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Pruitt v. Ohio Department of Rehabilitation & Correction

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Tenth District

August 29, 2013

Kenneth Pruitt, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, Defendant-Appellee.

APPEAL from Court of Claims of Ohio (Ct. of Cl. No. 2012-08591)

Kenneth Pruitt, pro se.

Michael DeWine, Attorney General, and Emily M. Simmons, for appellee.

DECISION

KLATT, P.J.

(¶ 1} Plaintiff-appellant, Kenneth Pruitt, appeals from a judgment of the Court of Claims of Ohio granting a motion to dismiss his complaint for failure to state a claim filed by defendant-appellee, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction ("ODRC"). For the following reasons, we affirm that judgment.

I. Factual and Procedural Background

(¶ 2} On December 6, 2012, appellant filed a complaint in the trial court alleging that he had been kept in prison beyond his lawful term of imprisonment. Specifically, appellant's complaint and attached documents indicated that he had pled guilty in the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas to a number of charges in 2010 and received a total prison sentence of five years. Although his sentencing entry noted that he was to receive jail-time credit, the entry did not include the number of days of such credit. As a result, he filed a motion to clarify his award of jail-time credit. On February 17, 2011, the Hamilton County court filed an "Entry Granting Motion for Jail Time Credit" in which it credited appellant with 1, 530 days of jail-time credit. On the next day, however, the same court filed an "Order, " in which it set aside the February 17 entry (the order indicated that the previous entry had been "inadvertently entered") and, instead, granted appellant 553 days of jail-time credit. Appellant claimed in his complaint that the February 18 order was a "forged document, illicitly sent by the trial court's bailiff to hold him beyond his lawful term of imprisonment by reducing his jail-time credit by almost 1, 000 days.

(¶ 3} ODRC filed a motion to dismiss appellant's complaint for its failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. In part, ODRC argued that it could not be liable for false imprisonment because it held appellant at all times pursuant to the facially valid sentencing entry of February 18, 2011. The trial court granted the motion, concluding that appellant could not maintain a cause of action for false imprisonment because his claim was based on the facially valid sentencing order of February 18, 2011. While appellant did argue that the order was forged, the trial court noted that his complaint identified nothing on the face of the order that would indicate its invalidity. Accordingly, the trial court dismissed appellant's complaint against ODRC.

II. The Appeal

(¶ 4} Appellant appeals the dismissal and assigns the following errors:

[1.] The Court of Claims erred in dismissing the complaint against Defendant without considering evidence whether their actions were in the scope of their authority.
[2.] The court of claims erred in dismissing the complaint before determining Plaintiffs Motion for Declaratory Judgment of the Pleadings.
[3.] The Court of Claims erred by dismissing the false imprisonment claim for lack of jurisdiction.
[4.] The Court of Claims erred in dismissing the complaint upon Defendant's Motion for ...

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