474 U.S. 1105 (1986)

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U.S. Supreme Court

PREUIT & MAULDIN v. JONES , 474 U.S. 1105 (1986)

474 U.S. 1105

Samuel JONES, Jr.
No. 85-794

Supreme Court of the United States

January 27, 1986

On petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied.

Justice WHITE, dissenting.

In Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S. 261 ( 1985), we held that an action under 42 U.S.C. 1983 should be considered a personal injury action for purposes of borrowing an appropriate state statute of limitations. The present case presents the question of what to

Page 474 U.S. 1105 , 1106

do when more than one state statute of limitations applies to personal injury actions.

Respondent in this case is an Alabama farmer who brought a 1983 action against petitioners for allegedly violating his Fourteenth Amendment due process rights by causing his equipment to be seized pursuant to prejudgment attachment writs that petitioners obtained without notice or a hearing. The only significant issue on appeal was the appropriate statute of limitations to borrow from the Alabama Code. 763 F.2d 1250 (CA11 1985). The Eleventh Circuit explained that its task of applying Wilson v. Garcia, supra, was complicated by the fact that Alabama has not one but two personal injury statutes of limitations. Alabama Code 6-2-34(1) (1975) governs actions for "any trespass to person or liberty, such as false imprisonment or assault and battery," and has been interpreted by the Alabama courts as applying to actions for trespass. Alabama Code 6-2-39(a)(5) (1975) governs "[a]ctions for any injury to the person or rights of another not arising from contract and not specifically enumerated in this section," and has been interpreted by the Alabama courts as applying to actions for trespass on the case. The Eleventh Circuit resolved its seeming dilemma in applying Wilson v. Garcia by reasoning that while not all 1983 actions involve trespass, trespass is "the particular type of wrong that was most paradigmatic, the one category of wrongs that the legislators [who enacted 1983] intended first and foremost to address." 763 F.2d, at 1255. Accordingly, the court held that the 6-year statute of limitations provided by 6-2-34(1), rather than the then 1-year statute of limitations provided by 6-2-39(a)( 5), should govern 1983 actions in Alabama. [Footnote 1]

The Eleventh Circuit's decision in this case conflicts with three en banc decisions by the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, all of which were companion cases to the decision we affirmed in Wilson v. Garcia, supra. In Hamilton v. City of Overland Park, Kansas, 730 F.2d 613, 614 (1984) (en banc), cert. denied, 471 U.S. 1052d 476 (1985), the Tenth Circuit rejected, for 1983 purposes, use of the 1-year Kansas statute of limitations governing " '[a]n action for assault, battery, malicious prosecution, or false imprisonment,' " and instead chose the 2-year limitations [474 U.S. 1105 , 1107]

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