Howell v. Walworth County South Dakota et al
ORDER granting 13 Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim; granting 17 Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim. Signed by U.S. District Judge Charles B. Kornmann on 4/23/2021. (SLT) Modified on 4/27/2021 delivered to Dianne Howell via usps with non-prisoner appeal packet (SLT).
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
APR 2 7 2021
DISTRICT OF SOUTH DAKOTA
MEMORANDUM OPINON AND ORDER
WALWORTH COUNTY SOUTH DAKOTA
and MOBRIDGE REGIONAL HOSPITAL,
Plaintiff filed a pro se complaint for violation of her civil rights arising out of an
alleged forced catheterization which took place in September 1997 at the Mobridge
Regional Hospital at the direction of Mobridge, South Dakota,law enforcement officers.
Defendants filed motions to dismiss.
"To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual
matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft
V. iQbal. 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L. Ed. 2d 868 (2009), quoting
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twomblv. 550 U.S. 544, 547, 127 S. Ct. 1955, 1960, 167 L. Ed. 2d 929
(2007). "A pro se complaint must be liberally construed, Estelle v. Gamble.429 U.S.
97,106,97 S.Ct. 285, 50 L.Ed.2d 251 (1976), and 'pro se litigants are held to a lesser
pleading standard than other parties[,]' Fed. Express Corp. v. Holowecki. 552 U.S. 389,
402, 128 S.Ct. 1147, 170 L.Ed.2d 10(2008)." Topchian v. JPMorgan Chase Bank. N.A..
760 F.3d 843, 849(8th Cir. 2014).
"A court may dismiss a complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)
as barred by a statute of limitations ifthe complaint itself shows that the claim is timebarred." Wong V. Wells Fargo BankN.A..789 F.3d 889. 897 fSth Cir. 20151. That is the
case here. Plaintiff contends that the forced catheterization, upon which she bases her
claim, occurred in September 1997, over 23 years after she filed her federal complaint.
The length of the statute of limitations in a § 1983 action "is that which the State provides
for personal-injury torts." Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384,387, 127 S.Ct. 1091, 166
L.Ed.2d 973(2007). South Dakota adopted a specific statute of limitations for § 1983
actions. Pursuant to SDCL 15-2-15.2,"[a]ny action brought under the federal civil rights
statutes may be commenced only within three years after the alleged constitutional
deprivation has occurred." This action was clearly filed beyond the three year statute of
limitations. There is no period of limitations set forth in SDCL Chapter 15-2 applicable
to the allegations set forth in the complaint which would extend the period of limitations
sufficiently to make this action timely.
II. Respondeat Superior.
Defendant Walworth County has also moved to dismiss on the basis that the
complaint fails to allege facts warranting liability against Walworth County. Plaintiffs
complaint contends that "the Thugs in Blue" put her in cuffs and took her to the hospital
where "they" forcefully catheterized her and took her urine. She further alleges that the
"Mobridge Police officers" then advised her she was free to go home. Plaintiffs
complaint, read liberally, alleges actions by the City of Mobridge police officers, not
Walworth County Sheriffs deputies.
Even if plaintiffs complaint could be construed as alleging action by Walworth
County employees, plaintiffs complaint fails to state a claim against Walworth County.
The United States Supreme Court held in Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. of Citv of N.Y..
436 U.S. 658,691,98 S.Ct. 2018, 2036, 56 L.Ed.2d 611 (1978), that "a municipality
cannot be held liable solely because it employs a tortfeasor—or, in other words, a
municipality cannot be held liable under § 1983 on a respondeat superior theory." See
Calgaro v. St. Louis County. 919 F.2d 1054, 1058 (8th Cir. 2019)(applying Monell to
claims against a county). "To hold the county liable when an agent or employee violates
a plaintiffs constitutional rights, the violation must stem from an official municipal
policy or custom." Thiel v. Korte. 954 F.3d 1125,1129(8th Cir. 2020). Plaintiff has.not
alleged that the officers who took her to the hospital for the alleged catheterization
operated under a Walworth County policy or custom.
III. Acts Under Color of State Law.
"To state a claim under[42 U.S.C.] § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the violation of
a right secured by the Constitution and laws ofthe United States, and must show that the
alleged deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state law." Cook v.
City of Bella Villa. 582 F.3d 840, 848-49(8th Cir. 2009), quotins West v. Atkins, 487
U.S. 42,48, 108 S.Ct. 2250, 2254-55,101 L.Ed.2d 40(1988). "The traditional definition
of acting under color of state law requires that the defendant in a § 1983 action have
exercised power 'possessed by virtue ofstate law and made possible only because the
wrongdoer is clothed with the authority of state law.'" West v. Atkins.487 U.S. at 49,
108 S. Ct. at 2255, quotins United States v. Classic. 313 U.S. 299, 326,61 S.Ct. 1031,
1043, 85 L.Ed. 1368(1941).
Mobridge Regional Hospital is not a governmental agency. It is a nonprofit
corporation organized imder the laws of South Dakota.
CN=047Q55221093095116031077246027093204049232211002. visited April 19, 2021.
Plaintiff has failed to respond to Mobridge Regional Hospital's motion to dismiss on the
basis that it is not a state actor and the Court can discern no facts in plaintiffs complaint
alleging that Mobridge Regional Hospital was acting under color of state law.
IT IS ORDERED:
1. Defendant Mobridge Regional Hospital's motion, Doc. 13, to dismiss is granted.
2. Defendant Walworth County's motion, Doc. 17, to dismiss is granted.
3. This matter is dismissed with prejudice and without costs.
DATED this ^day^April, 2021.
BY THE COURT:
CHARLES B. KORNMANN
United States District Judge
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?