United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
LAKE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
plaintiff, Brandon Wilson (SPN #02476226), has filed a
Complaint for Violation of Civil Rights under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 ("Complaint") (Docket Entry No. 1), in
connection with criminal charges that were filed against him
for auto theft in 2012. Because the plaintiff is a prisoner
who proceeds in forma pauperis, the court is
required to scrutinize the claims and dismiss the Complaint,
in whole or in part, if it determines that the Complaint
"is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted" or "seeks monetary
relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief."
28 U.S.C. § l9l5A(b); see also 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B). After considering all of the pleadings, the
court concludes that this case must be dismissed for the
reasons explained below.
records reflect that Wilson is presently in custody at the
Harris County Jail on sexual assault charges lodged against
him in No. 1557889, which is pending in the 183rd District
Court for Harris County, Texas. Invoking 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
Wilson now sues the Hertz Rental Car company
("Hertz"), claiming that he was falsely charged
with theft and making a fraudulent transfer of a motor
vehicle after he rented a car from them in November of
2011.In support of that claim, Wilson provides a
news article that is dated February 2, 2012, which reports
that Wilson and an associate were charged with felony theft
and fraudulent transfer of a motor vehicle after renting a
car from Hertz in November 2011, and then selling it to an
unsuspecting victim on Craigslist.
court records confirm that the charges of theft and
fraudulent transfer of a motor vehicle were dismissed on July
17, 2013, after Wilson was convicted in two other
cases. Arguing that Hertz "slandered"
his name by accusing of theft, Wilson seeks monetary damages
from Hertz for his false arrest.
court does not reach the underlying merits of Wilson's
claims because his Complaint is untimely. Wilson's civil
rights claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 are governed by the
two-year statute of limitations provided by Texas law.
See Piotrowski v. City of Houston, 237 F.3d 567, 576
(5th Cir. 2001); Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. §
16.003(a). This means that Wilson had two years from the time
that his claims accrued to file a civil rights complaint
concerning his allegations. See Gonzalez v. Wyatt,
157 F.3d 1016, 1020 (5th Cir. 1998) .
law determines when a cause of action accrues under §
1983. See Smith v. Regional Transit Auth.. 827 F.3d
412, 421 (5th Cir. 2016) . A cause of action for false arrest
and unlawful detention accrues when charges are filed and the
plaintiff is detained pursuant to legal process. See
Wallace v. Kato, 127 S.Ct. 1091, 1100 (2007); Mapes
v. Bishop, 541 F.3d 582, 584 (5th Cir. 2008) (per
curiam) . Wilson's submissions make clear that he was
detained pursuant to legal process shortly after his arrest
in 2012. His Complaint is dated February 27,
2019. Thus, his claims of false arrest are
barred by the two-year statute of limitations, which expired
well before he executed his Complaint. These claims are
subject to dismissal as legally frivolous. See Gartell v.
Gaylor, 981 F.2d 254, 256 (5th Cir. 1993).
Wilson's allegations of defamation do not state a claim
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 because claims of libel or
slander are actionable, if at all, only under state law.
See Cook v. Houston Post, 616 F.2d 791, 794-95 (5th
Cir. 1980). To the extent that Wilson asserts a state law
claim, a defamation claim under Texas law is governed by a
one-year statute of limitations. See Tex. Civ. Prac.
& Rem. Code § 16.002(a). A cause of action for
defamation accrues when a defamatory statement is published.
See San Antonio Credit Union v. O'Connor, 115
S.W.3d 82, 96 (Tex. App. - San Antonio 2003, pet. denied)
(citing Kelley v. Rinkle, 532 S.W.2d 947, 949 (Tex.
1976)). Because Wilson complains about a news report
concerning his arrest that was published on February 2, 2012,
claims are well outside the one-year statute of limitations.
For this additional reason, Wilson's Complaint is
untimely and legally frivolous.
Conclusion and Order
on the foregoing, the court ORDERS as
1. The Complaint for Violation of Civil Rights filed by
Brandon Wilson (Docket Entry No. 1) is DISMISSED with
2. The dismissal will count as a "strike" for
purposes of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g).
Clerk is directed to provide a copy of this Memorandum
Opinion and Order to the plaintiff and to the Manager of the
Three Strikes List for the Southern ...