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Kier v. Prine

United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Valdosta Division

November 10, 2014

ROBERT KIER, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
SHERIFF CHRIS PRINE, et. al, Defendants.

ORDER

HUGH LAWSON, District Judge.

Plaintiff ROBERT KIER, JR, an inmate confined at the Coleman Low Federal Correctional Institution in Coleman, Florida, filed this pro se civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.[1] After construing all allegations in the Complaint liberally and in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, the Court finds that Plaintiff's Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Plaintiff's Complaint is accordingly DISMISSED without prejudice pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1).

I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), the district court is required to conduct a preliminary review of prisoner complaints. In so doing, the district court must accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true. Brown v. Johnson, 387 F.3d 1344, 1347 (11th Cir. 2004). Pro se pleadings are also "held to a less stringent standard than pleadings drafted by attorneys" and will be "liberally construed." Tannenbaum v. United States, 148 F.3d 1262, 1263 (11th Cir. 1998). A pro se prisoner's pleading will, however, be dismissed prior to service if the court finds that the complaint - when viewed liberally and in the light most favorable to the plaintiff - is frivolous or malicious, seeks relief from an immune defendant, or otherwise fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). See also, Brown v. Johnson, 387 F.3d 1344, 1347 (11th Cir. 2004); Tannenbaum v. United States, 148 F.3d 1262, 1263 (11th Cir. 1998). If allegations in the complaint plainly show that relief is barred by the applicable statute of limitations, it fails to state an actionable a claim and thus is properly dismissed prior to service. See Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 215, 127 S.Ct. 910, 166 L.Ed.2d 798 (2007); 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

II. PLAINTIFF'S CLAIMS

In this Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants - Sheriff Chris Prine and various detectives employed by the Lowndes County Sheriff's Office - violated this Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure. The Complaint states that "Detectives" conducted a warrantless search of Plaintiff's parents' home ("the home of Robert L. Kier, Sr. and Ms. Mary Ann Kier") on November 12, 2010. Two days later, Plaintiff went to the Lowndes County Jail and threatened to bring constitutional claims against "the Sheriff's Department." Detective Alicia Brantley then arrested Plaintiff, and while in custody, Plaintiff was questioned about a number of thefts in other counties. He states that the "Lowndes and Echols County Sheriff's Departments" then "coerced" officials in three other jurisdictions to issue warrants for Plaintiff's arrest "without probable cause, " which resulted in Plaintiff being "falsely imprisoned" from "November 15, 2010 until May of 2011." The other counties allegedly dismissed those charges by December of 2012.

Defendants apparently continued to investigate Plaintiff in Lowndes County. Plaintiff alleges that Detectives Winningham and Black placed a "tracking device on Plaintiff's personal truck without a warrant" on or about February 17, 2012. Detectives Winningham, Marion, Whitner, Priddy, Black and Prichett then allegedly conducted another "warrantless" search of his parents' home on February 22, 2012, which resulted in the seizure of a "gooseneck trailer." Then, a year later, on March 12, 2013, Detectives Winningham and Marion allegedly conducted yet another warrantless search, this time at "the home of Flasha Boatman." This search resulted in Plaintiff's arrest and the seizure of his truck. Plaintiff claims that while his truck was in the custody of "Lowndes County Detectives, " money was stolen and his iPod was broken.

Plaintiff has now attempted to bring Fourth Amendment claims against Sheriff Chris Prine and Detectives Winningham, Marion, Black, Whitner, Priddy, Prichett, and Brantley.[2] The Court also liberally construes Plaintiff's allegations regarding his arrest on November 14, 2010, to be a possible First Amendment retaliation claim and Plaintiff's allegations about the loss of his personal property to be a potential Fourteenth Amendment due process claim.[3]

A. Fourth Amendment Search and Seizure

Plaintiff attempts to bring Fourth Amendment claims based on four different "searches": two at his parents' home, one at the home of Ms. Boatman, and one based on "tracking device" placed on his truck. Plaintiff has no standing to bring a Fourth Amendment claim based on the search of another person's residence unless he can establish that he had a legitimate expectation of privacy in that home. See Rawlings v. Kentucky, 448 U.S. 98, 104-05, 100 S.Ct. 2556, 65 L.Ed.2d 633 (1980) (ownership of property seized does not automatically confer standing to challenge search). Plaintiff's Complaint does not allege that he had any such expectation. He has thus failed to state a Fourth Amendment claim based on those searches.

Plaintiff's claims arising out of the searches of his parents' home on November 12, 2010, and February 22, 2012, and for the warrantless tracking of his truck on February 17, 2012, are also plainly time-barred. In the State of Georgia, the statute of limitations for bringing a § 1983 claim is two-years. See Owens v. Okure, 4188 U.S. 235, 236, 109 S.Ct. 573, 574, 102 L.Ed.2d 594 (1989), O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33. This limitations period begins to run when "the plaintiff knows or has reason to know (1) that he was injured, and (2) who inflicted the injury." Johnson v. Greaves, 366 F.Appx. 976, 978 (11th Cir. 2010) (citing Rozar v. Mullis, 85 F.3d 556, 561 (11th Cir. 1996). The time for filing Plaintiff's claims thus expired on or before February 22, 2014. Plaintiff's Complaint was mailed to this Court on or about September 8, 2014, [4] well after the expiration of the limitations period; and nothing in the Complaint suggests that the statute of limitations could be equitably tolled. Plaintiff has therefore failed to state a claim. See Hughes v. Lott, 350 F.3d 1157, 1163 (11th Cir. 2003); Jones, 549 U.S. at 215.

Plaintiff's Fourth Amendment claims for unlawful search and seizure are accordingly DISMISSED. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1).

B. Fourth Amendment False Imprisonment

Plaintiff next asserts that the "Lowndes and Echols County Sheriff's Department(s) coerced" three other jurisdictions to issue warrants for Plaintiff's arrest and thereby caused him to be "falsely ...


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