The opinion of the court was delivered by: THOMAS I. VANASKIE
On April 15, 1993, Plaintiff Antoinette M. Hamidian ("Hamidian") commenced the above-captioned civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against defendant Frank Occulto ("Occulto"), former Chief of Police of the Dunmore Police Department, seeking damages for false arrest, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution. (Dkt. Entry # 1, p. 2 and Dkt. Entry # 37.) Occulto filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on February 7, 1994, (Dkt. Entry # 25), and the case was then reassigned to the undersigned on March 2, 1994. (Dkt. Entry # 29.) A Pre-Trial conference was held on April 29, 1994, at which time the parties were directed to submit supplemental briefs on Occulto's pending Motion for Summary Judgement. The supplemental briefs having been timely filed, the matter is now ripe for disposition.
Hamidian claims that on April 19, 1990, she was driving her vehicle at the intersection of Corner and Apple Streets in Dunmore, Pennsylvania when Occulto was driving his vehicle in the opposite direction at the same intersection.
(Dkt. Entry # 37, p. 1.) Hamidian asserts that upon seeing her at the intersection, Occulto blocked her exit from the street, exited his vehicle and initiated a "street confrontation." (Dkt. Entry # 37, p. 2.) At the time of the confrontation, Occulto was not in uniform, did not have a badge or identification card, and was driving his personal vehicle.
As Occulto approached her vehicle, Hamidian maintains she took her foot off the brake and allowed her car to "nudge" forward.
(Dkt. Entry # 37, p. 2.) With Occulto still approaching, Hamidian contends she was required to make a snap decision, "namely, believe the unknown stranger who was trying to get into her car . . . or leave the scene immediately." (Dkt. Entry # 37, p. 3.) Hamidian decided to leave the scene. Id.
Occulto then telephoned the Dunmore Police station and requested that the Police Department check the license plate number of the vehicle to determine its owner. (Dkt. Entry # 27, p. 3.) Upon learning Hamidian was the owner of the vehicle, Occulto, accompanied by Patrolman Dee, also of the Dunmore Police Department, arrived at Hamidian's home and questioned her about insurance and registration.
Shortly thereafter, Hamidian received three (3) citations in the mail charging her with (1) failing to give information and render aid, 75 Pa. C.S.A. § 3744; (2) failing to file notice of an accident to the police, 75 Pa. C.S.A. § 3746; and (3) driving on a one-way road in the wrong direction, 75 Pa. C.S.A. § 3308. (Dkt. Entry # 27, p. 3.) Plaintiff appeared for a hearing on the charges before the District Magistrate and was found guilty of all three summary offenses. (Dkt. Entry # 27, p. 3.) Hamidian then appealed the District Magistrate's decision to the Court of Common Pleas. After a hearing, the Honorable S. John Cottone found Hamidian guilty of failing to give information and render aid, 75 Pa. C.S.A. § 3744, but dismissed the other two citations. An appeal was then filed in the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, which reversed the decision of Judge Cottone and dismissed the citation for failing to give information and render aid. Commonwealth v. Hamidian, 418 Pa. Super. 631, 606 A.2d 1229 (1991).
Occulto contends in his Motion for Summary Judgment that Hamidian's claims for false arrest and false imprisonment are time-barred and that her claim for malicious prosecution is untenable in that Hamidian failed to establish that the criminal charges filed against her were initiated without probable cause. (Dkt. Entry # 27, p. 13 and Dkt. Entry # 39.) Additionally, Occulto argues that he is protected from a Section 1983 suit for damages by qualified immunity and that Hamidian's Due Process rights were not violated since she was not actually arrested at the intersection of Corner and Apple Streets, but rather was, at most, subjected to an investigatory detention. (Dkt. Entry # 27, pp. 4-13.) Because we conclude that Hamidian's claims for false arrest and false imprisonment are time-barred, and further conclude that Hamidian has failed to establish the necessary elements for a Section 1983 malicious prosecution claim, we will not address Occulto's remaining contentions. Judgment will not be entered in favor of Occulto, however, because Hamidian's state law claim for malicious prosecution survives summary judgment. In light of the age of this case and readiness for trial, we will exercise our discretion to retain jurisdiction over this state law claim.
A. False Arrest and False Imprisonment
It is well-established that claims brought pursuant to Section 1983 are governed by the limitations period applicable to state personal injury claims, which in Pennsylvania is two years. See Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S. 261, 105 S. Ct. 1938, 85 L. Ed. 2d 254 (1985); Bartholomew v. Fischl, 782 F.2d 1148 (3d Cir. 1986); Barnes v. Borough of Pottstown, Civil No. 93-1498, WL 114359 (E.D. Pa. March 30, 1994); Barnes v. City of Coatsville, Civil No. 93-1444, 1993 WL 259329 (E.D. Pa. June 30, 1993); 42 Pa. C.S.A. § 5524 (1982).
A Section 1983 claim for false arrest and false imprisonment accrues at that point in time when the injured party knows or has reason to know of the injury forming the basis of the action, and that point is most usually on the date of the arrest. See Rose v. Bartle, 871 F.2d 331, 348 (3d Cir. 1989); Cunnane v. The Honorable Judge Albert Subers, et al., Civil No. 92-4844, WL 21217 (E.D. Pa. January 26, 1993). The deprivations of which Hamidian complains in the present case occurred on April 19, 1990, the date she alleges she was improperly arrested, and a few days later when the three citations were filed with the District Magistrate. (Dkt. Entry # 37, p. 4.) Accordingly, it is beyond refute that April 19, 1990, or at the latest, the day the citations were filed, is that point in time when Hamidian knew or had reason to know of the alleged injury which forms the basis of this action. Since Hamidian filed the present suit on April 15, 1993, almost three years after the date of her alleged deprivations, her claims for false arrest and false imprisonment must be dismissed as time-barred.
While a claim for malicious prosecution also bears a two-year statute of limitations period, the statute does not begin to run until the underlying criminal proceedings have ended in plaintiff's favor. Rose v. Bartle, 871 F.2d at 348-349; Barnes v. City of Coatsville, Civil No. 93-1444, 1993 WL 259329 (E.D. Pa. June 30, 1993). In the present case, the criminal proceedings against Hamidian ended on December 31, 1991, and she filed the present action on April 16, 1993. ...