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D'Angelo v. Muldrew

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Statesboro Division

July 9, 2019

JUDGE MICHAEL T. MULDREW, et al., Defendants.


         Before the Court is plaintiff's Motion for Injunctive Relief or Temporary Restraining Order, doc. 2; defendants Mike Kiles and Unknown Sheriff's Deputy's Motion to Dismiss by Special Appearance, doc. 5;[1] plaintiff's Motion for Joinder of Party, doc. 7; defendants City of Sylvania and Tony Taylor's Motion to Dismiss, doc. 16; defendants Mike Kiles and Unknown Sheriff's Deputy's Second Motion to Dismiss, doc. 18; defendant's Keith McIntyre, and Michael T. Muldrew's Motion to Dismiss, doc. 19; defendants' Joint Motion to Stay, doc. 23; plaintiff's Motion for Default Judgment, doc. 24; and plaintiff's two Motions to Traverse, doc 25 and 30.

         Because the undersigned recommends GRANTING defendant's motions and the dismissal of plaintiff's case, defendants' Joint Motion to Stay Discovery and all Rule 26 Proceedings, doc. 23, is DISMISSED AS MOOT. Plaintiff's two Motions to Traverse, doc. 25 and 30, which the Court construes as a response in opposition to defendants' Motion to Stay and a reply in support of his motion for default judgment respectively, are DISMISSED AS MOOT. As to plaintiff's Motion for Default Judgment, doc. 24, and Motion for Joinder of a party, doc. 7, they should be DENIED.[2] Finally, plaintiff's Motion for Injunctive Relief or Temporary Restraining Order, doc. 2, should likewise be DISMISSED AS MOOT.


         Plaintiff filed this suit against various officials alleging an illegal search, illegal warrant, and illegal arrest. Despite its length, plaintiff's complaint is extremely light on details. However, he generally alleges that Judge Turner and Judge Muldrew deprived him of due process and equal protection via an administrative error. Doc. 1 at 6. He alleges that District and Assistant District Attorney Keith McIntyre obtained illegal video-tape testimony and used it to convict him. Id. He claims that Lt. Taylor-who the City of Sylvania failed to properly train-and an unknown police officer relied on warrant lacking probable cause to arrest him in his wife's house, which they entered without a search warrant.[3] Id. He also claims that Sheriff Kyles and an unknown deputy sheriff also helped arrest D'Angelo with the illegal warrant. Id. D'Angelo seeks “summary judgment” against all defendants, wants to be released from all state-control custody and obligations tied to his illegal conviction, [4] payment from each defendant in the amount of $275, 000, “out-of-pocket” compensation for work missed in the amount of $250, 000, and a $50, 000 payment for his wife for the invasion of her home.[5] Id. at 7. For the following reasons, these claims all fail.


         Plaintiff's claims against defendants broadly construed (he alleges almost no facts to support his claims), appear to be based on false arrest and malicious prosecution. Defendants have all filed motions to dismiss these charges. Docs. 16, 18, and 19. For the following reasons, the Court should GRANT defendants' motions to dismiss. Because plaintiff's claims are frivolous, and the defendants enjoy absolute immunity or the claims are barred due to the statute of limitations, no leave to amend is warranted here.

         To avoid dismissal for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the allegations in the complaint must “state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “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.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). That is, “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. While Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure does not require detailed factual allegations, “it demands more than an unadorned, the defendant unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. A complaint is insufficient if it “offers ‘labels and conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action, '” or if it “tenders ‘naked assertions' devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.'” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557). In short, the complaint must provide a “‘plain statement' possess[ing] enough heft to ‘sho[w] that the pleader is entitled to relief.'” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).

