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Dutcher v. Ryan

United States District Court, D. Arizona

June 8, 2017

Robert William Dutcher, Plaintiff,
v.
Charles L. Ryan, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          Honorable Roslyn O. Silver Senior United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Robert William Dutcher, who is currently confined in Arizona State Prison Complex-Eyman, brought this civil rights case pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 40.) Before the Court is Defendant Corizon's Motion to Dismiss, which Plaintiff opposes.[1] (Docs. 69, 77.)

         The Court will deny Corizon's Motion to Dismiss without prejudice and dismiss Defendant Roberts from the action without prejudice.[2]

         I. Background

         In his Second Amended Complaint, Plaintiff brought claims for denial of constitutionally adequate medical care in violation of the Eighth Amendment, retaliation in violation of the First Amendment, and denial of meaningful access to the courts in violation of the First Amendment. (Doc. 40.) Plaintiff alleged that he was denied constitutionally adequate medical treatment for his glaucoma and went blind as a result, and that prison officials retaliated against him for filing grievances complaining about his medical treatment.

         On screening under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), the Court determined that Plaintiff stated Eighth Amendment medical care claims against Defendants Corizon and Roberts and First Amendment retaliation claims against Defendant Stowe and Shields and directed these Defendants to answer. The Court dismissed the remaining claims and Defendants. (Doc. 42.)

         Defendant Corizon moves to dismiss on the ground that Plaintiff's claims against it are barred by the statute of limitations.

         II. Statute of Limitations Standard

         Section 1983 does not include its own statute of limitations. TwoRivers v. Lewis, 174 F.3d 987, 991 (9th Cir. 1999). Therefore, federal courts apply the statute of limitations governing personal injury claims in the forum state, “along with the forum state's law regarding tolling, including equitable tolling, except to the extent any of these laws is inconsistent with federal law.” Butler v. Nat'l Cmty. Renaissance of Cal., 766 F.3d 1191, 1198 (9th Cir. 2014) (citation omitted). In Arizona, the limitations period for personal injury claims is two years. Marks v. Parra, 785 F.2d 1419, 1420 (9th Cir. 1986); see also Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 12-542 (providing that actions for personal injury must be commenced within two years after the cause of action accrues).

         Although the statute of limitations applicable to § 1983 claims is borrowed from state law, federal law continues to govern when a § 1983 claim accrues. Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 388 (2007); TwoRivers v. Lewis, 174 F.3d at 991. Under federal law, a claim accrues “when [the plaintiff] knows or has reason to know of the injury which is the basis of the cause of action.” Kimes v. Stone, 84 F.3d 1121, 1128 (9th Cir. 1996) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).

         For the defense of the running of the statute of limitations to be decided on a motion to dismiss, the untimeliness must clearly appear on the face of the complaint. See Supermail Cargo, Inc. v. U.S., 68 F.3d 1204, 1206-1207 (9th Cir. 1995) (“A motion to dismiss based on the running of the statute of limitations period may be granted only ‘if the assertions of the complaint, read with the required liberality, would not permit the plaintiff to prove that the statute was tolled.'”) (quoting Jablon v. Dean Witter & Co., 614 F.2d 677, 682 (9th Cir. 1980)).

         III. Corizon's Motion to Dismiss

         Corizon argues that based on Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint, Plaintiff's alleged injury began on March 18, 2012, when Plaintiff was diagnosed with glaucoma. (Doc. 69.) Corizon became the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) healthcare provider in March 2013. (See Doc. 69 at 4.)

         Contrary to Corizon's argument, the untimeliness of Plaintiff's medical care claim is not apparent from the face of the Second Amended Complaint. Plaintiff alleges that he was denied constitutionally adequate medical care for his glaucoma starting at the time of his diagnosis on March 18, 2012, that he filed several Health Needs Requests seeking treatment from the time of his diagnosis through March 2015, and that his treatment was repeatedly interrupted, denied, or delayed during this time. (Doc. 40 at 10-11.) Plaintiff filed this lawsuit on June 12, 2015. (See Doc. 1) Even if Corizon was correct that Plaintiff could not assert claims relating to his medical treatment prior to June 2013, it is ...


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