United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Northern Division, Covington
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
William O. Bertelsman, United States District Judge
a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 civil rights case that presents the
narrow question of whether the statute of limitations for
such claims is tolled when a litigant receives an adverse
judgment from a state criminal court. After brief discovery
on that question, Defendants jointly filed a Motion for
Summary Judgment (Doc. 19). Having heard from the parties at
oral argument, the Court now issues this Memorandum Opinion
Factual and Procedural Background
case arises out of Plaintiff's arrest and prosecution in
Campbell County, Kentucky. The Kentucky Court of Appeals
summarized the facts as such:
Two officers on the Campbell County Drug Task Force (DTF)
arranged a controlled drug buy to be executed on September
24, 2013. Detective Brady Buemi was acting as backup for the
controlled buy. After arranging it with a confidential
informant (CI), Detective Ryan Marcus and Officer Christopher
Vance sat in a car and listened to the recorded conversation
of the CI and “J.” Following the buy, Detective
Marcus met with the CI who gave the purchased substances to
Officer Vance. Detective Marcus testified at the suppression
hearing before the trial court that the connection was made
that “J”, who had sold drugs to the CI, was . . .
Joseph Feltha. The second controlled buy was on October 16,
2013. Detective Buemi and Detective Bill Birkenhauer were
involved in this buy. The same CI was also involved. The CI
gave the detectives makeup instead of drugs. She said that
she ingested the drugs.
On December 12, 2013, the Campbell County Grand Jury indicted
Feltha for two counts of Trafficking in the First Degree,
Controlled Substance, Cocaine, on October 21, 2013;
Trafficking in the First Degree, Controlled Substance,
Cocaine, on September 24, 2013; and Possession of Marijuana
on September 30, 2013. On May 1, 2014, Feltha was also
indicted for being a First-Degree Persistent Felony Offender.
The Trafficking charges were later amended to Trafficking in
a simulated substance.
Feltha filed two motions to suppress evidence with the trial
court. The first was for his arrest and the second for the
search of his residence. On February 19, 2014, the trial
court allowed Feltha to file a third motion to suppress
wherein he asserted that the search warrant was defective.
On February 24, 2014, the trial court held a suppression
hearing and, thereafter, requested additional briefing from
counsel on the issue of the doctrine of inevitable discovery.
[In an order that became final on July 17, 2014, ] [t]he
trial court . . . overruled all of Feltha's motions
finding that the evidence would have been inevitably
discovered. Feltha then entered a conditional guilty plea to
all of the counts against him. He reserved the right to
appeal the denial of his suppression motion. Feltha was
sentenced to a combined twelve years on the charges.
Feltha v. Cmmw., 2014-CA-001308-MR, 2016 WL 837195,
at *1 (Ky. App. Mar. 4, 2016).
Kentucky Court of Appeals then reversed the Campbell County
Circuit Court's denial of the Motion to Suppress, finding
that there were “no objectively reasonable facts from
which the officers had probable cause for Feltha's
arrest” and that the search of Feltha's residence
violated the Fourth Amendment. Id. at *3. The
Kentucky Court of Appeals opinion became final on April 4,
2016. (Stipulations, Doc. 18, PageID# 104).
was released from state prison on April 28, 2016.
(Id.). He filed this suit on July 7, 2016.
(Complaint, Doc. 1, PageID# 1).
claims the arresting officers violated the Fourth, Fifth, and
Fourteenth Amendments by illegally searching his apartment
and illegally arresting him. (Complaint, Doc. 1, PageID# 3).
He also brings state law claims for false imprisonment,
negligence, and illegal search. (See generally
Complaint, Doc. 1).
juncture, Defendants do not challenge the merits of those
claims. Instead, Defendants have jointly filed a Motion to
Dismiss, arguing that all of Plaintiff's claims were
time-barred when Plaintiff filed this case on July 7, 2016.
This Court will address the § 1983 and state law claims
separately and in turn.
Plaintiff's § 1983 claims are dilatory.
The Kentucky one-year statute of limitations applies to