         I. Statute of Limitations and Judicial Immunity

         Plaintiff's claims appear to all be time barred. The statute of limitations for § 1983 claims “is that which the State provides for personal-injury torts.” Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 387 (2007) (cite omitted). Under Georgia law, the statute of limitations for such claims is two years. O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33; see Williams v. City of Atlanta, 794 F.2d 624, 626 (11th Cir. 1986). Generally, the statute of limitations for § 1983 claims begins to run when facts supporting the cause of action are or should be reasonably apparent to the claimant. Brown v. Ga. Bd. of Pardons & Paroles, 335 F.3d 1259, 1261 (11th Cir. 2003) (per curiam).

         Plaintiff alleges that these activities occurred in 2007 when the arrest warrant was issued, and plaintiff was detained pursuant to legal process. See e.g., Doc. 1-1 at 2. Any such allegations arising from these activities are untimely now, signature-filed as they were more than ten years later years later. Doc. 1 at 7 (signature-filed on October 1, 2018).

         Likewise, his claims against Judge Muldrew and District Attorney Keith McIntyre are dead on arrival. Judges, “are entitled to absolute judicial immunity from damages for those acts taken while they are acting in their judicial capacity.” Williams v. Alabama, 425 Fed.Appx. 824, 826 (11th Cir. 2011) (quoting Bolin v. Story, 225 F.3d 1234, 1239 (11th Cir. 2000)). That absolute judicial immunity “applies even when [a] judge's acts are in error, malicious, or were in excess of his or her jurisdiction.” Bolin, 225 F.3d at 1239. And prosecutors enjoy “absolute immunity in § 1983 actions for activities that are ‘intimately associated with the judicial phase of the criminal process.'” Hart v. Hodges, 587 F.3d 1288, 1294 (11th Cir. 2009) (quoting Van de Kamp v. Goldstein, 555 U.S. 335, 341 (2009)); see also Imbler v. Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409, 409 (1976) (“[I]n initiating a prosecution and in presenting the State's case, the prosecutor is immune from a civil suit for damages under § 1983.”); Jackson v. Capraun, 534 Fed.Appx. 854, 859 (11th Cir. 2013) (prosecutor entitled to absolute immunity for initiating prosecution even if he did so with malicious intent). In other words, any § 1983 claim for damages against the judges or prosecutors involved in D'Angelo's state criminal case cannot proceed. Even if these defects could somehow be remedied, however, plaintiff still does not state a viable claim for relief.

         II. False Arrest and Malicious Prosecution

         Plaintiff's complaint fails to state a claim for either false arrest or malicious prosecution. A claim for false arrest derives from the constitutional right to be free of “unreasonable searches and seizures.” U.S. Const. Amend. IV. A warrantless arrest made without probable cause violates the Fourth Amendment and forms the basis of a § 1983 claim for damages. Ortega v. Christian, 85 F.3d 1521, 1525 (11th Cir. 1996); Max v. Gumbinner, 905 F.2d 1503, 1505 (11th Cir. 1990); Von Stein v. Bresher, 904 F.2d. 572, 578 (11th Cir. 1990). The existence of probable cause, however, is a bar to § 1983 claims based on false arrest and false imprisonment. Ortega, 85 F.3d at 1525-26. Because “[a] cause of action for false or unlawful arrest cannot be pursued . . . when a person is arrested based on a warrant, ” D'Angelo's claim must fail. Norton v. Stidham, 2009 WL 5214484 at * 4 (W.D. Va. Dec. 29, 2009); Churchill v. Whitaker, 2005 WL 3534208 at *2 (N.D. Tex. Dec. 9, 2005 (same).

         In a case of continuing detention (as here), however, “false imprisonment ends once the victim becomes held pursuant to [legal] process - when, for example, he is bound over by a magistrate or arraigned on charges.” Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 389-90 (2009); see Chisholm, SPCR18-00137 & Chisholm, SPCR18-01351. Once an arrestee's unlawful detention becomes a product of legal process, his continued custody may still be unlawful, but any damages suffered after that point must be recovered under the “entirely distinct” tort of malicious prosecution, “which remedies detention accompanied not by the absence of legal process, but by wrongful institution of legal ...

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