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Wrongfully convicted man can pursue IIED claim

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A man wrongfully convicted of attempted murder can go forward with his intentional infliction of emotional distress claim against the City of Elkhart and several police officers, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today.

After serving eight years of a 30-year sentence for attempted murder, the charge against Christopher Parish was dropped and he was freed from prison in 2006. Evidence came out that the shooting didn’t happen where originally stated and police coerced several witnesses into identifying Parish as the shooter. At his trial, Parish introduced evidence he was out-of-state at the time of the shooting.

Parish and family members sued Elkhart and three former city police officers. The only claim at issue in Christopher Parish, et al. v. City of Elkhart, et al., No. 09-2056, is Parish’s state claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress. The 7th Circuit affirmed the dismissal of his state false arrest and false imprisonment claims due to being time-barred based on Parish’s concession at oral argument.

The issue on appeal is whether the IIED claim is time-barred; the District Court ruled that it was, and dismissed the claim. The state claims must be brought within two years of the date on which the action accrued. He filed his suit within two years of his exoneration.

The Circuit Court used four cases to guide its decision to reverse the dismissal of Parish’s IIED claim: Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384 (2007), Scruggs v. Allen County/City of Fort Wayne, 829 N.E.2d 1049 (Ind. Ct. App. 2005), and Johnson v. Blackwell, 885 N.E.2d 25 (Ind. Ct. App. 2008).

“If the claims would not directly implicate the validity of the conviction, the court should follow the standard discovery rule applied in Indiana: The claim accrues at the time the individual knew or should have known of the tort,” wrote Judge Joel Flaum. “If the claim would directly implicate the validity of the conviction, then Heck and Scruggs come into play and the claim does not accrue until the conviction has been disposed of in a manner favorable to the plaintiff.”

In Parish’s case, it’s clear that this claim wasn’t completed prior to the conviction based on the actions of the officers. They took steps through all stages of the investigation and trial that cumulatively amounted to the tort of IIED, the judge wrote. And, the conviction was an essential piece of the tort because it was the wrongful conviction that led to the emotional strain and mental anguish Parish faced.

Under Indiana’s adoption of Heck, Parish couldn’t have brought this claim until his conviction was disposed of in a manner favorable to him, and he did so within the statute of limitations, the court ruled.

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  1. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  2. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

  3. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

  4. Mazel Tov to the newlyweds. And to those bakers, photographers, printers, clerks, judges and others who will lose careers and social standing for not saluting the New World (Dis)Order, we can all direct our Two Minutes of Hate as Big Brother asks of us. Progress! Onward!

  5. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

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