Jeffers v. Ortega, et al

Filing 150

ORDER granting 86 Motion to Dismiss Case. Defendant Lizaragga's motion to dismiss the amended complaint [Docket No. 86] is granted. Plaintiff's amended complaint is hereby dismissed with prejudice. Signed by Judge Mary H Murguia on 08/23/06. (KCS)

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Jeffers v. Ortega, et al Doc. 150 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 WO IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF ARIZONA JAY JEFFERS, JR., ) ) Plaintiff, ) ) v. ) ) JOSEPH ORTEGA, REBECCA ) SPURLOCK, CORPORAL WILLIAMS, ) DR. LIZARRAGA, ) ) Defendants. ) ____________________________ ) CIV 04-0572 PHX MHM (LOA) ORDER Before the Court is Defendant Lizarraga's motion to dismiss Plaintiff's amended complaint [Docket No. 86] pursuant to Rule 12(c), Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. I Procedural History Plaintiff was incarcerated at the Pinal County Jail from December 16, 2000, through April 2, 2001. On March 22, 2004, Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, filed a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging violations of his constitutional rights. they On September 3, 2004, the Court ordered Defendants deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's serious Ortega, Williams, and Spurlock to answer the allegation that were medical needs in violation of Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights. See Docket No. 9. Case 2:04-cv-00572-MHM-LOA Document 150 Filed 08/24/2006 Page 1 of 7 Dockets.Justia.com 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 1 Plaintiff filed a motion to amend his complaint to add Dr. Lizarraga as a defendant in this matter on March 29, 2005, and another motion to amend his complaint on May 4, 2005. Docket No. 23 & Docket No. 39. 2005. See Pursuant to an order of the Court, Plaintiff lodged a proposed amended complaint on June 3, On June 9, 2005, the Court ordered Plaintiff to serve the See Docket On amended complaint on Defendants Williams and Ortega, and to serve the amended complaint on Defendant Lizarraga. No. 44. amended complaint on August 1, 2005. amended complaint. amended complaint asserts within See Docket No. 75. on October 11, 2005. Docket him No. must 86. be Defendants Ortega, Williams, and Spurlock answered the See Docket No. 49. September 20, 2005, Defendant Lizarraga filed an answer to the Defendant Lizarraga filed a motion to dismiss the Defendant complaint Plaintiff's the claims against of dismissed because Plaintiff did not file his section 1983 applicable statute limitations. Plaintiff filed a response to the motion on December 23, 2005. Docket No. 115 & Docket No. 116.1 Defendant filed a reply to the response on January 26, 2006. II DISCUSSION A. Standard for granting a motion to dismiss In reviewing the defendants' motions under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c), the district court views the facts as presented in the pleadings in the light most favorable to the plaintiffs, accepting as true all the Defendants Ortega, Williams, and Spurlock filed a motion for partial summary judgment on December 16, 2005. See Docket No. 109. -2- See Docket No. 126. Case 2:04-cv-00572-MHM-LOA Document 150 Filed 08/24/2006 Page 2 of 7 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 allegations in their complaint and treating as false those allegations in the answer that contradict the plaintiffs' allegations. Hoeft v. Tucson Unified Sch. Dist., 967 F.2d 1298, 1301 (9th Cir. 1992). See also Hal Roach Studios v. Richard Feiner & Co., 896 F.2d 1542, 1550 (9th Cir. 1990) ("[T]he allegations of the non-moving party must be accepted as true, while the allegations of the moving party which have been denied are assumed to be false."); Patel v. Contemporary Classics of Beverly Hills, 259 F.3d 123, 126 (2d Cir. 2001) ("The standard for granting a Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings is identical to that of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion for failure to state a claim."); Pooley v. National Hole-In-One Assoc., 89 F. Supp. 2d 1108, 1109 (D. Ariz. 2000). Judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c), Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, may be granted when the pleadings indicate that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claims which would entitle him to relief. F.3d 526, 528 (9th Cir. 1997). See Enron Oil Training & Transp. Co. v. Welbrook Ins. Co., Ltd., 132 When deciding a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the Court must take the factual allegations of the complaint as true and construe them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. F.3d 1136, See Galbraith v. County of Santa Clara, 307 F.3d 1140 (9th Cir. 1996). Additionally, pro se 1119, 1121 (9th Cir. 2002); Epstein v. Washington Energy Co., 83 complaints are held to a less strict standard than those drafted by counsel. See Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106, 97 S. Ct. -3- Case 2:04-cv-00572-MHM-LOA Document 150 Filed 08/24/2006 Page 3 of 7 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 285, 292 (1976). It is not appropriate to dismiss a pro se prisoner's civil rights action unless it is "beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." 