Shehee v. Cosby et al

Filing 38

FINDINGS and RECOMMENDATIONS recommending that 17 Defendants' Motion to Dismiss the Action as Barred by the Statute of Limitations be GRANTED and the Instant Action be DISMISSED re 8 Second Amended Prisoner Civil Rights Complaint, signed by Magistrate Judge Stanley A. Boone on 1/13/2017. Referred to Judge Drozd. Objections to F&R due within thirty (30) days. (Jessen, A)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 12 13 14 15 ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) GREGORY ELL SHEHEE, Plaintiff, v. COSBY, et al., Defendants. 16 17 18 19 20 Case No.: 1:16-cv-00354-DAD-SAB (PC) FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS RECOMMENDING DEFENDANTS’ MOTION TO DISMISS THE COMPLAINT AS BARRED BY THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS BE GRANTED [ECF No. 17] Plaintiff Gregory Ell Shehee is appearing pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. At the time the case was filed, Plaintiff was a civil detainee. Currently before the Court is Defendants’ motion to dismiss the complaint as barred by the statute of limitations, filed August 4, 2016. 21 I. 22 RELEVANT HISTORY 23 On March 10, 2016, the Court severed Plaintiff’s claim of excessive force against Defendants 24 Cosby and S. Valley arising from an incident that took place on January 16, 2009, from his claims 25 against Defendants Redding and Blanco in case number 1:14-cv-00706-DAD-SAB (PC), Gregory Ell 26 Shehee v. K. Trumbly, (ECF No. 4.) 27 28 Thus, this action is proceeding on Plaintiff’s claim excessive force against Defendants Cosby and S. Valley arising from an incident that took place on January 16, 2009. 1 As previously stated, on August 4, 2016, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss the complaint as 1 2 barred by the statute of limitations. (ECF No. 17.) Plaintiff filed an opposition on August 18, 2016, 3 and Defendants filed a reply on September 2, 2016. (ECF Nos. 19, 21.) Accordingly, the motion to 4 dismiss is deemed submitted for review without oral argument. Local Rule 230(l). 5 II. 6 LEGAL STANDARD 7 A motion to dismiss brought pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of a claim, 8 and dismissal is proper if there is a lack of a cognizable legal theory or the absence of sufficient facts 9 alleged under a cognizable legal theory. Conservation Force v. Salazar, 646 F.3d 1240, 1241-42 (9th 10 Cir. 2011) (quotation marks and citations omitted). In resolving a 12(b)(6) motion, a court’s review is 11 generally limited to the operative pleading. Daniels-Hall v. National Educ. Ass’n, 629 F.3d 992, 998 12 (9th Cir. 2010); Sanders v. Brown, 504 F.3d 903, 910 (9th Cir. 2007); Schneider v. California Dept. of 13 Corr., 151 F.3d 1194, 1197 n.1 (9th Cir. 1998). 14 To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as 15 true, to state a claim that is plausible on its face. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing 16 Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)) (quotation marks omitted); Conservation 17 Force, 646 F.3d at 1242; Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The Court 18 must accept the factual allegations as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non- 19 moving party, Daniels-Hall, 629 F.3d at 998; Sanders, 504 F.3d at 910; Morales v. City of Los 20 Angeles, 214 F.3d 1151, 1153 (9th Cir. 2000), and in this Circuit, pro se litigants are entitled to have 21 their pleadings liberally construed and to have any doubt resolved in their favor, Wilhelm v. Rotman, 22 680 F.3d 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2012); Watison v. Carter, 668 F.3d 1108, 1112 (9th Cir. 2012); Silva v. 23 Di Vittorio, 658 F.3d 1090, 1101 (9th Cir. 2011); Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010). 24 /// 25 /// 26 /// 27 /// 28 /// 2 1 III. 2 DISCUSSION Summary of Plaintiff’s Second Amended Complaint 3 A. 4 Plaintiff is presently confined at the Fresno County Jail. However, the incidents described in 5 the complaint occurred while Plaintiff was a patient (civil detainee) at Coalinga State Hospital, a 6 facility of the State of California’s Department of State Hospitals. 7 On January 16, 2009, Defendant Cosby and several other officers used excessive force on 8 Plaintiff despite the fact that Plaintiff was not involved in a fight involving two other individuals. 9 Plaintiff contends specifically that Psych Tech Ryan Homel stated loudly that Plaintiff was not 10 involved, he just had eye surgery. Despite this, Defendant Cosby and fourteen other officers pulled 11 Plaintiff to the ground in a chock hold. Defendant Cosby deliberately put his knee in Plaintiff’s spine 12 as Plaintiff was already on the ground. Plaintiff felt the pop crusting of his spine. Psych Tech Ryan 13 was calling for the officers to stop, but Defendant Cosby put both his hands around his head and neck. 14 Plaintiff claims on this same date, Defendant S. Valley, Psych Tech, failed to protect and 15 intervene during the assault of Plaintiff by Defendant Cosby. Plaintiff contends that Defendant Valley 16 stood in the medication room and witnessed the assault by Defendant Cosby and the other officers. 