LOGAN v. WILKINS (July 8, 2011)
John Logan used to own a mobile home park in east-central Indiana. He claims that he no longer owns it as a result of the conduct of various local government officials and employees. Beginning in 2005, he says, these people started rumors that the health department was going to close the park, told the tenants to stop paying rent, obtained an order for the destruction of thirteen homes, hired an inept contractor who ended up destroying fourteen homes, and stole property. In September 2007, he lost the mobile home park to foreclosure. He also claims that the sheriff had someone order the tenants to vacate after the foreclosure. Logan brought suit in March of 2009 pursuant to §§ 1983 and 1981. Judge Lawrence (S.D. Ind.) dismissed the complaint. He found most of the allegations untimely under § 1983's two-year statute of limitations. The only claims within the two-year period related to the post-foreclosure conduct. Since Logan no longer own the property at that time, he had no claim. In an amended complaint, Logan alleged that the defendants concealed their conspiracy. The district court again dismissed. Logan appeals.
In their opinion, Chief Judge Easterbrook and Judges Manion and Williams affirmed. In Indiana, the statute of limitations for a § 1983 claim is two years and it runs from the time a plaintiff knew or should have known of a constitutional violation. A defendant may be estopped from asserting a statute of limitations defense if the defendant has concealed material facts from the plaintiff. Logan has not alleged any such facts on the part of the defendants. He simply claims that his attorney was prompted to investigate upon receiving some information at some point after the conduct occurred. But Logan and his attorney knew of the facts as they occurred and they could have investigated earlier. With respect to the post-foreclosure claims, the Court stated that Logan waived any argument by not addressing the claims in his opening brief. The Court added that no facts were alleged to support Logan's conspiracy theory. Finally, the Court declined Logan's request to remand for an opportunity to amend his complaint once again.