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Lamb v. Smith

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Bowling Green Division

January 9, 2019


          William Lamb, pro se.



         This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (DN 6). The motion is ripe for adjudication. For the reasons provided below, the motion is GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On September 13, 2014, Plaintiff William Lamb (“Lamb”) was in a motor vehicle accident in Warren County, Kentucky. (Defs.' Mem. Supp. Mot. Dismiss 2, DN 6-1 [hereinafter Defs.' Mot. Dismiss]). Two Defendants, Kentucky State Police Troopers Chad Smith (“Trooper Smith”) and Joshua Amos (“Trooper Amos”), were dispatched to the scene. (Defs.' Mot. Dismiss 2). According to Lamb, when Troopers Smith and Amos arrived, he instructed them that he had arranged for a wrecking service to attend to his vehicle. (Compl. 4, DN 1). Trooper Smith allegedly informed Lamb, over his objections, that KSP's towing service would tow the vehicle instead. (Compl. 4). After paramedics on the scene finished speaking with Lamb, Troopers Smith and Amos asked Lamb for his driver's license. (Compl. 4). Lamb alleges that he asked the Troopers to articulate probable cause for requesting his license, at which point Trooper Smith allegedly “put his hands on [Lamb] good an[d] hard . . . .” (Compl. 4). According to Lamb, as he began to turn around, Troopers Smith and Amos “football tackled” him and arrested him for menacing. (Compl. 4).

         On the way to the jail, the troopers allegedly drove dangerously over the speed limit and persisted in asking Lamb questions despite his invocation of the Fifth Amendment. (Compl. 4-5). Lamb alleges that once he arrived at the jail, another Defendant, Sergeant Jermaine Savage (“Sergeant Savage”), [1] began to further question him about the incident and cursed at him after Lamb refused to answer his questions. (Compl. 5). After examining Lamb, a nurse at the jail recommended that he be taken to the hospital because of his heart rate and blood pressure. (Compl. 5). While being transported to the hospital, Trooper Smith allegedly slammed on the brakes in an attempt to cause Lamb's face to strike the partition in the patrol car. (Compl, 5). At the hospital, Sergeant Savage allegedly continued interrogating Lamb and Trooper Smith threatened him with violence if Lamb continued telling hospital staff what had happened. (Compl. 5).

         On October 7, 2014, Lamb was arraigned in Warren District Court and charged with having no operator's license, failing to maintain required insurance, menacing, resisting arrest, possessing a cancelled or fictitious operator's license, and giving an officer a false name or address. (Defs.' Mot. Dismiss Ex. B, at 6, DN 6-3). On August 11, 2017, Lamb was convicted by a jury of all but the fictitious operator's license charge and later sentenced to forty-five days imprisonment on September 12, 2017. (Defs.' Mot. Dismiss Ex. B, at 2-3).

         Lamb filed his present suit on July 20, 2018, asserting claims of assault and battery, false arrest, and theft of his vehicle, and for the resulting forty-five-day jail sentence recommended by the jury. (Compl. 6). Defendants have moved to dismiss Lamb's claims under Fed. R. Civ. P.12(b)(6) on several grounds, including that Lamb's claims are untimely and barred by Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). (Defs.' Mot. Dismiss 2).


         A complaint will be dismissed when it “fail[s] to state a claim upon which relief can be granted . . . .” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Considering motions under Rule 12(b)(6) requires the Court to construe the complaint in the most favorable light for the nonmoving party, accepting ‘as true all factual allegations and permissible inferences therein.'” Gazette v. City of Pontiac, 41 F.3d 1061, 1064 (6th Cir. 1994) (citation omitted). Though pleadings need not contain detailed factual allegations, the nonmoving party must allege facts that when “accepted as true . . . ‘state claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 663 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). When a plaintiff proceeds pro se, the Court is to hold his pleadings “to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers . . . .” Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972) (internal citation omitted).


         While Defendants may disagree with Lamb's rendition of events, upon a motion to dismiss, the Court will accept as true “all factual allegations and permissible inferences” contained in the Complaint. Gazette, 41 F.3d at 1064. Even assuming the truth of Lamb's allegations, all his claims may nevertheless be dismissed. First, Lamb's claims for assault, battery, false arrest, and theft are time-barred under Kentucky's one-year statute of limitations. See Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 387 (2007); KRS 413.140(1). Second, Lamb's Section 1983 claim for his forty-five-day prison sentence is barred by Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994).

         A. Lamb's claims for assault, battery, false arrest, and theft

         Because federal law does not otherwise provide for an applicable state of limitations, constitutional claims asserted under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 are governed by the statute of limitations for personal injury actions in the state where the cause of action occurred. Kato, 549 U.S. at 387. Under Kentucky law, actions premised on personal injury, arrest, and theft “shall ...

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