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Eric Stormo v. City of Sioux Falls

November 21, 2012

ERIC STORMO
PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITY OF SIOUX FALLS; R. SHAWN TORNOW; DAVE MUNSON; MIKE HUETHER; PAT KNEIP; DOUG BARTHEL; AND JOHN DOE, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Karen E. Schreier Chief Judge

ORDER

Defendants, City of Sioux Falls, R. Shawn Tornow, Dave Munson, Mike Huether, Pat Kneip, Doug Barthel, and John Doe, moved to dismiss this action alleging that Stormo's claims are barred by the applicable statutes of limitation and because Stormo failed to give the public entity statutory notice of his injuries. Docket 16. Plaintiff, Eric Stormo, resisted that motion and responded by filing an affidavit that included matters outside of the pleadings. Docket 18 & 19. The court converted the motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment. Docket 20. Stormo now resists defendants' motion for summary judgment. Stormo also moves to amend his complaint. Docket 26. For the following reasons, defendants' motion for summary judgment is granted in part and denied in part. Stormo's motion to amend his complaint is granted.

BACKGROUND

The undisputed material facts pertinent to this cause of action, viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, Stormo, are as follows:

Defendants are current or past employees, agents, or elected officials of the City of Sioux Falls who are being sued by Stormo in their official and individual capacities. Stormo is an individual who alleges that defendants engaged in a pattern or practice of federal civil rights violations from 2005 up to the present that relate to his status as a landowner and landlord. Stormo also sues defendants for a number of state-law tort claims.

Stormo filed this cause of action on April 2, 2012, which is the same date that defendants admitted service of process. Docket 1. On April 13, 2012, defendants moved to dismiss this cause of action, claiming that Stormo failed to provide defendants, as a public entity, notice of his harms and that his claims are barred by the applicable statutes of limitations. Docket 16. Stormo opposed that motion. Docket 18. The court converted the motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment because Stormo included matters outside of the pleadings in his response. Docket 20. On October 11, 2012, Stormo moved to amend his complaint. Docket 26. Defendants did not respond.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

"One of the principal purposes of the summary judgment rule is to isolate and dispose of factually unsupported claims or defenses[.]" Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986). Summary judgment is proper "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a); see also Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 323 ("[A] party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility of . . . demonstrat[ing] the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." (internal quotations omitted)). The moving party must inform the court of the basis for its motion and also identify the portion of the record that shows that there is no genuine issue in dispute. Hartnagel v. Norman, 953 F.2d 394, 395 (8th Cir. 1992) (citation omitted).

Once the moving party has met its initial burden, the nonmoving party must establish "that a fact . . . is genuinely disputed" either "by citing to particular parts of materials in the record," or by "showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence . . . of a genuine dispute." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). "The nonmoving party may not 'rest on mere allegations or denials, but must demonstrate on the record the existence of specific facts which create a genuine issue for trial.' " Mosley v. City of Northwoods, Mo., 415 F.3d 908, 910 (8th Cir. 2005) (quoting Krenik v. Cnty. of Le Sueur, 47 F.3d 953, 957 (8th Cir. 1995)). For purposes of summary judgment, the facts, and inferences drawn from those facts, are "viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (quoting United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962)).

DISCUSSION

I. Statute of Limitations

A. Federal Civil Rights Claims

Defendants argue that Stormo's claims are barred because he failed to bring his claims within the three-year statute of limitations in South Dakota for an alleged deprivation of a constitutional right. Stormo claims that at least one of the alleged constitutional violations, an unlawful seizure of property, took place within three years of the commencement of this cause of action. Stormo also argues that the statutes of limitations on his claims have either not yet started or that a four-year statute of limitations applies.

Because 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 does not contain a specific statute of limitations, the United States Supreme Court has instructed courts to apply the analogous state statute of limitations. Bell v. Fowler, 99 F.3d 262, 265-66 (8th Cir. 1996) (citing Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S. 261, 266-68 (1985)). Under South Dakota law, "[f]ederal civil rights actions must be brought within three years after the alleged ...


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