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Former university soccer coach’s lawsuit after charges dropped fails

November 4, 2013

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the lower court Monday that a lawsuit brought by a former soccer coach at Oakland City University against an arresting officer should be dismissed for being time-barred. Christian Serino alleged his constitutional rights were violated and multiple state-law torts were committed after trespass and resisting law enforcement charges against him were dropped.

Serino was arrested by Oakland City Chief of Police Alec Hensley in September 2008 after Serino was told by the university that he was suspended. The charges were eventually dismissed. Serino filed his lawsuit in March 2012 alleging false arrest and malicious prosecution in violation of the U.S. Constitution. He also included Indiana tort claims for false arrest, malicious prosecution and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The District Court granted Hensley’s and the police department’s motion to dismiss, finding his claims to be time-barred or barred under the Indiana Tort Claims Act. The 7th Circuit affirmed in Christian Serino v. Alec Hensley and City of Oakland City, Indiana, 13-1058. Federal and state law requires Serino to have brought his claims for false arrest by Sept. 15, 2010, two years after his arraignment. Thus, these claims are untimely.

The judges agreed with the District Court that Serino did not present a cognizable Section 1983 claim for malicious prosecution, but for different reasons. The District Court dismissed on the ground that Indiana already provides a remedy for Serino’s harm; but his claim failed before the 7th Circuit because he did not state a constitutional violation independent of the alleged wrongful arrest, Judge Joel Flaum wrote.

The judges also upheld the finding that the state-law malicious prosecution and intentional infliction of emotional distress claims should be dismissed on grounds of Hensley’s immunity under the Indiana Tort Claims Act.
 

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