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Villalona v. Holiday Inn Express & Suites

United States District Court, S.D. Florida, Miami Division

August 23, 2019

STEVEN VILLALONA, Plaintiff,
v.
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS & SUITES, SCOTT T. AMBROSE, PAUL CONDOLEO, JOSEPH DAMIANO, DONALD HARRIS, JASON HENDRICK, RYAN HYATT, GREGORY LACERRA, et. al, Defendants.

          ORDER ADOPTING MAGISTRATE JUDGE REID'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION AND ORDER DISMISSING THE COMPLAINT AS BARRED BY THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

          FEDERICO A. MORENO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         THE MATTER was referred to the Honorable Lisette M. Reid, United States Magistrate Judge, for a Report and Recommendation on Plaintiff Steven Villalona's Complaint Under the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985, 1986, filed on April 1, 2019. Magistrate Judge Reid issued a Report and Recommendation (D.E. 7) on June 28, 2019.

         THE COURT having reviewed the entire file and record, has made a de novo review of the issues raised by Villalona's Objections (D.E. 8) to the Report and Recommendation, and being otherwise fully advised in the premises, it is

         ADJUDGED that Magistrate Judge Reid's Report and Recommendation is AFFIRMED and ADOPTED. It is further

         ADJUDGED that Villalona's Complaint is DISMISSED as barred by the statute of limitations.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On April 1, 2019, Villalona filed a Complaint under 42 U.S.C. Sections 1983, 1985, and 1986 seeking nominal, compensatory, and punitive damages against several defendants for alleged violations of his right under the Fourth Amendment to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. (See D.E. 1 at 1-5.)

         On June 28, 2019, Magistrate Judge Reid screened Villalona's in forma pauperis Complaint for frivolousness pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Section 1915A, and issued a Report and Recommendation recommending that the undersigned[1] dismiss the Complaint on grounds that the illegal search claims asserted by Villalona are barred by the statute of limitations. Specifically, the Report and Recommendation found that the four-year statute of limitations on Villalona's illegal search claims expired in September 2015 because, based on the Complaint's allegations, the allegedly illegal search occurred in September 2011. Thus, Magistrate Judge Reid concluded that the claims in the Complaint (filed April 1, 2019) are barred by the statute of limitations. (See D.E. 7 at 2-4.)

         On July 9, 2019, Villalona filed his Objections to the Report and Recommendation. In his Objections, Villalona concedes that Magistrate Judge Reid correctly found that the alleged unconstitutional acts occurred on September 21, 2011 and that his illegal search claims are governed by a four-year statute of limitations under Florida law. (D.E. 8 at 1.) Given these concessions, Villalona makes clear that his Objections are more nuanced. He argues that Magistrate Judge Reid incorrectly calculated the four-year limitations period and "overlooked" the point in time when his claims actually "accrued." Id. at 1-2. Relying on an exhibit attached to his Objections, Villalona asserts for the first time that his illegal search claims actually accrued on April 29, 2015-the day the Circuit Court of the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit in Broward County issued an order granting him access to seven discs of audio/visual recordings related to the investigation underlying the allegedly illegal search at issue. See Id. at 2, 4-5. Villalona asserts that he first learned of his injury from these audio/visual recordings. This, is Villalona's sole objection to the Report and Recommendation.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Villalona commenced his Section 1983 action without paying the required filing fee and thus his Complaint is subject to screening for frivolousness pursuant to Section 1915A.[2] Under this Section, the Court may dismiss an in forma pauperis complaint that is "frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1). The Eleventh Circuit has ruled that a claim can be dismissed as frivolous if the applicable statute of limitations expires. Borda v. Chase, 630 Fed.Appx. 889, 890 (11th Cir. 2015) (citing Clark v. Ga. Pardons & Paroles Bd, 915 F.2d 636, 640 n.2 (11th Cir. 1990)). In addition to frivolousness, a Section 1983 claim that is barred by the applicable statute of limitations can be dismissed as failing to state a claim. Sensi v. Fla. Officers of Court, 737 Fed.Appx. 433, 437 (11th Cir. 2018) (citing Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 215 (2007)).

         III. DISCUSSION

         In short, the Court finds the following: first, it is apparent from the face of Villalona's Complaint that his illegal search claims are time barred by the applicable statute of limitations and therefore the Complaint should be dismissed; and second, Villalona's objection that his claims accrued in April 2015-when he first learned of audio/visual recordings held by law enforcement relating to the investigation ...


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