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Hampton v. Bohlke

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Oxford Division

October 29, 2019

WILLIE HAMPTON PLAINTIFF
v.
THOMAS J. BOHLKE, ET AL. DEFENDANTS

          FINAL JUDGMENT

          JANE M. VIRDEN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter comes before the court on the court's previous order [7] requiring the plaintiff to show cause why the instant case should not be dismissed as untimely filed and under the doctrine of collateral estoppel. The plaintiff sought leave to file a “Second Supplemental and Amended Reply, ” which he presented to the court on August 23, 2019. The court recounted the facts and procedural history of this case in the June 13, 2019, Show Cause Order and will not repeat them here.

         The Show Cause Order

         In its order, the court requested briefing regarding whether the three-year statute of limitations had expired prior to the filing of the instant case. The court also requested briefing as to the issue of collateral estoppel, as it appears that: (1) all of the claims in this case were dismissed with prejudice in the plaintiff's previous federal case (Hampton v. Tunica Co. Bd. of Supervisors, 2:06CV100-SA-SAA (N.D. Miss.)), and (2) in any event, as to his claims of improper forfeiture, the plaintiff succeeded in state court by securing an order requiring the defendants to return his property to him.

         The Plaintiff's Arguments

         The plaintiff's arguments, set forth below, are not supported in the law.

         Three-Year Statute of Limitations[1]

         The plaintiff argues that the court should not look to November 1, 2000, the date his forfeiture claims initially arose, as the time when the three-year limitations period began to run. He argues, instead, that the three-year statute of limitations began to run on May 10, 2018, the date the Mississippi Supreme Court upheld the state trial court's ruling in his favor regarding forfeiture. The State's forfeiture action moved forward, in fits and starts, from the trial court to the Mississippi Supreme Court and back, from its filing on April 6, 2000, until Mr. Hampton eventually obtained a ruling in the trial court that the process took so long that it violated his right to a speedy trial. Tunica County v. One Mercury Cougar, VIN #OF9111545940, No. 2000-0080 (Tunica Co. Circuit Court), Order Dated November 4, 2016. The court ordered Tunica County to return Mr. Hampton's property. The Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's ruling in favor of Mr. Hampton on May 10, 2018.

         Federal law determines when a § 1983 plaintiff's cause of action accrues, while state law governs the tolling inquiry. Walker v. Epps, 550 F.3d 407, 414, 416 (5th Cir. 2008). “Federal law holds generally that an action accrues when a plaintiff has a complete and present cause of action, or expressed differently, when the plaintiff can file suit and obtain relief.” Walker, 550 F.3d at 414 (citing Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 388 (2007) (internal quotation marks and additional citations omitted). Mr. Hampton knew of the facts giving rise to his improper forfeiture claims by at least November 1, 2000, and he knew of the facts giving rise to his other claims before then. He was free to pursue relief for those perceived violations in federal court at any time, and he did so in Hampton v. Tunica Co. Bd. of Supervisors, 2:06CV100-SA-SAA (N.D. Miss.), though he chose to voluntarily dismiss that case with prejudice.

         Mississippi's three-year general limitations period can be tolled by the filing of a complaint:

Under Mississippi law, the filing of a complaint tolls the statute of limitations as to the claims sued upon for the 120 days permitted for service. Watters v. Stripling, 675 So.2d 1242, 1244 (Miss.1996). And “[a]ssuming proper service of process, filing a complaint tolls the statute of limitations until a suit's dismissal.” Nelson v. Baptist Mem'l Hosp.-N. Miss., Inc., 972 So.2d 667, 671 (Miss.Ct.App.2007) (citing Canadian Nat'l/Ill. Cent. R.R. v. Smith, 926 So.2d 839, 845 (Miss.2006)). But “[i]f, after 120 days, the defendant has not been served, the period of limitation begins to run again.” Jeffrey Jackson and Mary Miller, 5 MS Prac. Encyclopedia MS Law § 44:22 (citing Watters v. Stripling, 675 So.2d 1242 (Miss.1996)).

Chestang v. Alcorn State Univ., 940 F.Supp.2d 424, 430 (S.D.Miss. 2013). This rule may be found in Mississippi's savings statute, Miss. Code Ann. § 15-1-69, which reads:

If in any action, duly commenced within the time allowed, the writ shall be abated, or the action otherwise avoided or defeated, by the death of any party thereto, or for any matter of form, or if, after verdict for the plaintiff, the judgment shall be arrested, or if a judgment for the plaintiff shall be reversed on appeal, the plaintiff may commence a new action for the same cause, at any time within one year after the abatement or other determination of the original suit, or after reversal of the judgment therein, and his executor or administrator may, in case of the plaintiff's death, commence such new action, within the said one year.

Miss. Code. Ann. ยง 15-1-69. Mr. Hampton has not shown that he filed a complaint within three years of November 1, 2000. As such, the savings statute does not apply, and his causes of action accrued, at the latest, on November 1, 2000, and he has not set forth a valid reason to toll the limitations period. Hence, his deadline for seeking relief in federal court on these claims expired on November 1, 2003, ...


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