United States District Court, S.D. Georgia
GODBEY WOODA CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
(government entities and officials) move to dismiss this
civil-rights case. Dkt. No. 7. This motion will be granted in
part, as Plaintiff Tyler Brent Clifton's false arrest
claim is time-barred and his malicious arrest claim fails to
state a claim. For his part, Clifton moves to file a second
amended complaint. Dkt. No. 14. This motion will be DENIED
without prejudice. Clifton must instead file a consolidated
complaint within 14 days.
filed his original complaint on July 8, 2016. Dkt. No. 1. He
then filed an amended complaint, the same but for 26 pages of
exhibits, on July 23, 2016. Dkt. No. 5. He never served this
on Defendants. Dkt. No. 16 at 1-2. Defendants moved to
dismiss the original complaint on August 19, 2016. Dkt. No.
7. Then, on September 20, 2016, Clifton moved to file a
second amended complaint. Dkt. No. 14.
second amended complaint claims, among other things, false
arrest and malicious arrest based on Clifton's April 4,
2014 arrest, which followed indictment. Dkt. No. 14-1
false arrest claim is time-barred. His malicious arrest claim
fails to state a claim. Otherwise, his complaint needs to be
CLIFTON'S FALSE ARREST CLAIM IS TIME-BARRED.
claim for false arrest is barred by the statute of
limitations. A 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Section
1983") false arrest claim and a state false-arrest claim
are both subject to Georgia's two-year statute of
limitations for personal- injury actions. O.C.G.A. §
9-3-33; Smith v. Mercer, 580 F.App'x 871, 872
(11th Cir. 2014) (per curiam); Brown v. Lewis, 361
F.App'x 51, 54 (11th Cir. 2010) (per curiam). The clock
starts when the plaintiff "is detained pursuant to a
legal process." Jones v. Union City, 450
F.App'x 807, 809 (11th Cir. 2011) (per curiam) (citing
Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 391 (2007)). Clifton
was detained on April 4, 2014 following indictment, but did
not bring this suit until July 8, 2016. His false arrest
claim is thus time-barred.
argues that the statute of limitations is tolled by O.C.G.A.
§ 9-3-99, which stops the clock from running against
"the victim of an alleged crime" "until the
prosecution of such crime or act has become final or
otherwise terminated." Clifton claims to be the victim
of a criminal arrest. See O.C.G.A. § 16-5-42.
By his logic, every arrestee enjoys tolling of false arrest
claims for the maximum six years allowed by O.C.G.A. §
9-3-99, unless the arresting officer is fully investigated
sooner. The Court rejects Plaintiff's position. The
Georgia Court of Appeals has rejected legal interpretations
that would lead "virtually all criminal prosecutions . .
. [to] result in a civil lawsuit." Pinkston v. City
of Albany, 395 S.E.2d 587, 588-89 (Ga.Ct.App. 1990).
Presumably, it would even more strongly reject reading
O.C.G.A. § 9-3-99 to allow false-arrest claims to be
routinely filed six years after the events in question.
Federal precedent also counsels against applying O.C.G.A.
§ 9-3-99 in the manner Plaintiff requests: The Eleventh
Circuit has held that statute inapplicable to an
arrestee's Section 1983 claims because "she was not
the victim of the alleged crime, but instead she was the
defendant." Bridgewater v. DeKalb Cty. ex rel.
Jones, 430 F.App'x 837, 838 (11th Cir. 2011) (per
curiam); see also Sims v. Evans, No. 5:15-CV-285,
2015 WL 8773401, at *3 (M.D. Ga. Dec. 14, 2015) (holding no
tolling for false-arrest claim).
is nothing to the contrary in Valades v. Uslu, 689
S.E.2d 338 (Ga.Ct.App. 2009). There, the plaintiffs'
false-arrest claim was held not to be tolled because the
arresting officer was never prosecuted. Id. at 342.
But, as noted by Harrison v. McAfee, 788 S.E.2d 872,
878-79 (Ga.Ct.App. 2016)-which abrogated
Valades-Valades "did not make clear on what
basis the plaintiffs took the position that they were
"victims' within the meaning of [O.C.G.A. §
9-3-99]." Id. at 875. The Court will not rely
on Valades's unspoken assumption, especially not
when Harrison minimized it. Thus, Clifton's
false arrest claim is time-barred, and so must be dismissed
CLIFTON'S MALICIOUS ARREST CLAIM FAILS.
malicious arrest claim fails because a prosecution against
him commenced. Malicious arrest and malicious prosecution are
mutually exclusive torts, "differ[ing] only in that
malicious prosecution contains the additional element of
showing that a prosecution was carried on." McCord
v. Jones, 311 S.E.2d 209, 210 (Ga.Ct.App. 1983); see
also Stephens v. Zimmerman, 774 S.E.2d 811, 815
(Ga.Ct.App. 2015). Here, Clifton alleges that a prosecution
against him began. He claims that "Defendants refused to
drop . the felony indictment" against him for a long
time, he "was forced to expended [sic] thousands of
dollars in his defense, " and he "was forced to
defend himself in Court." Dkt. No. 1 ¶¶ 40,
44; see also Dkt. No. 14-1 ¶ 38 (stating
government only entered nolle prosequi after "lengthy,
contested hearing."). Thus, he cannot pursue a claim for
malicious arrest, and so this claim must be dismissed with
CLIFTON'S MOTION TO FILE HIS SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT IS