Daniels v. Mezo et al
ORDER DENYING Defendant Reichert's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 106 ). Signed by Judge Staci M. Yandle on 2/13/2018. (bps)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
THOMAS T. MEZO, SHANA BEBOUT,
and KEVIN E. REICHERT,
Case No. 14-CV-1058-SMY-RJD
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
YANDLE, District Judge:
This matter is before the Court on Defendant Kevin Reichert’s Motion to Dismiss (Doc.
106). For the following reasons, the Motion is DENIED.
Plaintiff Darrian Daniels filed this lawsuit on October 1, 2014 pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983, alleging that his constitutional rights were violated while he was incarcerated at Menard
Correctional Center (“Menard”). Daniels alleges that officers failed to protect him from an
attack by his cellmate. He further alleges that soon after the attack, Officer Mezo pushed him
down the stairs and beat him. Following threshold screening, Daniels was allowed to proceed on
an Eighth Amendment failure to protect claim against Intel Officer Shana Bebout, Officer
Thomas Mezo, and other Unknown Defendants, and an Eighth Amendment excessive force
claim against Mezo and other Unknown Defendants.
Daniels filed a Second Amended Complaint on September 8, 2017, adding a failure to
protect claim against Kevin Reichert, a lieutenant in the internal affairs unit at Menard at the
relevant time. Daniels alleges that he was interviewed by Bebout concerning harassment and
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threats made by Mezo on March 21, 2014. Bebout advised Reichert of the interview, as he was
responsible for addressing claims related to staff abuse. Daniels alleges that Reichert failed to
investigate Daniels’ concerns about Mezo. He also alleges that a few hours later, Mezo placed
Daniels with an unstable inmate who attacked him and, a few days later, Mezo attacked Daniels
Defendant Reichert filed the instant Motion to Dismiss, arguing that the claims against
him are time barred by the statute of limitations (Doc. 106). Daniels opposes the motion, and
contends that Defendant’s conduct prevented him from bringing his claim sooner (Doc. 113).
Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides for dismissal if a
Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. In considering a motion to
dismiss, the Court accepts as true all well-pleaded allegations in the Complaint and draws all
possible inferences in favor of the plaintiff. See Killingsworth v. HSBC Bank Nevada, N.A., 507
F.3d 614, 618 (7th Cir. 2007) (quotations omitted). A motion to dismiss on the basis of a statute
of limitations defense is appropriate if there is a clear time-bar. Ennenga v. Starns, 677 F.3d
766, 773 (7th Cir. 2012).
Although Section 1983 does not contain an express statute of limitations, the limitations
and tolling laws in the state where the alleged injury occurred are applied. Wilson v. Giesen, 956
F.2d 738, 740 (7th Cir. 1992). Illinois law prescribes that actions for personal injury must be
commenced within two years after the cause of action accrued; thus, this case is governed by a
two-year statute of limitations period. 735 ILCS § 5/13-202; see Ashafa v. City of Chicago, 146
F.3d 459, 461 (7th Cir. 1998) (citations omitted).
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The parties do not dispute that Daniels’ claims against Reichert accrued on March 24,
2014, when he alleges that he was assaulted by Defendant Mezo. Daniels made no allegations
against Reichert until he sought leave to amend his Complaint on August 14, 2017. As such,
Daniels’ claim against Reichert accrued more than three years prior to him adding him as a
Although Daniels acknowledges that more than two years passed before he named
Reichert as a defendant, he asserts that the doctrines of equitable tolling or equitable estoppel
render his filing timely. Specifically, Daniels argues that he was unaware Reichert was involved
in causing his injury until June 27, 2017, when his attorney deposed Bebout and learned that she
had involved Reichert in her investigation of Daniels’ claims against Mezo.
Soon thereafter, on July 31, 2017, Defendants produced an email string referring to the
alleged use of force by Mezo, which included communications from Bebout, and a response by
Reichert. Daniels maintains that this information should have been produced by Defendants in
response to his discovery requests propounded in 2015. Daniels requested “all documents
evidencing, mentioning, or referring to his excessive force and failure to protect claims, and all
other documents” that related to the allegations in his Complaint.
Defendants objected to
Daniels’ requests, but also indicated that no responsive documents had been identified.
Because Daniels sought documents that would have revealed Reichert’s involvement in
his constitutional claim prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations, the Court finds it
appropriate to apply equitable tolling in this instance. Daniels has established his due diligence
in seeking information relevant to the existence of his claim against Reichert. Cada v. Baxter
Healthcare Corporation, 920 F.2d 446, 451 (7th Cir. 1990) (citation omitted).
understood he had been injured, but was unable to obtain the evidence necessary to determine
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that Reichert was liable in a timely manner. See Billman v. Indiana Dep’t of Corrections, 56
F.3d 785, 789 (7th Cir. 1995). 1
For the foregoing reasons, Defendant Kevin Reichert’s Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 106) is
IT IS SO ORDERED.
DATED: February 13, 2018
s/ Staci M. Yandle
STACI M. YANDLE
United States District Judge
Because Daniels has not provided sufficient evidence to demonstrate that Defendants “took active steps” to prevent
Plaintiff from suing in time, such as intentionally hiding evidence or promising not to plead the statute of
limitations, the doctrine of equitable estoppel is not applicable.
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