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Bogus v. Harris County District Attorney

United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division

October 17, 2019

BRETT DAVID BOGUS, Plaintiff,
v.
HARRIS COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          KEITH P. ELLISON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff, a state inmate proceeding pro se and in forma pauper is, filed this section 1983 civil complaint seeking monetary damages and declarative relief against fifty defendants on various constitutional and state law claims.

         Having screened the complaint pursuant to sections 1915 and 1915A, the Court DISMISSES this lawsuit for the reasons explained below.

         I. BACKGROUND AND CLAIMS

         Plaintiff was charged with felony theft that occurred in 2011 in Harris County, Texas. He pleaded guilty to the charges in August 2015 and was sentenced to twenty years' imprisonment.

         In the instant lawsuit, plaintiff names as defendants fifty individuals and entities located throughout multiple cities and states. His claims allege various related and unrelated acts by the defendants commencing as far back as 2011, [1] some of which took place during the investigation and prosecution of the felony theft case. It appears on the face of the pleadings that all of the claims brought by plaintiff under section 1983 are barred by limitations. Nevertheless, it is clear to the Court that the majority of plaintiff s claims are state law claims against defendants who are not state actors; these defendants cannot be held liable under section 1983. Moreover, a number of the claims are against state prosecutors and are barred by prosecutorial immunity. Other claims arising from plaintiffs criminal prosecution and conviction are currently barred by Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994).

         II. ANALYSIS

         Because plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauper is and is a prisoner who has sued a government entity or employee of a government entity, his complaint is subject to sua sponte dismissal if it is "frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted." 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1); see also 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(i), (ii). A complaint is frivolous if it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact. Neitzhe v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989); Brewster v. Drethe, 587 F.3d 764, 767 (5th Cir. 2009).

         Plaintiffs claims are subject to dismissal on one or more of the following grounds.

         A. Limitations Bar

         42 U.S.C. § 1983 does not have its own statute of limitations. With respect to claims brought pursuant to section 1983, a federal court must borrow the forum state's general personal injury limitations period. See Owens v. Okure, 488 U.S. 235, 249-50 (1989). In Texas, the applicable period of limitations is two years. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 16.003. See King-White v. Humble Indep. Sch. Dist., 803 F.3d 754, 759-61 (2015); Piotrowski v. City of Houston, 51 F.3d512, 515 n.5 (5th Cir. 1995). Thus, plaintiff s section 1983 claims are subject to a two-year statute of limitations.

         Although the applicable limitations period is determined by state law, the accrual of a cause of action is resolved by federal law. Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 388 (2007). The limitations period commences when the aggrieved party has either knowledge of the violation or notice of facts which, in the exercise of due diligence, would have led to actual knowledge of the violation. Newman v. Coffin, 464 Fed.Appx. 359, 362 (5th Cir. 2012). "The requisite knowledge that a plaintiff must have to begin the running of the limitations period is merely that of the facts forming the basis of his cause of action, . .. not that of the existence of the cause of action itself." Jensen v. Snellings, 841 F.2d 600, 606 (5th Cir. 1988) (internal quotation marks omitted).

         In the instant case, plaintiff alleges that the events giving rise to his claims under section 1983 occurred during the years 201 l through 2015, culminating in his August 2015 guilty plea. Plaintiffs pleadings show that his claims accrued prior to the entry of his guilty plea, and that limitations expired two years thereafter, in August 2017. His pleadings further show that he was aware of the facts giving rise to the claims prior to his guilty plea in 2015. Plaintiff did not file this lawsuit until August 26, 2019. As a result, plaintiffs pleadings show that his section 1983 claims are barred by limitations, and the claims are DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.

         B. Non ...


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