United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Oxford Division
M. VIRDEN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter comes before the court on the court's previous
order  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.
Show Cause Order
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.
plaintiff's arguments, set forth below, are not supported
in the law.
Statute of Limitations
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.
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
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. § 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,