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.

Zachary Hiscock v. City of Philadelphia

February 25, 2013

ZACHARY HISCOCK
v.
CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, ET AL.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Yohn, J.

MEMORANDUM

Plaintiff Zachary Hiscock commenced this suit on April 23, 2012, against the City of Philadelphia (the "City") and a "John Doe" defendant, alleging a civil rights violation pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and associated state law claims. On December 10, 2012, Hiscock filed a motion to amend his complaint to replace "John Doe" with Sergeant Scott Drissel, the Philadelphia police officer whom Hiscock now believes to be the officer who violated his rights. The City has responded that I should deny leave to amend on the ground that amendment of the complaint to name the "John Doe" defendant would be futile because the statute of limitations has expired. For reasons set forth below, I agree that amendment would be futile. Therefore, Hiscock's motion for leave to amend his complaint will be denied.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

During the early morning hours of April 24, 2010, Hiscock and a friend, Jonathan Lawrence, patronized a bar located at 1836 Callowhill Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, called the "Kite and Key Tavern." (Compl. ¶¶ 4-5.) At approximately 1:55 a.m., Lawrence approached Adam Rybarczyk, a patron of the bar whom Lawrence did not know, and began a conversation. (Id. ¶¶ 5-6.) Shortly into their conversation, Hiscock, who was standing approximately twenty feet away from Lawrence and Rybarczyk, noticed a fight begin to break out between the two over Rybarczyk's hat. (Id. ¶¶ 5-7.) Hiscock walked over to Lawrence and broke up the fight. (Id. ¶ 8.) Dennis Cantwell, the bartender on duty, then announced that the bar was closing and instructed everyone to leave. (Id. ¶ 9.) Immediately following Cantwell's instruction, at approximately 2:05 a.m., Lawrence and Hiscock exited the bar.

As Lawrence and Hiscock were walking toward Hiscock's car they were approached by several police officers. (Id. ¶ 10.) The police officers handcuffed both Lawrence and Hiscock and began questioning them as to what transpired at the bar. (Id. ¶¶ 11-12.) During the questioning, Rybarczyk, who had called the police, informed one of the officers that Hiscock was not involved in the altercation; consequently, Hiscock was uncuffed. (Id. ¶¶ 13-14.) Hiscock remained at the scene as instructed by the police. (Id. ¶ 14.) At approximately 2:15 a.m., an unknown police sergeant began questioning Hiscock about his involvement in the altercation. (Id. ¶ 15.) Unsatisfied with his answers, the police sergeant placed Hiscock under arrest for criminal conspiracy, robbery, theft, terroristic threats, and simple assault. (Id. ¶¶ 17, 21.) Hiscock was then taken to the 9th District police station where he remained in custody for approximately twenty-seven hours. (Id. ¶¶ 17, 20.) Following his arraignment, Hiscock was released on bail on the morning of April 25, 2010. (Id. ¶ 20.) On May 11, 2010, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania dismissed the charges against Hiscock. (Id. ¶ 22.)

On April 23, 2012, Hiscock brought suit against the City and the unknown "John Doe" police sergeant who ordered his arrest, alleging civil rights violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and associated state law claims. The City filed an answer on June 1, 2012. I held a preliminary pretrial conference on June 18, 2012, and following the conference issued a scheduling order in which I stated that Hiscock had sixty days to determine the identity of the John Doe police sergeant, and that discovery was to be completed by September 21, 2012. Both parties subsequently requested an extension of the discovery deadline until November 21, 2012, which I granted. On December 10, 2012, Hiscock filed this motion for leave to amend his complaint to substitute Drissel for the "John Doe" police sergeant. The City objects, stating that an amendment at this time would be futile because the statute of limitations against Drissel has expired.

II. DISCUSSION

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a) provides that in cases where amendment of a pleading is not allowed as a matter of course, such as here, "a party may amend its pleading only with the opposing party's written consent or the court's leave." Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2). "The court should freely give leave when justice so requires." Id. "Leave to amend must generally be granted unless equitable considerations render it otherwise unjust. Among the factors that may justify denial of leave to amend are undue delay, bad faith, and futility." Arthur v. Maersk, Inc., 434 F.3d 196, 204 (3d Cir. 2006) (internal citations omitted). With regard to those factors, "[i]t is well-settled that prejudice to the non-moving party is the touchstone for the denial of an amendment." Cornell & Co. v. Occupational Safety and Health Review Comm'n, 573 F.2d 820, 823 (3d Cir. 1978).

Here, the City does not argue, nor is there any evidence of, bad faith. Similarly, the City does not assert that amendment would create any undue prejudice. The City's only arguments are that amendment should be denied because of undue delay and futility. Because I agree with the City that amendment would be futile, there is no need to discuss undue delay.

A claim is futile and leave to amend may be properly denied "where the amendment would not withstand a motion to dismiss." Massarsky v. Gen. Motors Corp., 706 F.2d 111, 125 (3d Cir. 1985); see also Jablonski v. Pan American World Airways, Inc., 863 F.2d 289, 292 (3d Cir. 1998). Here, the City argues that the claims against Drissel in Hiscock's amended complaint-false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, and a civil rights violation pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for an arrest without probable cause-are barred by the statute of limitations, and would therefore not survive a motion to dismiss. I agree.

Under Pennsylvania law, false arrest, false imprisonment, and malicious prosecution are subject to a two-year statute of limitations. See 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 5524(1). Pennsylvania law applies to these claims when brought in federal court.

When evaluating § 1983 claims, federal courts apply the forum state's statute of limitations for personal injury actions. See Sameric Corp. of Del., Inc. v. City of Phila., 142 F.3d 582, 599 (3d Cir. 1998). Accordingly, because personal injury actions are subject to a two-year statute of limitations under Pennsylvania law, so is Hiscock's § 1983 claim. See § 5524(2).

The incident giving rise to the claims of false arrest, false imprisonment, and the civil rights violation under § 1983-Hiscock's arrest-occurred on April 24, 2010. Therefore, the complaint would have had to have been filed by April 24, 2012 to comply with the statute of limitations for those claims. A claim for malicious prosecution, however, "accrues on the date that the proceedings terminated favorably for the accused." Thomas-Warner v. City of Phila., No. 11-5854, 2011 WL 6371898, at *6 (E.D. Pa. Dec. 20, 2011) (citing Cap v. K-Mart Discount Stores, Inc., 515 A.2d 52, 53 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1986)). Here, that date is May 11, 2010, when the Commonwealth dismissed all charges against Hiscock. Thus, the claim for malicious prosecution would have had to have been filed by May 11, 2012. As previously mentioned, the original complaint was filed on April 23, 2012, prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations for all of the claims.

Because this motion to amend the complaint was filed on December 10, 2012, well after the expiration of the statute of limitations on all of the claims, the only way the claims would be timely is if the amended complaint related back to the date of the original filing in accordance with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(c). I find, however, that the ...


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.