17 B. Statute of Limitations 18 Federal law determines when a claim accrues, and “[u]nder federal law, a claim accrues when 19 the plaintiff knows or should know of the injury that is the basis of the cause of action.” Douglas v. 20 Noelle, 567 F.3d 1103, 1109 (9th Cir. 2009) (citation omitted); Maldonado v. Harris, 370 F.3d 945, 21 955 (9th Cir. 2004); Fink v. Shedler, 192 F.3d 911, 914 (9th Cir. 1999). Because section 1983 22 contains no specific statute of limitations, federal courts should apply the forum state’s statute of 23 limitations for personal injury actions. 24 Maldonado, 370 F.3d at 954; Fink, 192 F.3d at 914. California=s statute of limitations for personal 25 injury actions was extended to two years effective January 1, 2003. Cal. Civ. Proc. Code ' 335.1; 26 Jones, 393 F.3d at 927; Maldonado, 370 F.3d at 954-55. Jones v. Blanas, 393 F.3d 918, 927 (9th Cir. 2004); 27 In actions where the federal court borrows the state statute of limitations, courts should also 28 borrow all applicable provisions for tolling the limitations period found in state law. Jones, 393 F.3d 3 1 at 927. California’s equitable tolling statute applies to both prisoners and civil detainees. Id. Section 2 352.1 of the California Code of Civil procedure allows for the tolling of the statute of limitations 3 during a period of “disability” while the plaintiff is in state prison, and the tolling may not exceed two 4 years. Accordingly, the statute of limitations in this case would be tolled for no more than two years. 5 Moreno v. Thomas, 490 F.Supp.2d 1055, 1061 (C.D. Cal. 2007). 6 provision, “the term ‘insane’ has been defined as a condition of mental derangement which renders the 7 sufferer incapable of caring for his property or transacting business, or understanding the nature or 8 effects of his acts.” Hsu v. Mt. Zion Hospital, 259 Cal.App.2d 562, 571 (1968). 9 For purposes of the tolling Here, Plaintiff’s complaint raises allegations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 that Defendants’ violated 10 his Fourteenth Amendment rights by failing to protect him from excessive and, with regard to 11 Defendant Cosby, subjecting him to the use of excessive force. Plaintiff alleges that the events giving 12 rise to his claim took place on January 16, 2009. (ECF No. 8, at 8.) However, as previously 13 mentioned, Plaintiff’s complaint was originally filed on May 12, 2014, in case number 1:14-cv-00706 14 (prior to severance of moving defendants in this action). (ECF No. 1.) 15 As Plaintiff’s complaint was filed on May 12, 2014, and the allegations in the complaint 16 accrued on January 16, 2009, Plaintiff’s complaint filed approximately 5 years and 4 months 17 thereafter, is barred by the applicable statute of limitations, even as extended by California’s equitable 18 tolling statute. 19 In opposition, Plaintiff contends that in 2011 through 2014, he was declared incompetent 20 and/or undergoing incompetency proceedings in the Fresno County Superior Court which entitles him 21 to equitable tolling. (Opp’n at 5-6; ECF No. 19.) Plaintiff is incorrect. Plaintiff’s “insanity” and/or 22 “incompetency” must exist at the time the claim accrues to toll the limitations period. Cal. Code Civ. 23 Proc. § 357 (“Disability must exist when right of action accrued. No person can avail himself of a 24 disability, unless it existed when his right of action accrued”). Thus, once the cause of action has 25 accrued and the statute of limitations has begun to run, no later disability can suspend it. Larsson v. 26 Cedars of Lebanon Hosp., 97 Cal.App.2d 704, 707 (1950); see also Singer v. Paul Revere Life Ins. 27 Co., No. CV 14-08700 MMM (MRWx), 2015 WL 3970284, at *4 (C.D. Cal.); Calloway v. Scribner, 28 No. 1:11-cv-00803 DLB PC, 2014 WL 6819872, at *3 (E.D. Cal.). Here, Plaintiff’s cause of action 4 1 clearly accrued on January 16, 2009, the date he was subjected to the alleged excessive force by 2 Defendant Cosby for which Defendant Valley failed to intervene. Plaintiff’s alleged 3 incompetency/insanity proceedings occurred two years after his claims against Defendants Cosby and 4 Valley accrued. Therefore, Plaintiff’s alleged incompetency/insanity did not toll the limitations 5 period, and Defendants’ motion to dismiss the action as barred by the statute of limitations should be 6 granted. 7 IV. 8 RECOMMENDATIONS Based on the foregoing, it is HEREBY RECOMMENDED that: 9 1. 10 Defendants’ motion to dismiss the action as barred by the statute of limitations be granted; and 11 12 2. The instant action be dismissed. 13 These Findings and Recommendation will be submitted to the United States District Judge 14 assigned to the case, pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(l). Within thirty (30) days after 15 being served with these Findings and Recommendations, the parties may file written objections with 16 the Court. The document should be captioned “Objections to Magistrate Judge’s Findings and 17 Recommendations.” The parties are advised that failure to file objections within the specified time 18 may result in the waiver of rights on appeal. Wilkerson v. Wheeler, 772 F.3d 834, 838-39 (9th Cir. 19 2014) (citing Baxter v. Sullivan, 923 F.2d 1391, 1394 (9th Cir. 1991)). 20 21 IT IS SO ORDERED. 22 Dated: 23 January 13, 2017 UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 24 25 26 27 28 5

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