United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Eastern Division
ORDER DISMISSING JOHN DOE DEFENDANTS
THOMAS ANDERSON, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
December 4, 2017, the Court ordered Plaintiff to show cause
why the claims against John Does 1 - 10 should not be
dismissed for failure to prosecute because the Doe Defendants
have not been identified or served with process.
(ECF No. 66.) After receiving an extension of time, Plaintiff
(now pro se) filed his response on February 5, 2018. (ECF No.
initial matter, the Court notes that Plaintiff has requested
that his former counsel “be allowed to continue on his
case.” (Id. at p. 3.) The Court previously
found good cause to grant counsel's motion to withdraw
because Plaintiff had filed a complaint with the Board of
Professional Responsibility against his attorneys. (ECF No.
65.) Plaintiff has presented no facts or arguments to
convince the Court that the decision granting the motion was
contends that his attorneys knew the names of the John Does
at the time that the complaint was filed but failed to name
them as defendants. Contradictorily, he also contends that
his attorneys should have obtained the names during
discovery. Absent extraordinary circumstances, which are not
present in this case, attorney error is not a sufficient
basis for “prolonging litigation against the original
adversary.” See e.g., U.S. v. 8135 Dobson
Street, Chicago, Ill., 125 F.3d 1076, 1084 (7th Cir.
1997) (“Malpractice, gross or otherwise, may be a good
reason to recover from the lawyer but does not justify
prolonging litigation against the original adversary.”)
Nor, generally, is it a sufficient basis for the equitable
tolling of the statute of limitations. See,
e.g., Jurado v. Burt, 337 F.3d 638, 644
(6th Cir. 2003) (“Generally, a lawyer's mistake is
not a valid basis for equitable tolling.”).
present case, it does not matter whether Plaintiff's
counsel knew the John Doe names when the complaint was filed
or failed to learn the names through discovery because, as
this Court previously ruled, the statute of limitations had
already run on Plaintiff's claims that his due process
rights were violated before and during his March 31, 2011,
parole violation hearing when he filed his complaint in this
Court. (Order, p. 10, ECF No. 46.) (“Therefore, the
statute of limitations for the present action began to run in
July 2011, when Plaintiff exhausted his administrative
remedies, and this action is barred by the statute of
limitations.”) Accordingly, to the extent that
Plaintiff alleges that the John Doe Defendants violated his
civil rights prior to March 6, 2016 (one year before the
complaint was filed), those claims are now barred.
response to the order to show cause, Plaintiff names the
State of Tennessee, the Department of Correction, City Court
Judge Blake Anderson, Assistant District Attorney Jody
Pickens, Jackson Police Department Detective Tyreece Miller,
Public Defender April Knight, and Board of Parole members who
are in charge of the warrant division and the handling of
parole records as the Doe Defendants. Plaintiff contends that
these defendants violated his rights by issuing the parole
warrant, intentionally filing a false report, and
intentionally destroying his parole file. The issuing of the
parole warrant and the alleged filing of a false report all
occurred before March 6, 2016. These actions were allegedly
taken by City Court Judge Anderson, Assistant District
Attorney Pickens, Detective Miller, Public Defender Knight,
and Board of Parole members who are in charge of the warrant
division. Thus, any claims against these individuals are
barred by the statute of limitations.
claims against the State of Tennessee and the Tennessee
Department of Correction are also barred by Eleventh
Amendment immunity. “The ultimate guarantee of the
Eleventh Amendment is that nonconsenting States may not be
sued by private individuals in federal court.” Bd.
of Trustees of Univ. of Alabama v. Garrett, 531 U.S.
356, 363 (2001). Eleventh Amendment immunity is a
jurisdictional bar, and, unless that immunity is expressly
waived, a state and its agencies may not be sued for damages
and injunctive relief in federal court. See Pennhurst
State Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100
(1984). Tennessee has not waived immunity in this action and
thus is not subject to suit. For the same reason, any suit
against the Tennessee Department of Correction is also
the claims against City Court Judge Anderson were not barred
by the statute of limitations, he is entitled to absolute
judicial immunity which protects judges from claims based on
“judicial act[s] taken within [the] court's
jurisdiction.” Cleavinger v. Saxner, 474 U.S.
193, 199 (1985). In this case, the signing of a warrant was a
Assistant District Attorney Pickens is immune from suit, even
if the claims against him were not time-barred. Claims
against a district attorney general in his individual
capacity for actions taken in his role as prosecutor fail
because he is entitled to prosecutorial immunity. Burns
v. Reed, 500 U.S. 478, 486 (1991)
the parole board members/employees who facilitated the
warrant for Plaintiff's parole revocation, this Court has
[a]bsolute immunity also extends “to certain others who
perform functions closely associated with the judicial
process, ” which is generally referred to as
quasi-judicial immunity. Quasi-judicial “immunity
extends to state parole officers performing functions that
are judicial in nature.” Jenkins v. Michigan
Department of Corrections, 2015 WL 5244420 at *3 (E.D.
Mich., Sept. 8, 2015). “[A] parole board is entitled to
absolute immunity for activities related to ‘the
execution of parole revocation procedures.'”
Wright v. McClain, 626 F.Supp. 1073, 1073 (W.D.
Tenn. 1986) (citation omitted).
p. 3 (footnote and some citations omitted), ECF No. 46.)
Thus, claims against these individuals are barred by both the
statute of limitations and quasi-judicial immunity.
the Court must consider whether Plaintiff's claims that
Board of Parole members allegedly destroyed files and records
prior to the second parole hearing on July 6, 2016, are
barred. Plaintiff has not advised the Court of these
individuals' names. As previously noted, the complaint
was filed on March 6, 2017. If these individuals had been
named in the complaint, the claims against them would not
have been time-barred for actions occurring after March 6,
2016. However, at this juncture, the alleged events occurred
more than twenty months ago, and the issue is whether
Plaintiff should be permitted to add still unnamed
individuals to his complaint.
naming of a John Doe defendant in a complaint does not stop
the statute of limitations from running or toll the
limitations period as to that defendant. Cross v. City
ofDetroit, 2008 WL 2858407 at *1 (E.D. Mich.
July 23, 2008) (citing Garvin v. City ofPhiladelphia, 354 F.3d 215, 220 (3rd Cir. 2003)
(dismissing the civil rights claim against a police officer
who the plaintiff had named as John Doe because the plaintiff
“did not seek leave to amend the Complaint to name the
John Doe defendant prior to the expiration of the statute of
limitations”); see also Smith v. City of
Akron, 476 Fed.Appx. 67, 69 (6th Cir. 2012) (holding
that Rule 15(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
offers no remedy when a plaintiff “simply did not know
whom to sue or opted not to find out within the limitations