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Walden v. Pryor

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Paducah Division

October 28, 2019

BENJAMIN WALDEN, et al., PLAINTIFFS
v.
LYNN PRYOR, et al., DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Thomas B. Russell, Senior Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant Lynn Pryor's Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim. [DN 20]. Plaintiffs Benjamin and Kristen Walden responded, [DN 25], and Defendant replied, [DN 26]. This matter is ripe for adjudication. For the reasons stated herein: Defendant's Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim, [DN 20], is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

         BACKGROUND

         On February 3, 2017, Ms. Pryor commenced a criminal action as a Commonwealth Attorney in Christian County, Kentucky against Mr. Walden for the following charges: 1st Degree Sodomy; 1st Degree Rape; Assault 4th Degree, Minor Injury; Promoting Prostitution; Official Misconduct, 1st Degree; Terroristic Threatening, 3rd Degree; Intimidating a Participant in a Legal Process; Retaliating Against a Participant in a Legal Process; and Tampering with a Witness. [DN 1-1 at 2-3]. Mr. Walden then filed the current action against Ms. Pryor in her official and individual capacities alleging claims of malicious prosecution, defamation and libel, outrage, false imprisonment, and violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. [See DN 1-1]. Subsequently, Ms. Pryor filed a Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim. [DN 4]. The Court partially granted the motion but allowed Mr. Walden's malicious prosecution and false imprisonment claims against Ms. Pryor in her individual capacity to continue. [DN 14].

         On June 21, 2019, the Court granted Mr. Walden's motion to file an amended complaint. [DN 16]. Mr. Walden's First Amended Complaint added three parties to the case: his wife, Kristen Walden, as a plaintiff, and the Kentucky State Police (“KSP”) and Kentucky State Trooper Zachary Jones as defendants. [DN 18]. Mr. Walden claims that KSP and Mr. Jones violated his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and committed malicious prosecution, defamation and libel, and outrage under state law. Id. at 86-89. Additionally, the First Amended Complaint states that Ms. Pryor breached her duty to disclose exculpatory evidence. Id. at 89. Finally, Ms. Walden asserts a claim for loss of consortium against each defendant. Id. at 87. Ms. Pryor then filed the Motion to Dismiss the First Amended Complaint currently before the Court. [DN 20].

         LEGAL STANDARD

         A complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). In order to survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a party must “plead enough ‘factual matter' to raise a ‘plausible' inference of wrongdoing.” 16630 Southfield Ltd. P'ship v. Flagstar Bank, F.S.B., 727 F.3d 502, 504 (6th Cir. 2013) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). A claim becomes plausible “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007)). When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court must presume all of the factual allegations in the complaint are true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Total Benefits Planning Agency, Inc., 552 F.3d at 434 (citing Great Lakes Steel, 716 F.2d at 1105). “The court need not, however, accept unwarranted factual inferences.” Id. (citing Morgan v. Church's Fried Chicken, 829 F.2d 10, 12 (6th Cir. 1987)). Should the well-pleaded facts support no “more than the mere possibility of misconduct, ” then dismissal is warranted. Iqbal, 556 U.S at 679. The Court may grant a motion to dismiss “only if, after drawing all reasonable inferences from the allegations in the complaint in favor of the plaintiff, the complaint still fails to allege a plausible theory of relief.” Garceau v. City of Flint, 572 Fed.Appx. 369, 371 (6th Cir. 2014) (citing Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 677-79).

         DISCUSSION

         There are four outstanding claims against Ms. Pryor: false imprisonment, loss of consortium, malicious prosecution, and breach of duty to disclose exculpatory evidence. The Court will address each claim below.

