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Ellis v. Department of Rehabilitation and Correction

Court of Claims of Ohio

May 6, 2019

WILLIAM W. ELLIS Plaintiff
v.
DEPARTMENT OF REHABILITATION AND CORRECTION Defendant

          Sent to S.C. Reporter 6/20/19

          Gary Peterson, Magistrate

          ENTRY GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          PATRICK M. MCGRATH, JUDGE

         {¶1} On March 1, 2019, defendant filed a motion for summary judgment pursuant to Civ.R. 56(B). On March 29, 2019, plaintiff filed an untimely memorandum in opposition. L.C.C.R. 4(C). Nevertheless, the court will consider plaintiffs memorandum. The motion for summary judgment is now before the court for a non-oral hearing pursuant to L.C.C.R. 4(D).

         {¶2} Civ.R. 56(C) states, in part, as follows:

         {¶3} "Summary judgment shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, written admissions, affidavits, transcripts of evidence, and written stipulations of fact, if any, timely filed in the action, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. No evidence or stipulation may be considered except as stated in this rule. A summary judgment shall not be rendered unless it appears from the evidence or stipulation, and only from the evidence or stipulation, that reasonable minds can come to but one conclusion and that conclusion is adverse to the party against whom the motion for summary judgment is made, that party being entitled to have the evidence or stipulation construed most strongly in the party's favor." See also Gilbert v. Summit Cty., 104 Ohio St.3d 660, 2004-Ohio-7108, 821 N.E.2d 564, ¶ 6, citing Temple v. Wean United, Inc., 50 Ohio St.2d 317, 364 N.E.2d 267 (1977).

          {¶4} Plaintiff brings this action seeking to recover damages under a theory of false imprisonment, alleging that after he served out his prison term in 2015, defendant subjected him to post-release control and confined him for a post-release control violation without lawful authority to do so.

         {¶5} The facts of this case are not in dispute. On November 26, 2007, the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas sentenced plaintiff to a term of imprisonment and purported to impose mandatory post-release control for five years pursuant to R.C. 2967.28. (Defendant's Exhibit B). On February 28, 2008, the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas sentenced plaintiff to a term of imprisonment and purported to impose mandatory post release control of three years pursuant to R.C. 2967.28. (Defendant's Exhibit A). Plaintiff was admitted to prison on March 4, 2008, and he was released on May 17, 2015. (Affidavit of John Dong). After his release, plaintiff was placed on post-release control. Id.

         {¶6} On June 16, 2016, plaintiff was incarcerated based upon a hold order from the Adult Parole Authority. (Defendant's Exhibit C). Plaintiff was incarcerated until August 31, 2016. (Defendant's Exhibit D). Plaintiff filed motions in common pleas court to terminate his post-release control; the trial court denied those motions. (Defendant's Exhibit E). Plaintiff appealed those decisions, and the Eighth District Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the trial court, finding that the sentencing entries failed to set forth the consequences for violating the terms of his post-release control. Id. On November 14, 2017, plaintiff's post-release control was terminated. (Defendant's Exhibit F). Plaintiff filed this action in the Court of Claims on April 27, 2018.

         {¶7} Defendant argues that plaintiff's claim for false imprisonment is barred by the statute of limitations.

         {¶8} R.C. 2743.16(A) states:

         {¶9} "Subject to division (B) of this section, civil actions against the state permitted by sections 2743.01 to 2743.20 of the Revised Code shall be commenced no later than two years after the date of accrual of the cause of action or within any shorter period that is applicable to similar suits between private parties" (Emphasis added.) R.C. 2305.11 (A) provides, in part, that "[a]n action for * * * false imprisonment * * * shall be commenced within one year after the cause of action accrued."

         {¶10} Plaintiffs claim accrued upon his release from defendant's custody on August 31, 2016. Robinson v. Ohio Dept. of Rehab. & Corr ., 10th Dist. Franklin No. 10AP-550, 2011-Ohio-713, ¶ 14 (finding that appellant's claim for false imprisonment accrued at the very latest upon his last day of confinement in defendant's custody rather than when a court of common pleas later ordered that he be declassified as a tiered sex offender) citing Maxey v. Gather, 94 Ohio App. 115, 114 N.E.2d 607 (9th Dist.1952) (construing prior code provision and stating that the statute of limitations for false imprisonment expired one year after the plaintiff was released from prison); see Griffin v. Ohio Dept. of Rehab. & Corr ., 10th Dist. Franklin No. 10AP-733, 2011-Ohio-2115, ¶ 20 (finding that each day of confinement is a distinct trespass giving rise to a claim for false imprisonment). Plaintiff did not initiate this action until April 27, 2018-more than a year after he was released from defendant's custody on August 31, 2016. Thus, his claim is time-barred.

         {¶11} Even if plaintiff's claim is not time-barred, defendant argues that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law because plaintiff's confinement was at all times privileged in accordance with facially-valid sentencing entries. "False imprisonment occurs when a person confines another intentionally '"without lawful privilege and against his consent within a limited area for any appreciable time, however short."'" Bennett v. Ohio Dept. of Rehab. & Corr., 60 Ohio St.3d 107, 109, 573 N.E.2d 633 (1991), quoting Feliciano v. Kreiger,50 Ohio St.2d 69, 71, 362 N.E.2d 646 (1977), quoting 1 Harper & James, The Law of Torts, Section 3.7, 226 (1956). "Under the provisions of R.C. 2743.02(A)(1), 'the state may be held liable for the false imprisonment of its prisoners.'" Abercrombie v. Ohio Dept. of Rehab. & Corr., 10th Dist. Franklin No. 16AP-744, 2017-Ohio-5606, ¶ 9, quoting Bennett at paragraph two of the syllabus. "A plaintiff may not maintain an action against DRC for false imprisonment, however, when the imprisonment is in accordance with an order of a court, unless it appears that the order is void on its face." Fisk v. Ohio Dept. of Rehab. & Corr., 10th ...


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