., 435 F.2d 527 (4th Cir. 1970), or discriminates against or overly burdens a federal cause of action, Van Horn v. Lukhard, 392 F. Supp. 384, 391 (E.D. Va. 1975).
This case presents no special circumstances which would require by-passing the state statute of limitations. The Civil Rights Acts are not a "closely interwoven statutory scheme" needing the uniformity of a federal statute of limitations. Conard v. Stitzel, supra, at 249. Title 12 P.S. §§ 34 and 51 do not discriminate against the assertion of federal rights, since they apply equally to state and federal causes of action, and the policy underlying the Civil Rights Acts is not overly burdened by allowing the statute of limitations to run while a potential plaintiff is in custody. As this Circuit stated in a similar case, Jones v. Bombeck, 375 F.2d 737, 739 (3d Cir. 1967), "We can discern no reason why the statute [of limitations] should be tolled because the appellant was incarcerated."
2. Tolling of Statute Until Discovery of the Injury
Getz' second argument is that part of his cause of action is based upon the illegality of his arrest, and he was not aware of that illegality until it was judicially declared in June or July 1975 when the assault and battery charges against him were dismissed because of the invalid arrest. He contends, therefore, that the statute of limitations should not begin to run until the date of his discovery that his rights had been violated, i.e. until the date of his discovery of the "legal injury." In support of that argument, Getz cites Janigan v. Taylor, 344 F.2d 781 (1st Cir. 1965); Moviecolor Ltd. v. Eastman Kodak Co., 288 F.2d 80 (2d Cir. 1961); Ayers v. Morgan, 397 Pa. 282, 154 A.2d 788 (1959), Smith v. Bell Tele. Co. of Pennsylvania, 397 Pa. 134, 153 A.2d 477 (1959). Those cases are clearly distinguishable. In each instance, by some action on the part of the alleged wrongdoer, the operative facts giving rise to the cause of action had been concealed from the innocent victim. In the instant case, on the other hand, all of the operative facts, i.e. Bruch's actions in arresting and beating Getz, and Getz' innocence, were known to Getz. He was aware of all of the operative facts of his injury; he was only unaware that as a result of those operative facts he had a "legal cause of action." The rule in Pennsylvania in that regard is stated in McEnery v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., 50 D&C 395, 399 (1944) "The mere fact that a plaintiff does not know that he has a cause of action and consequently delays longer than the period permitted by the statute of limitations to file his suit does not defer the running of the statute of limitations." See also Walters v. Ditzler, 424 Pa. 445, 227 A.2d 833 (1967); In Re Ridgway's Account, 206 Pa. 587, 56 A. 25 (1903); Penn-Delco Union School Dist. Authority v. M. & L. Constr. Co., 60 D&C 2d 226, 60 Del. Co. 136 (1972).
3. Continuing Cause of Action
Getz' final contention is that the statute of limitations does not bar his claim for false imprisonment because it is a continuing trespass which gives rise to a new cause of action for each day of incarceration. He has cited Cohen v. Lit Bros., 166 Pa. Super. 206, 70 A.2d 419 (1950) and Prosser's Law of Torts, § 13 (1971), but neither affords support for his contention. Cohen makes no mention of "continuing trespass" and both Cohen and Prosser were discussing false imprisonment not preceded by false arrest. Since the false imprisonment here was preceded by false arrest, it clearly falls within the one-year limitation period of 12 P.S. § 51 and, even if the limitations period did not begin to run until the last day of incarceration,
this claim would, nevertheless, be barred.
The motion to dismiss will be granted.
This 18th day of August, 1975, it is
ORDERED that the Motion of defendant, Police Officer Gary Bruch, to Dismiss the complaint is GRANTED.
Alfred L. Luongo / J.