United States District Court, W.D. Washington
Noted For: December 12, 2014.
Aaron Hahn, Plaintiff, Pro se, WALLA WALLA, WA.
For Doug Waddington, Scott Russell, Robert Martin, Defendants: Brian James Considine, ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE (40116-OLY), OLYMPIA, WA.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Karen L. Strombom, United States Magistrate Judge.
In his complaint plaintiff Aaron Hahn alleges that defendants were deliberately indifferent to his mental health when they sent him to the Washington State Penitentiary and that they failed to protect him from an inmate to inmate assault after his transfer to that facility. Dkt. 19, p. 13. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss and one of the arguments raised is that the statute of limitations precludes consideration of the action. Dkt. 28. The Court has reviewed the record and finds that the statute of limitations prevents consideration of Mr. Hahn's claims. Further, Mr. Hahn fails to show that he is entitled to equitable tolling.
Defendants move to dismiss arguing that Washington State's three year statute of limitations precludes consideration of the case. Dkt. 28, pp. 4-5. Defendants also argue lack of personal participation and failure to state a claim. Dkt. 28, pp. 5-11. The named defendants are the former and current Superintendents of the Washington Corrections Center, Doug Waddington and Scott Russell, and a Classification Counselor, Robert Martin. Dkt. 19, p. 4.
Mr. Hahn responded to the motion to dismiss arguing that his action is not time barred because he filed it in a timely manner in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington on April 26, 2013, three years to the day after he was assaulted by inmate Dennis Repp. Dkt. 30.
The undersigned concludes that dismissal based on a running of the statute of limitation is proper in this case, even through plaintiff argues that he is entitled to equitable tolling. The Court recognizes that equitable tolling cannot generally be decided at the motion to dismiss stage. See Supermail Cargo, Inc. v. United States, 68 F.3d 1204, 1206 (9th Cir. 1995); Cervantes v. City of San Diego, 5 F.3d 1273, 1276 (9th Cir. 1993). However, in this case, even if the Court assumes every fact that plaintiff sets forth as true, and even if the Court considers the evidence in a light most favorable to the plaintiff, dismissal is proper because plaintiff does not meet Washington's strict requirements for equitable tolling.
Plaintiff states that he has a long history of mental illness and spent time in and out of mental health hospitals " throughout his life." Dkt. 19, p. 7. Mr. Hahn arrived at the Washington State Corrections Center in December of 2009, and saw his Classification Counselor around December 18, 2009. Dkt. 19, pp, 7-8. Mr. Hahn provides proof that after he was classified he sent defendant Martin an e-mail stating that he could not go to Walla Walla and that he would explain why when he saw Mr. Martin again. Dkt. 19, p. 8, See also Exhibit 2 to Complaint, Dkt. 19, pp. 18-20. In later e-mails plaintiff complained that he needed to be separated from inmates named Mike Armstrong, Andrew White, and Jeremiah Anderson. Dkt. 19, pp. 19-20.
On February 14, 2010, Mr. Hahn was transferred to the Washington State Penitentiary and on April 26, 2010, he was attacked by inmate Dennis Repp. Dkt. 19, pp. 21-24. Plaintiff injuries required medical treatment including stitches to close a wound over the bridge of his nose. Dkt 19, pp. 25-28. Prison officials at Walla Walla placed Mr. Hahn in administrative segregation for protective reasons and to review his housing. Dkt. 19, p. 41. Mr. Hahn waited over two years, until December 6, 2012, to file a grievance about the April 26, 2010 assault. Dkt. 19, p. 56. The prison found his grievances were not filed within the time frames set forth by the Washington State Department of Corrections. Dkt. 19, p. 61. Defendants did not brief the issue of failure to exhaust administrative remedies in their motion to dismiss and the undersigned will not address this issue further.
In his response to defendants' motion to dismiss Mr. Hahn states that he filed a timely complaint on or before April 26, 2013, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington under cause number 2:13-cv-05051EFS. Dkt. 30, p. 1. Plaintiff states that in June of 2013, the court ordered him to either amend his complaint or voluntarily dismiss the action and that ultimately his action was dismissed on or about September 19, 2013, because it was filed in the wrong district. Dkt. 30, p. 2. Plaintiff filed this action on January 15, 2014, over three years and eight months after he was ...