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Harriot v. DOJ

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

September 11, 2019

Michael Owen Harriot, #96039-071 Plaintiff,
v.
DOJ, Jeff Sessions, Former U.S. Attorney General; Irene Josey, Former U.S. Attorney; Stacey D. Haynes, AUSA; Scarlet A. Wilson, Former AUSA; Robert Waizenhofer, FBI Special Agent; Rodney Pritchard, FBI Special Agent; Charles Klatz, FBI Special Agent; Unknown I.N.S. Agents, Department of Homeland Security, and Unknown Sheriffs, Richland County Sheriff Department, Defendants.

          ORDER

          JOSEPH F. ANDERSON, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Michael Owen Harriot, (“Plaintiff”), a prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, brings this action claiming a violation of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (ECF No. 1). Plaintiff seeks monetary damages and injunctive relief. (ECF No. 1). (ECF No. 1). In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(c) (D.S.C.), the case was referred to the Magistrate Judge.

         The Magistrate Judge assigned to this action[1] prepared a thorough Report and Recommendation (“Report”) and opines that Plaintiff's complaint should be dismissed without issuance and service of process. (ECF No. 16). The Report sets forth, in detail, the relevant facts and standards of law on this matter, and this Court incorporates those facts and standards without a recitation.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         The Court is charged with making a de novo determination of those portions of the Report to which specific objections are made, and the Court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge, or recommit the matter to the Magistrate Judge with instructions. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). However, a district court is only required to conduct a de novo review of the specific portions of the Magistrate Judge's Report to which an objection is made. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b); Carniewski v. W. Virginia Bd. of Prob. & Parole, 974 F.2d 1330 (4th Cir. 1992). In the absence of specific objections to portions of the Report of the Magistrate, this Court is not required to give an explanation for adopting the recommendation. See Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 199 (4th Cir. 1983).

         III. DISCUSSION

         The Report recites the factual and procedural background giving rise to this action in detail, which is incorporated by reference. Briefly, Plaintiff alleges that under §1983, he was illegally arrested without probable cause or a warrant and was illegally questioned and detained. (ECF No. 1). Further, the Court did not have jurisdiction over him because he had not committed any federal offenses. (ECF No. 1). Plaintiff seeks monetary damages and injunctive relief. (ECF No. 1).

         A. Plaintiff's Claims Related to his Conviction and Sentence

         The Magistrate Judge correctly opines that Plaintiff's claims concerning his alleged false arrest and imprisonment are barred by the holding in Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). In Heck, the Supreme Court held that “in order to recover damages from allegedly unconstitutional conviction or imprisonment, or for other harm whose unlawfulness would render a conviction or sentence invalid, …a § 1983 Plaintiff must prove that the conviction or sentence has been reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive order, declared invalid by a state tribunal authorized to make such a determination, or called into question by a federal court's issuance of a writ of habeas corpus, 28 U.S.C. § 2254.” The holding in Heck also applies to declaratory and injunctive relief if a judgment in the Plaintiff's favor would necessarily imply the invalidity of the conviction. See Edwards v. Balisok, 520 U.S. 641, 648 (1997) (Heck bars declaratory judgment action challenging validity of state criminal conviction).

         As the District Court, we must “consider whether judgment in favor of the Plaintiff would necessarily imply the invalidity of his conviction or sentence; if it would, the complaint must be dismissed unless the Plaintiff can demonstrate the conviction or sentence has already been invalidated.” Heck, 512 U.S. at 487. The Report submits that a judgment in Plaintiff's favor on his false arrestment and imprisonment claims would necessarily imply the invalidity of his subsequent conviction. (ECF No. 16). However, in his Objections to the Report, Plaintiff states that Heck does not bar his claims because he was not “arrested with a valid facially warrant.” (ECF No. 19). Heck does not distinguish between cases in which Plaintiffs were or were not arrested with a valid warrant. Rather, Heck applies when a Plaintiff brings a § 1983 action alleging the unconstitutionality of his conviction or imprisonment and seeks monetary damages or injunctive relief. As Plaintiff has asserted claims for false arrest and imprisonment under §1983 and seeks millions of dollars in damages and injunctive relief, the Magistrate Judge properly applied Heck to Plaintiff's complaint. By applying Heck, Plaintiff's claims are barred unless Plaintiff can demonstrate or allege that he has successfully challenged his convictions. Although Plaintiff filed objections to the Report, he was unable to demonstrate that his conviction has been successfully challenged. (ECF No. 19). Therefore, the Court accepts the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge and dismisses these claims.

         B. Statute of Limitations

         The Magistrate Judge correctly opines that Plaintiff's civil rights claims are barred by South Carolina's statute of limitations. (ECF No. 16). Under South Carolina law, the statute of limitations for a personal injury is three years. See S.C. Code Ann. § 15-3-530(5). As the Report states, Plaintiff's complaint concerns events that occurred in July 1999 and as such, the limitations period for Plaintiff to file suit against Defendants has expired. See Finch v. McCormick Corr. Ins., C/A No. 4:11-858-JMC-TER, 2012 WL 2871665, at 3 (D.S.C. June 15, 2012).

         In the Objections, Plaintiff submits that a cause of action under § 1983 accrues when “the Plaintiff possesses sufficient facts about the harm done to him that reasonably inquiry will reveal his cause of action. See United State v. Kubrick, 444 U.S. 111, 122-24 (1979).” (ECF No. 19). However, Plaintiff's reliance on case law is misplaced because Kubrick refers to the statute of limitations for claims arising under the Federal Tort Claims Act. U.S. v. Kubrick, 444 U.S. 111, 100 S.Ct. 352, 353 (1979). Whereas, Plaintiff's cause of action arises under §1983. The Supreme Court has made clear that “federal law looks to the law of the state in which the cause of action arose” to determine the applicable statute of limitations. See Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 387 (2007).” Accordingly, ...


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