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White v. Haynes

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

May 7, 2019

JOEL WHITE, Plaintiff,
v.
RON HAYNES, WASHINGTON STATE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, Defendants.

          ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE OR AMEND

          David W. Christel, United States Magistrate Judge.

         Plaintiff Joel White, proceeding pro se, filed this civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.[1] Having reviewed and screened Plaintiff's Complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court finds Plaintiff has failed to state a claim, but provides Plaintiff leave to file an amended pleading by June 6, 2019, to cure the deficiencies identified herein.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff, who is incarcerated at Stafford Creek Corrections Center, alleges he has been illegally incarcerated since being coerced into pleading guilty on July 12, 2013. Dkt. 1-1. Plaintiff requests monetary damages. Id.

         II. Discussion

         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).

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

         A. Statute of Limitations

         In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges he was coerced into pleading guilty in 2013. Dkt. 1-1. He also alleges his right to be free from double jeopardy was violated in 1985 and 2013. Id.

         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 claims alleged in the Complaint in 1985 and on July 12, 2013. See Dkt. 1-1; 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). Taking the latest date possible, the time for filing a lawsuit expired on July 12, 2016, three years after Plaintiff was allegedly coerced into pleading guilty. See Dkt. 1-1. Plaintiff initiated this lawsuit on April 16, 2019, approximately three years after the last possible date the statute of limitations expired. See Dkt. 1. Plaintiff has ...


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