FEDERAL CIVIL RIGHTS CASE SAVED BY EQUITABLE TOLLING AFTER CRIMINAL CONVICTION REVERSED
Equitable tolling applies to save a § 1983 case that was filed within one year of reversal of a conviction, and after Wallace v. Kato held that the cause of action accrues after reversal. The case was dead under Heck until reversal. Kucharski v. Leveille, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 89320 (E.D. Mich. December 5, 2007):
In Wallace v. Kato, 127 S. Ct. 1091, 166 L. Ed. 2d 973 (2007), the Supreme Court overruled all the precedents in the circuits applying Heck to bar section 1983 claims filed by persons with criminal charges pending in state court or deferring the accrual date of such claims. Heck only applies if the plaintiff has actually been convicted. The Court held that a section 1983 claim based on an illegal arrest accrues at the time of the arrest, not when the convictions were reversed by a state court, and Heck v. Humphrey does not require otherwise. Shamaeizadeh, plainly, was overruled.
There can be no question that the plaintiffs relied on Sixth Circuit precedent to their prejudice in this case. The untimeliness of the plaintiffs' complaint results from an understandable confusion about the state of the law as to when their claim accrued. That confusion was created by the courts themselves. The delay did not result from the plaintiffs' failure to diligently pursue the claim. In fact, the plaintiffs filed their complaint less than one year after their convictions were reversed.
Moreover, strict application of Wallace to this case effectively deprives the plaintiffs of their cause of action. If the plaintiffs had filed their case immediately after the search on May 4, 2001, Sixth Circuit precedent would have required dismissal of the case as barred by Heck. Once the law changed, the plaintiffs' convictions having been reversed on September 30, 2004, the plaintiffs would be barred by the statute of limitations under Wallace. This is "a result surely not intended." Wallace, 127 S. Ct. at 1099 n.4. Rather, this is the unusual case that fits neatly within the doctrine of equitable tolling.
The Court concludes that Michigan law tolled the three-year statute of limitations while the plaintiffs' convictions were still viable, and filing this case within three years of the reversal of those convictions does not result in a statute of limitations bar.
Accordingly, it is ORDERED that the plaintiffs' motion for reconsideration [dkt # 51] is GRANTED.