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Daniels v. City of Philadelphia

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

November 8, 2017

CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, et al., Defendants.


          RUFE, J.

         On January 6, 2017, Plaintiff Michael Daniels, proceeding pro se, initiated this action against the City of Philadelphia, Former Commissioner of the Philadelphia Police Department Charles Ramsey, Police Officer Jeffrey Deacon, and Police Officer Andrew Miller in connection with his arrest and detention for crimes, for which, on January 7, 2015, he was found not guilty. The City of Philadelphia and Charles Ramsey moved to dismiss, arguing in part that the two-year statute of limitations bars Plaintiffs claims.[1] Plaintiff filed a counseled response to the motion in which he agreed to dismiss several claims asserted, but maintained that his federal and state law malicious prosecution claims were timely filed. For reasons that follow, the motion to dismiss will be granted in part and denied in part, and the malicious prosecution claims may proceed.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The complaint alleges the following facts, which are assumed to be true for purposes of the motion to dismiss. On October 14, 2014, Plaintiff alleges Police Officers Deacon and Miller illegally searched him and his car, and took him into custody without probable cause. Thereafter, the officers provided false and misleading information "in an effort to obtain the District Attoraey['s] . . . approval" for his arrest and prosecution.[2] Following his arrest, Plaintiff was detained until January 7, 2015, when he was found not guilty and the criminal charges against him were dismissed.[3]

         Plaintiff initiated this action against Defendants while he was incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution in Frackville, Pennsylvania.[4] On January 6, 2017, he completed his complaint and motion to proceed in forma pauperis and delivered the materials to prison staff for forwarding to the Court.[5] Three days later, prison officials mailed the complaint and accompanying materials.[6] On January 11, 2017, the Clerk of Court received the mailing. On January 26, 2017, Plaintiffs motion to proceed in forma pauperis was denied without prejudice for failure to file a certified prisoner account statement. Plaintiff followed the Court's directives and, on February 21, 2017, the motion was granted and the complaint was docketed.[8]


         Dismissal for failure to state a claim is appropriate if the complaint fails to allege facts sufficient to establish a plausible entitlement to relief.[9] In evaluating Defendant's motion, the Court "take[s] as true all the factual allegations of the [complaint] and the reasonable inferences that can be drawn from them, " but "disregard[s] legal conclusions and recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements."[10] Instead, to prevent dismissal, a complaint must "set out sufficient factual matter to show that the claim is facially plausible."[11]"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."[12]

         III. ANALYSIS

         Plaintiff asserts eleven counts in the complaint. Counts 2 through 10 include claims of unreasonable search and seizure, false arrest, violation of due process, municipal liability, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, among others.[13] Counts 1 and 11 raise federal and state malicious prosecution claims.[14]

         Plaintiff has agreed that counts 2 through 10, and all claims against the City and Ramsey should be dismissed.[15] Thus, the Court will dismiss these claims and Defendants with prejudice. The remaining counts 1 and 11 asserting malicious prosecution will be discussed below.

         A. Statute of Limitations

         Defendants contend that the Court should dismiss the remaining malicious prosecution claims under the statute of limitations.[16] Plaintiff, however, argues that these claims were raised within the applicable limitations period.[17]

         The statute of limitations for a malicious prosecution claim brought under either 42 U.S.C. § 1983 or Pennsylvania law is two years.[18] Since a malicious prosecution claim cannot proceed "unless the plaintiff can demonstrate that the conviction or sentence has already been invalidated, "[19] such a claim does not accrue until the criminal proceedings against the plaintiff are "terminated in the plaintiffs favor."[20]

         Here, Plaintiffs criminal proceedings terminated in his favor on January 7, 2015, when he was found "not guilty."[21] Therefore, the statute of limitations accrued on January 7, 2015, affording Plaintiff two years from ...

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