2. Statute of limitations Lizarraga asserts Plaintiff's Eighth Defendant Id. Amendment claim against him must be dismissed because Plaintiff did not file his complaint within the two-year statute of limitations applicable to section 1983 actions filed by Arizona inmates. The federal courts apply state statutes of limitation to claims brought by prisoners pursuant to section 1983. (1985). years. See Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S. 261, 276, 105 S. Ct. 1938, 1947 In Arizona, the relevant statute of limitations is two See, e.g., DeLuna v. Farris, 841 F.2d 312, 313 (9th Cir. "federal state courts of must apply not but only also the the 1988); Marks v. Parra, 785 F.2d 1419, 1420 (9th Cir. 1986). Additionally, appropriate statute limitations, applicable state rule for tolling that statute of limitations for actions brought under 1983." DeLuna, 841 F.2d at 314. The tolling provisions for prisoners civil rights suits in Arizona are contained in Arizona Revised Statutes 12-502. Pursuant to this statute, imprisonment tolls the applicable statute of limitations until the date the prisoner discovers, or with reasonable diligence should have discovered, his right to sue the defendant. Id. at 315. -4- Case 2:04-cv-00572-MHM-LOA Document 150 Filed 08/24/2006 Page 4 of 7 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 However, when a section 1983 claim accrues and the relevant statute of limitations begins to run against the claimant is determined according to federal law. City, 25 F.3d 800, 802 (9th Cir. 1994). See Wilson, 471 U.S. at 275, 105 S. Ct. at 1946-47; Elliott v. City of Union Within the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the statute of limitations in a section 1983 action begins to run when the plaintiff knows, or has reason to know, that he has been injured. See Kimes v. Stone, 84 F.3d 1121, 1128 (9th Cir. 1996) ("A claim accrues when the plaintiff knows, or should know, of the injury which is the basis of the cause of action."). The discovery rule provides a claim accrues when the plaintiff knows, or should know, of the injury which is the basis of the cause of action. The cause is known when the immediate physical cause of the injury is discovered... The Ninth Circuit has stated repeatedly the plaintiff need not also know the identity of the person who caused the injury. Thus, the statute of limitations begins to run as soon as the plaintiff knows he or she has been injured and knows the physical cause of that injury. Clavette v. Sweeney, 132 F. Supp. 2d 864, 874-75 (D. Or. 2001) (internal citations and quotations omitted). Plaintiff's needs from December section 16, 1983 action asserts April 2, Defendant 2001, in Lizarraga was deliberately indifferent to his serious medical 2000, through violation of his Eighth Amendment rights. limitations. The section 1983 action was not filed within the applicable two-year statute of Plaintiff's claim accrued no later than April 2, 2001, and Plaintiff's complaint was not filed until March of -5- Case 2:04-cv-00572-MHM-LOA Document 150 Filed 08/24/2006 Page 5 of 7 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 2004, almost three years later. See Fink v. Shedler, 192 F.3d 911, 914-15 (9th Cir. 1999); TwoRivers v. Lewis, 174 F.3d 987, 993 (9th Cir. 1999); DeLuna, 841 F.2d at 314-15; Nasim v. Warden, Maryland House of Corr., 64 F.3d 951, 955 (4th Cir. 1995) ("Thus, for purposes of a 1983 claim, a cause of action accrues either when the plaintiff has knowledge of his claim or when he is put on notice--e.g., by the knowledge of the fact of injury and who caused it--to make reasonable inquiry and that inquiry would reveal the existence of a colorable claim."). Plaintiff asserts in response to the motion to dismiss: "The Federal courts should not determine the length of time in which a Plaintiff has to bring a civil action based on the states limitation time length law." further contends: The Federal courts further should base their limitation on the nature of the repeated claims that are brought against them ... Plaintiff filed befor[e] the 3 years limitation law ended, in which I was told that any person seeking to file a lawsuit must file it within 3 years after any incident happens. Id. at 2. untimely Plaintiff further contends that his complaint is not with regard to Defendants Id. have known of Defendant Williams, Ortega, and Docket No. 114. Plaintiff Spurlock, asserting that his damages with regard to these Defendants continues to "accrue." Plaintiff knew or should Lizarraga's involvement in the alleged civil rights violation on or before April of 2001 and, therefore, the two-year statute of limitations regarding the civil rights violation stated in his -6- Case 2:04-cv-00572-MHM-LOA Document 150 Filed 08/24/2006 Page 6 of 7 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 section 1983 action filed in March of 2004 expired prior to his bringing suit. Therefore, the section 1983 claims as against Defendant Lizarraga must be dismissed with prejudice. THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED that Defendant Lizaragga's motion to dismiss the amended complaint [Docket No. 86] is granted. Plaintiff's amended complaint is DATED this 23rd day of August, 2006. hereby dismissed with prejudice. -7- Case 2:04-cv-00572-MHM-LOA Document 150 Filed 08/24/2006 Page 7 of 7

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