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Marroquin v. Fernandez-Carr

United States District Court, D. Arizona

January 10, 2018

Armando A. Marroquin, Plaintiff,
v.
Yolanda Fernandez-Carr, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          David G. Campbell United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Armando A. Marroquin, who is confined in the Adelanto ICE Processing Center in Adelanto, California, brought this civil rights case pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Before the Court are Defendants' Motions to Dismiss (Docs. 24, 38, 50, 60). Plaintiff was informed of his rights and obligations to respond (Doc. 27, 40, 52, 61), and he opposes the motions. (Doc. 37, 44, 65.)[1] Defendants' motions will be granted in part and denied in part.

         I. Background

         On screening of the Second Amended Complaint (Doc. 14) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), the Court determined that Plaintiff stated First Amendment claims against Defendants Fernandez-Carr and Prince in Counts One and Two, respectively; Eighth Amendment claims against Defendants Burnett and Matranga in Counts Three and Four, respectively; and First and Eighth Amendment claims against Defendants Cosby and Kelly in Counts Five and Six, respectively. (Doc. 16.) The Court ordered Defendants to respond to the respective claims against them. (Id.) On May 23, 2017, Defendant Giovino was substituted for Defendant Matranga. (Doc. 36.)

         Defendants move to dismiss certain portions of the Second Amended Complaint on the grounds that these claims are barred by the statute of limitations and that Plaintiff has failed to state a claim. (Docs. 24, 38, 50.) Defendants also move to dismiss for failure to prosecute. (Doc. 60.)

         II. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)

         A Rule 12(b)(6) motion “tests the legal sufficiency of a claim.” Navarro v. Block, 250 F.3d 729, 732 (9th Cir. 2001). In deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court takes all allegations of material fact as true and construes them in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Marcus v. Holder, 574 F.3d 1182, 1184 (9th Cir. 2009). The court will “presume that general allegations embrace those specific facts that are necessary to support the claim.” Nat'l Org. for Women, Inc. v. Scheidler, 510 U.S. 249, 256 (1994) (quotation omitted). Where the plaintiff is a pro se prisoner, the court must “construe the pleadings liberally and [] afford the petitioner the benefit of any doubt.” Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010).

         As a general rule, when deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court looks only to the face of the complaint and documents attached thereto. Van Buskirk v. Cable News Network, Inc., 284 F.3d 977, 980 (9th Cir. 2002); Hal Roach Studios, Inc. v. Richard Feiner & Co., Inc., 896 F.2d 1542, 1555 n.19 (9th Cir. 1990). If a court considers evidence outside the pleading, it must convert the Rule 12(b)(6) motion into a Rule 56 motion for summary judgment. United States v. Ritchie, 342 F.3d 903, 907-08 (9th Cir. 2003). A court may, however, consider documents incorporated by reference in the complaint or matters of judicial notice without converting the motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment. Id.

         A Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss is almost never an appropriate response when the Court has already screened a prisoner complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b) and directed the defendants to respond. The standard for dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is identical to the standard under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). After the Court has screened a prisoner complaint pursuant to § 1915A(b), a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss should be granted only if the defendants can convince the Court that reconsideration is appropriate. Reconsideration is appropriate only if the district court “(1) is presented with newly discovered evidence, (2) committed clear error or the initial decision was manifestly unjust, or (3) if there is an intervening change in controlling law.” School Dist. No. 1J, Multnomah Cnty. v. ACandS, Inc., 5 F.3d 1255, 1263 (9th Cir. 1993).

         III. Discussion

         A. Statute of Limitations

         Defendants argue that Plaintiff's claims that arose before May 25, 2014 - two years prior to the filing of his original Complaint - are barred by the two-year statute of limitations. Section 1983 does not include its own statute of limitations. TwoRivers v. Lewis, 174 F.3d 987, 991 (9th Cir. 1999). 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. 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 987, 991 (9th Cir. 1999). Under federal law, a claim accrues “when the plaintiff knows or has reason to know of the injury which is the basis of the action.” Kimes v. Stone, 84 F.3d 1121, 1128 (9th Cir. 1996). For a statute of limitations defense 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).

         Contrary to Defendants' arguments, it is not clear from the face of the Complaint when Plaintiff completed the administrative grievance process or whether the statute of limitations would have been tolled while he completed that process. See Brown v. Valoff, 422 F.3d 926, 943 (9th Cir. 2005) (holding that the “applicable statute of limitations must be tolled while a prisoner completes the mandatory exhaustion process.”). Further, it is not apparent from the face of the Complaint whether the continuing violations doctrine could apply to toll the statute of limitations with respect to Plaintiff's medical claims. See Evans v. Cty. of San Diego, No. 06 CV 0877 JM(RBB), 2008 WL 842459, at *12 (S.D. Cal. Mar. 27, 2008) (citing cases that applied continuing violation doctrine to § 1983 claims based on deliberate indifference, and holding that statute of limitations began running on last date of allegedly unconstitutional medical treatment pursuant to the continuing violations doctrine). The Court cannot determine whether Plaintiff's claims are barred by the statute of limitations at this early stage of the litigation, and Defendants' Motions to Dismiss will be denied without prejudice as to that issue.

         B. ...


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