Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Rownan v. Pierce County

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

June 11, 2019

DONALD W ROWNAN, Plaintiff,
v.
PIERCE COUNTY, Defendant.

          ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE OR AMEND

          David W. Christel United States Magistrate Judge.

         Plaintiff Donald W. Rownan, 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 July 11, 2019, to cure the deficiencies identified herein.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff, who is incarcerated at Washington Corrections Center, alleges he was “wrongfully imprisoned” after a Pierce County Sheriff arrested him for possession of a stolen vehicle. Dkt. 1-1. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges he had no knowledge the vehicle was stolen and was wrongfully incarcerated on the pending charge from December 25, 2015 until April 6, 2016, “when the charge was dismissed with prejudice without a trial.” Id. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages for his alleged wrongful imprisonment. 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 the Complaint, Plaintiff alleges he was wrongfully imprisoned from December 25, 2015 until April 6, 2016. Dkt. 1-1.

         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).

         Plaintiff alleges he was wrongfully imprisoned from December 25, 2015 to April 6, 2016. Dkt. 1-1. As such, based on the allegations contained in the Complaint, Plaintiff had actual notice of the facts related to the claims alleged in the Complaint on December 25, 2015 (or at the latest, April 6, 2016). See id.; 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 April 6, 2019, three years after Plaintiff was released from his alleged wrongful imprisonment. See Dkt. 1-1. Plaintiff signed - effectively filing - the Complaint on May 23, 2019, approximately six weeks after the last possible date the statute of limitations expired. See Id. Plaintiff has not shown statutory or equitable tolling is applicable in this case. See Id. Therefore, Plaintiff must show cause why the Complaint should not be dismissed because it is untimely.

         B. Impro ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.