         I. False Imprisonment

         First, Ms. Pryor argues that Plaintiffs' false imprisonment claim should be dismissed because it was raised outside the relevant statute of limitations. [DN 20-1 at 102]. Pursuant to KRS 413.140(1)(c), malicious or false arrest claims have a one-year statute of limitations. Id. In this case, Mr. Walden was arrested on September 27, 2016 and released on October 7, 2016. Id. at 102-03. He may have been briefly detained after he was indicted on February 3, 2017. Id. at 103. Thus, Ms. Pryor argues, the latest Mr. Walden could bring his false imprisonment claim would be February 3, 2018. Id. However, the current action was not filed until October 22, 2018. Id. In their response, Plaintiffs do not dispute that KRS 413.140(1)(c) applies to their claim, but argue that the limitations period begins to run when the plaintiff discovers, or in the exercise of reasonable diligence should have discovered, his injury was caused by the defendant's conduct. [DN 25 at 133-34]. Mr. Walden claims he did not become aware that Ms. Pryor's conduct was actionable until the special prosecutor recommended all charges against him be dismissed in May 2018. Id. at 134. Thus, Plaintiffs believe their October 2018 Complaint was filed within the one-year statute of limitations. Id. Alternatively, Plaintiffs argue that the statute of limitations should be tolled because Ms. Pryor intentionally concealed her wrongdoing in order to induce Plaintiffs' inaction. Id.

         In Dunn v. Felty, the Kentucky Supreme Court addressed the issue: “when does the statute of limitations begin to run against an arrestee's claim for false imprisonment or false arrest?” Dunn v. Felty, 226 S.W.3d 68, 69 (Ky. 2007). First, the court noted that KRS 413.140(1)(c)'s one-year statute of limitations applies to claims for false imprisonment. Id. at 70-71. It then discussed the U.S. Supreme Court's holding in Wallace v. Kato in which a false imprisonment claim was filed nine years after the plaintiff's allegedly illegal arrest, but less than one year after prosecutors dropped charges against him. See Id. at 71 (citing Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 127 S.Ct. 1091, 166 L.Ed.2d 973 (2007)). In Wallace, the Supreme Court found that “limitations begin to run against an action for false imprisonment when the alleged false imprisonment ends.” Id. at 72 (citing Wallace, 549 U.S. at 1095-96) (internal citations omitted). The Court reasoned that because “false imprisonment consists of detention without legal process, a false imprisonment ends once the victim becomes held pursuant to such process-when for example, he is bound over by a magistrate or arraigned on charges.” Id. (citing Wallace, 549 U.S. at 1095-96). The Kentucky Supreme Court adopted the Court's reasoning and concluded that “Dunn's false imprisonment ended when he became held pursuant to legal process, ” i.e., “when he was arraigned on the charges.” Id. Since Dunn filed his claim more than 17 months after his arraignment, the action was time-barred by the one-year statute of limitations. Id.; see also Thieneman v. Smith, No. 3:17-CV-292-DJH, 2018 WL 1522357, at *10 (W.D. Ky. Mar. 28, 2018); Hyche v. Molett, No. 2016-CA-000089-MR, 2018 WL 2187006, at *4 (Ky. Ct. App. May 11, 2018).

         In this case, Mr. Walden's false imprisonment claim was untimely. Mr. Walden was arrested on September 27, 2016 and released on October 7, 2016. [DN 21-1 at 102-03]. According to the Christian County District Court's docket, Mr. Walden was arraigned on September 28, 2016. [DN 20-3]. Pursuant to Kentucky case law, Mr. Walden's alleged false imprisonment ended when he was arraigned on the charges. Therefore, the statute of limitations for Mr. Walden's false imprisonment claim began running on September 28, 2016. See Dunn v. Felty, 226 S.W.3d 68, 74 (Ky. 2007). Since Mr. Walden did not file his false imprisonment claim until nearly two years later on October 22, 2018, his claim is barred by the one-year statute of limitations. Moreover, the Court is unpersuaded that Ms. Pryor intentionally deceived Plaintiff in order to prevent him from filing his cause of action in a timely manner. Thus, Plaintiff's argument that the statute of limitations should be tolled is without merit. Accordingly, Ms. Pryor's motion to dismiss is GRANTED and Plaintiff's false imprisonment claim is dismissed with prejudiced.

         II. Loss ...


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