Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Spak v. Phillips

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit

May 22, 2017

Paul Spak, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Shane Phillips, Defendant-Appellee.

          Argued: September 27, 2016

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut. No. 13 Civ. 1724 - Jeffrey A. Meyer, Judge.

         Plaintiff-appellant Paul Spak appeals a decision of the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut (Jeffrey A. Meyer, J.) granting summary judgment in favor of the defendant-appellee Shane Phillips, an officer with the Plainville Police Department in Plainville, Connecticut. In 2010, Spak was arrested by Phillips and charged under Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53a-155 with destroying evidence related to the alleged discharge of illegal fireworks. The prosecuting attorney subsequently dismissed those charges by entering a nolle prosequi. More than three years after the entry of the nolle, Spak brought suit against Phillips for malicious prosecution in violation of the Fourth Amendment, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The district court held that Spak's malicious prosecution claim accrued when the nolle prosequi was entered, and that as a result his suit was time-barred. On appeal, Spak contends that his claim did not accrue when the prosecuting attorney nolled his case, but thirteen months later when all public records of his prosecution were erased pursuant to a Connecticut recordkeeping statute. We conclude that Spak's claim accrued when the charges against him were nolled. We therefore AFFIRM the judgment of the district court.

          John R. Williams, John R. Williams and Associates, LLC, New Haven, CT, for Plaintiff- Appellant.

          James N. Tallberg (Dennis M. Durao, on the brief), Karsten & Tallberg, LLC, Rocky Hill, CT, for Defendant-Appellee.

          Before: Walker and Cabranes, Circuit Judges, and Berman, District Judge. [*]

          John M. Walker, Jr., Circuit Judge

         Plaintiff-appellant Paul Spak appeals a decision of the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut (Jeffrey A. Meyer, J.) granting summary judgment in favor of the defendant-appellee Shane Phillips, an officer with the Plainville Police Department in Plainville, Connecticut. In 2010, Spak was arrested by Phillips and charged under Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53a-155 with destroying evidence related to the alleged discharge of illegal fireworks. The prosecuting attorney subsequently dismissed those charges by entering a nolle prosequi. More than three years after the entry of the nolle, Spak brought suit against Phillips for malicious prosecution in violation of the Fourth Amendment, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The district court held that Spak's malicious prosecution claim accrued when the nolle prosequi was entered, and that as a result his suit was time-barred. On appeal, Spak contends that his claim did not accrue when the prosecuting attorney nolled his case, but thirteen months later when all public records of his prosecution were erased pursuant to a Connecticut recordkeeping statute. We conclude that Spak's claim accrued when the charges against him were nolled. We therefore AFFIRM the judgment of the district court.

         BACKGROUND

         The relevant facts in this appeal are not in dispute. On June 12, 2010, Phillips responded to a complaint of fireworks being discharged in Spak's neighborhood. When he arrived to investigate, he observed Spak burning the remnants of fireworks in a backyard fire pit, in what Phillips perceived as an attempt to destroy evidence. The following day, Phillips submitted a sworn affidavit to the Connecticut Superior Court seeking a warrant to arrest Spak on, inter alia, charges of tampering with or fabricating evidence. Based on Phillips' sworn statement, the Connecticut Superior Court issued a warrant for Spak's arrest on June 15, 2010, and based on that warrant Spak was arrested on June 24, 2010. On September 10, 2010, the prosecuting attorney unilaterally dismissed the charges against Spak by entering a nolle prosequi. A nolle prosequi is "a declaration of the prosecuting officer that he will not prosecute further at that time . . . Upon the entering of a nolle prosequi by the state's attorney, there is no case." State v. Winer, 286 Conn. 666, 685 (quoting State v. Ackerman, 27 Conn.Supp. 209, 211 (1967)). The state never instituted further charges against Spak subsequent to the nolle stemming from the June 12, 2010 incident.

         On October 29, 2013, Spak sued Phillips in Connecticut state court for malicious prosecution under Section 1983 and the Fourth Amendment. Phillips removed the action to the District of Connecticut on November 18, 2013. On January 30, 2015, Phillips moved for summary judgment on several grounds, including that Spak's action was untimely because he filed his complaint more than three years after the accrual of his claim. On October 14, 2015, the district court granted Phillips' motion for summary judgment on that ground. Specifically, the district court held that Spak's malicious prosecution claim accrued on September 10, 2010, when the charges against him were nolled, and therefore dismissed the suit as time-barred. Spak now appeals.

         DISCUSSION

         A district court's grant of summary judgment is reviewed de novo. Gallo v. Prudential Residential Servs., Ltd. Pʹship, 22 F.3d 1219, 1224 (2d Cir. 1994). All legal conclusions by a district court are reviewed de novo. United States v. Livecchi, 711 F.3d 345, 351 (2d Cir. 2013) (per curiam).

         On appeal, it is uncontested that Spak filed his complaint alleging malicious prosecution more than three years after the state's attorney's entry of a nolle prosequi. Spak concedes that if his claim for malicious prosecution accrued on the date that the state's attorney nolled the charges against him, his suit is untimely. However, he argues that his claim did not accrue on the date that the charges against him ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.