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Statute of Limitations Kills Oregon False Imprisonment Suit

The Oregon Court of Appeals affirmed the statute of limitations dismissal of a former prisoner's false imprisonment suit.

In three separate judgments, Loren MacNab was convicted of four counts of failing to register as a sex offender and sentenced to jail time on each conviction. MacNab appealed and each sentence was stayed pending resolution of the appeal, under ORS 138.135(1).

In August 2002, MacNab was convicted in a fourth case of failing to register. The Oregon Supreme Court also affirmed his earlier convictions that month, in State v. MacNab, 334 Or 469, 51 P.3d 1249 (2002).

In October 2002, the trial court lifted the stays and ordered "sentence to be executed immediately." It imposed all four sentences consecutively and MacNab was released from custody in October 2003.

MacNab appealed the fourth conviction and, in May 2005, the court granted the parties' joint motion to vacate and remand for reconsideration. MacNab was then reconvicted and appealed again. He finally won that appeal because the state failed to prove venue. State v. MacNab, 222 Or.App 332, 194 P.3d 164 (2008).

In December 2009, MacNab filed a pro se false imprisonment suit in state court, alleging that he was unlawfully imprisoned on the fourth case. Specifically, MacNab argued that the State violated ORS 138.135(1) by failing to stay his fourth sentence pending resolution of his appeal. Had the stay been granted, MacNab alleged, "[n]o period of confinement would have been served."

The trial court granted Defendants' motion to dismiss the action as barred by the statute of limitations, rejecting MacNab's argument that the claim did not accrue until he won his appeal in 2008. Rather, the court concluded that MacNab's claim accrued when MacNab appealed the remand judgment in 2005.

The Oregon Court of Appeals affirmed, noting that MacNab did not contend that his imprisonment was unlawful because he was not guilty, but rather, he "alleged in his complaint that ORS 138.135(1) required the court to stay his sentence pending appeal."

Without deciding the legal correctness of MacNab's argument, the court found that he knew all the facts necessary to prove that theory of liability in 2005. "The entire period of confinement occurred more than six years before the filing of the complaint — well outside of the two-year statute of limitations," the court concluded. Therefore, "the trial court did not err in dismissing plaintiffs claim." See: MacNab v. State, 253 Or.App. 511, 291 P.3d 758 (Or. App. 2012).

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Related legal case

MacNab v. State