United States District Court, D. Minnesota
N. ERICKSEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Honorable Leo I. Brisbois, United States Magistrate Judge,
has recommended that the Court dismiss Plaintiff Taeng
Yang's claim that the above-captioned Defendants
unlawfully arrested him. Report & Recommendation 7-8,
Dkt. No. 29. On Defendants' Motion, Mot., Dkt. No. 9, the
Magistrate Judge writes that the statute of limitations bars
Yang's claim. In a November 2, 2017 Order, the Magistrate
Judge also denied Yang's Motion to Amend his claim as
futile. Order 5 n.3, Dkt. No. 28. Yang objects. Obj'n,
Dkt. No. 32. Defendants respond. Dkt. No. 33.
Court now decides, based on a de novo review of the record,
whether to dismiss Yang's claim. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1); LR 72.2(b)(3). The Court also decides
whether to set aside the Magistrate Judge's Order for
clear or legal error. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(a); LR
sued the Police for an allegedly unlawful arrest years after
March 28, 2017, Yang sued the City of St. Paul Police
Department and its current or former officers Michael
McNeill, Seth Wilson, Matthew Toupal (collectively,
“the Police”) for arresting him in violation of
the Fourth Amendment. See Compl. 6-7, Dkt. No. 1.
That arrest “produced the evidence that led to, ”
ultimately, Yang's March 7, 2011 sentencing to prison.
State v. Theng Yang, 814 N.W.2d 716, 722
(Minn.Ct.App. 2012); Warrant of Commitment, Dkt. No. 25-1;
see Compl. 5. The Minnesota Court of Appeals vacated
Yang's sentence after ruling his arrest unlawful and
excluding the produced evidence. Yang, 814 N.W.2d at
722. Yang now wants damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for
that arrest. Compl. 1, 7. And, moving to elaborate on his
claim, he seeks to allege his imprisonment and emotional
distress. See Motion to Amend, Dkt. No. 21; Proposed
Compl. 5-6, Dkt. No. 21-2.
an unlawful-arrest claim, a plaintiff has six years to sue
from when he was first detained pursuant to legal process
after his allegedly unlawful arrest.
dismiss a claim for an affirmative defense, a court must find
that affirmative defense on the complaint's face,
“which includes public records . . . embraced by the
complaint.” A.H. ex rel. Hubbard v. Midwest Bus
Sales, Inc., 823 F.3d 448, 453 (8th Cir. 2016) (internal
marks omitted) (affirming dismissal because of affirmative
defense). Affirmative defenses include the statute of
limitations. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(c)(1). The statute of limitations
applies to pro se plaintiffs, despite a court's duty to
liberally construe their claims. Anunka v. City of
Burnsville, 534 F. App'x 575, 576 (8th Cir. 2013)
(per curiam) (affirming pro se plaintiff's dismissal as
time-barred). A court may likewise deny a motion to amend a
complaint for futility when the “amended complaint
would not survive a . . . motion to dismiss.”
Briscoe v. Cty. of St. Louis, 690 F.3d 1004, 1015
(8th Cir. 2012) (affirming denial of motion to amend for
“a § 1983 claim seeking damages for a false arrest
in violation of the Fourth Amendment, where the arrest is
followed by criminal proceedings, ” the statute of
limitations begins to run “at the time the claimant
becomes detained pursuant to legal process.”
Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 397 (2007) (affirming
time bar on unlawful-arrest claim). Detention pursuant to
legal process begins, and the unlawful arrest ends, once the
plaintiff is “bound over by a magistrate or arraigned
on charges.” Id. at 389. And even if
“damages for detention pursuant to legal process”
are “consequential damages attributable to the unlawful
arrest, that would not alter the commencement date for the
statute of limitations.” Id. at 391. Besides,
those legal-process damages are “chargeable to
defendants other than” the arresting police.
unlawful-arrest claims under section 1983, the statute of
limitations begins to run when it does because “the
plaintiff can file suit and obtain relief” during the
time between his detention pursuant to legal process and his
conviction. Id. at 388; cf. Heck v.
Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 487 (1994) (“A claim for
damages [from] a conviction or sentence that has not been so
invalidated is not cognizable under § 1983.”).
This early ability to sue contrasts with unfair-trial claims
under section 1983, which must wait until the allegedly
unfair trial's conviction is thrown out. See Buckley
v. Ray, 848 F.3d 855, 867 (8th Cir.), cert.
denied, 137 S.Ct. 2314 (2017).
the statute of limitations begins to run for a section 1983
claim, how long a plaintiff has to sue depends on the state
from which the claim arose. In Minnesota, a plaintiff has six
years to sue. Anunka, 534 F. App'x at 576. And,
to toll those six years, that plaintiff must “allege
sufficient facts to support a basis for tolling.”
Id. Because state law governs tolling of section
1983 claims, that basis must cite Minnesota state law
“providing tolling in . . . comparable
circumstances.” See Wallace, 549 U.S. at 394.
Without a state-law basis, a federal court may not toll the
statute of limitations for a plaintiff's criminal
But when has it been the law that a criminal defendant . . .
is absolved from all other responsibilities that the law
would otherwise place upon him? If a defendant has a
breach-of-contract claim against the prime contractor for his
new home, is he entitled to tolling for that as well while
his criminal case is pending?
Id. at 396.
March 28, 2017 claim for unlawful arrest is time-barred
because, after that arrest, he was sentenced pursuant to
legal process on March 7, 2011, more than six years before he
filed his claim.
claim is time-barred. On March 28, 2017, Yang sued the
Police. But Yang was detained pursuant to legal process
sometime before his March 7, 2011 sentencing. Public records
evidence that sentencing; Yang's Complaint embraces those
public records because he refers to his now-vacated sentence.
Yang's sentencing was after and flowed from his
arraignment or equivalent procedure, which marks legal
process's advent, no matter what happens later. So,
Yang's six years to sue had already started by March 7,
2011. And he sued more than six years later. No tolling
applies here because ...