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Greystoke v. Clallam County Corrections Facility

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma

May 15, 2017



          David W. Christel United States Magistrate Judge

         Plaintiff John Greystoke, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Having reviewed and screened Plaintiff's Amended Complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court declines to serve the Amended Complaint but provides Plaintiff leave to file an amended pleading by June 16, 2017, to cure the deficiencies identified herein.


         Plaintiff, who is housed at Clallam County Corrections Facility (“Corrections Facility”), alleges his constitutional rights were violated when he was (1) sexually assaulted by Defendant James Vice; (2) forced to live in inhumane conditions of confinement; and (3) denied adequate medical care by Defendant Arthur Tordini. Dkt. 16.[1], [2]


         Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995, the Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must “dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint: (1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.” Id. at (b); 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); see Barren v. Harrington, 152 F.3d 1193 (9th Cir. 1998).

         In order to state a claim for relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must show: (1) he suffered a violation of rights protected by the Constitution or created by federal statute, and (2) the violation was proximately caused by a person acting under color of state law. See Crumpton v. Gates, 947 F.2d 1418, 1420 (9th Cir. 1991). The first step in a § 1983 claim is therefore to identify the specific constitutional right allegedly infringed. Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994). To satisfy the second prong, a plaintiff must allege facts showing how individually named defendants caused, or personally participated in causing, the harm alleged in the complaint. See Arnold v. IBM, 637 F.2d 1350, 1355 (9th Cir. 1981).

         Plaintiff's Amended Complaint suffers from deficiencies requiring dismissal if not corrected in an amended complaint.

         I. Statute of Limitations

         In his Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges he was sexually assaulted by Defendant Vice in 1991. Dkt. 16. Plaintiff was directed to show cause why this claim should not be dismissed as barred by the statute of limitations. See Dkt. 10. Plaintiff filed a response regarding statutory rape, not the statute of limitations. See Dkt. 16-1. The Court therefore provides Plaintiff with a second opportunity to show cause why this claim is untimely.

         A complaint must be timely filed. The Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, contains no statute of limitations. “Thus, the federal courts [] apply the applicable period of limitations under state law for the jurisdiction in which the claim arose.” Rose v. Rinaldi, 654 F.2d 546, 547 (9th Cir. 1981). In Rose, the Ninth Circuit determined the three year limitations period identified in Revised Code of Washington 4.16.080(2) is the applicable statute of limitations for § 1983 cases in Washington. 654 F.2d at 547; see R.C.W. § 4.16.080(2).

         The Court also applies the forum state's law regarding equitable tolling for actions arising under § 1983. Jones v. Blanas, 393 F.3d 918, 927 (9th Cir. 2004). In Washington, courts permit equitable tolling “when justice requires.” Millay v. Cam, 135 Wash.2d 193, 206 (1998). “The predicates for equitable tolling are bad faith, deception, or false assurances by the defendant and the exercise of diligence by the plaintiff.” Id. Courts “typically permit equitable tolling to occur only sparingly, and should not extend it to a garden variety claim of excusable neglect.” State v. Robinson, 104 Wash.App. 657, 667 (2001) (internal quotations omitted). Washington State also allows for a tolling period when a person is imprisoned on a criminal charge prior to sentencing. See R.C.W. § 4.16.190; see also Williams v. Holevinski, 2006 WL 216705, *2 (E.D. Wash. July 31, 2006).

         Although the statute of limitations is an affirmative defense which normally may not be raised by the Court sua sponte, it may be grounds for sua sponte dismissal of an in forma pauperis complaint where the defense is complete and obvious from the face of the pleadings or the Court's own records. See Franklin v. Murphy, 745 F.2d 1221, 1228-30 (9th Cir. 1984).

         From the allegations contained in the Complaint, Plaintiff had actual notice of the facts related to the claim alleged against Defendant Vice on March 31, 1991. See Dkt. 16, p. 3; Kimes v. Stone, 84 F.3d 1121, 1128 (9th Cir. 1996) (a claim accrues when the plaintiff knows or has reason to know of the injury which is the basis of the action). The time for filing a complaint as to this claim expired three years later, on March 31, 1994. Plaintiff initiated this lawsuit on April 8, 2017, approximately 23 years after the statute of limitations expired. See Dkt. 1. Plaintiff has not shown statutory or equitable ...

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