Sinas Dramis Law Firm > Personal Injury  > Police Misconduct Cases > The Parties and Statute of Limitations

The Parties and Statute of Limitations

Understanding who can file, who to file against and the statute of limitations for police misconduct cases is an important step in seeking justice for your injuries. While the attorneys of the Sinas Dramis Law Firm are available to assist you in making these decisions, the information below will give you an idea of what to expect.


The appropriate Plaintiff is any individual who has suffered a physical or emotional injury as the result of excessive force or brutality by a law enforcement official. Although the text of the statute seems to indicate that Section 1983 claims may only be brought by United States citizens, the United States Supreme Court has held that the statute’s language that any “other person within the jurisdiction thereof” may bring a claim broadens the scope of the statute to make viable the claims of both legal and illegal aliens. Graham v Richardson, 403 US 365, 375 (1971).

Pursuant to 42 USC §1988, wrongful death actions may be brought under state common-law and statutory regulation arising from the state in which the federal court with jurisdiction over the matter sits. This code section also governs the applicability of claims by family members, such as one for loss of consortium by a spouse. Thus, these state claims may be brought in conjunction with constitutional claims pursued under Section 1983.


Any law enforcement officer who causes an individual to suffer unreasonable physical or emotional harm may be named as a Defendant. Additionally, in many cases, the law enforcement agency or department that employs the Defendant may also be named.

Note, however, that pursuant to the Eleventh Amendment of the United States Constitution, the fifty states have absolute immunity from suit in federal court. Thus, if the action is against the state government specifically, a §1983 action is improper, and the claim should be brought in the subject state’s court of claims. This immunity does not extend to local governments or municipalities.

Statute of Limitations

There is no statute of limitations contained within the language of 42 USC §1983. The United States Supreme Court has directed that 42 USC §1988 “requires courts to borrow and apply to all §1983 claims the one most analogous state statute of limitations.” Owens v Okure, 488 US 235, 240 (1989). Thus, for tort-based actions brought in Michigan under §1983, the appropriate statute of limitations is 3 years, pursuant to MCL 600.5805(10).