Harris v. UBH of Oregon, LLC
OPINION AND ORDER: UBH's Motion to Dismiss 19 is GRANTED and plaintiff's defamation claim is DISMISSED with prejudice. As it is the only remaining claim in this case, final judgment shall be entered. Signed on 1/28/2019 by Judge Ann L. Aiken. (ck)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF OREGON
DAVID B. HARRIS,
Case No. 3:17-cv-01296-AA
OPINION AND ORDER
UBH OF OREGON, LLC, dba Cedar Hills
AIKEN, District Judge:
Plaintiff David Hanis, proceeding prose and in for ma pauperis, filed this diversity action
against his former employer, defendant UBH of Oregon, LLC ("UBH"), asse1iing claims of
intentional infliction of emotional distress ("IIED") and defamation. I dismissed his IIED claim
with prejudice pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii), but pe1mitted his defamation claim to
proceed. Now, UBH has filed a Motion to Dismiss (doc. 19), arguing that the statute oflimitations
has run on plaintiffs defamation claim. Plaintiff has not responded to the motion, leaving the
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Plaintiff formerly worked as a therapist for UBH. He alleges that on August 18, 2015, his
clinical supervisor, Shanna Branham, placed him on administrative leave after a patient accused
him of misconduct. On August 20, 2015, Branham asked plaintiff to return to work the next day.
When plaintiff returned to work on August 21, 2015, Branham fired him and explained that "while
'investigating' [the patient's] complaint, we ... looked at other things" including that plaintiff
"was late to work too often." Am. Comp!. ,r 20 (boldface in original).
Plaintiff filed his initial Complaint (doc. 1) on August 21, 2017 and filed his Amended
Complaint (doc. 10) on October 20, 2017. Plaintiff served UBH on October 11, 2018.
A statute of limitations defense may be raised by a motion to dismiss "if the running of the
statute is apparent on the face of the complaint." Jablon v. Dean Witter & Co., 614 F.2d 677,682
(9th Cir. 1980). A motion to dismiss can be granted "only if it appears beyond doubt that the
plaintiff can prove no set of facts in suppmt of his or her claim." Id. Under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6), a complaint is construed in favor of the plaintiff, and its factual allegations are
taken as true. Daniels-Hall v. Nat'! Educ. Ass 'n, 629 F.3d 992, 998 (9th Cir. 2010). However, the
plaintiff must assert factual allegations that are "enough to raise a right to relief above the
speculative level." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007).
Oregon has a one-year statute of limitation for defamation. Or. Rev. Stat. § 12.120(2).
Generally, the limitation period begins to run on the day that the allegedly defamatory statement
is made public. Bockv. Collier, 175 Or. 145, 148 (1944). However, the discovery rule applies to
defamation claims when defamatory statements are made in confidence and not something that
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plaintiff would be presumed to have known about, even exercising reasonable diligence. White v.
Gurnsey, 48 Or. App. 931,936 (1980). Under the discovery rule, the statute of limitations does
not begin to run until "the plaintiff learns, or with reasonable diligence should have learned, that
she has a cause of action." Id. at 935.
Plaintiffs defamation claim is based on plaintiffs allegation that Branham told "the CEO
of CHH as well as other senior administrative personnel and ... human resources" that plaintiff
was late to work too often. Amend. Comp!.
,r,r 13, 19.
Plaintiff alleges that Branham made that
statement between August 18, 2015 and August 21, 2015. Id. Plaintiff became aware of the
statement when Branham told him, that "we ... looked at other things" like his tardiness when
deciding to terminate plaintiff. Id. at
(boldface in original). At the latest, the statute of
limitations for plaintiffs defamation claim began to run that day-on August 21, 2015. Plaintiff
filed this lawsuit on August 21, 2017, two years after plaintiff learned about the statements and
approximately one year after the statute of limitations had expired. Thus, it is apparent from the
face of the Amended Complaint that plaintiffs defamation claim is baned by the statute of
For the reasons stated above, UBH's Motion to Dismiss (doc. 19) is GRANTED and
plaintiffs defamation claim is DISMISSED with prejudice. As it is the only remaining claim in
this case, final judgement shall be entered.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Dated this Jt:iday of January 2019.
United States District Judge
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