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Jenkins v. Hutcheson

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Statesboro Division

December 9, 2014

ADRIAN JENKINS, Plaintiff,
v.
JOSEPH HUTCHESON, Defendant.

MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

JAMES E. GRAHAM, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff, who is currently housed at Hancock State Prison in Sparta, Georgia, filed a cause of action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 contesting certain conditions of his confinement while he was housed at Smith State Prison in Glennville, Georgia. Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss, and Plaintiff filed a Response. Defendant filed a Reply. For the reasons which follow, Defendant's Motion should be DENIED.

STATEMENT OF THE CASE

Plaintiff contends that Defendant assaulted him during an escort. Plaintiff asserts that he told Defendant that he would be placed in harm's way by moving into a cell with an inmate because they did not get along with each other. Plaintiff contends that Defendant slammed his head into the concrete wall several times, which resulted in a cut above Plaintiffs eye and headaches. Plaintiff also contends that he was taken to medical and was knocked to the floor and shackled. Plaintiff asserts that these shackles were so tight that he could not walk, and he was dragged and pulled every step to medical and back to a cell. Plaintiff also asserts that these shackles left gashes in his wrists and legs, causing massive swelling, nerve damage, and numbness in his hands. Plaintiff alleges that he later received a medical safety handcuff profile as a result.

Defendant contends that Plaintiffs Complaint is barred by the applicable statute of limitations period. Defendant also contends that Plaintiffs claims are not saved by the Georgia renewal statute.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Under a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a court must "accept[ ] the allegations in the complaint as true and constru[e] them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Belanger v. Salvation Army, 556 F.3d 1153, 1155 (11th Cir. 2009). "A complaint must state a facially plausible claim for relief, and [a] claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Wooten v. Quicken Loans, Inc., 626 F.3d 1187, 1196 (11th Cir. 2010) (quoting Ashcroft v. lqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). "A pleading that offers labels and conclusions or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action" does not suffice. Ashcroft, 556 U.S. at 678. "To dismiss a prisoner's complaint as time-barred... it must appear beyond a doubt from the complaint itself that the prisoner can prove no set of facts which would avoid a statute of limitations bar." Mckenzie v. United States Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Agency, 143 F.Appx. 165, 168 (11th Cir. 2005) (citing Hughes v. Loft, 350 F.3d 1157, 1163 (11th Cir. 2003) (internal quotations omitted).

DISCUSSION AND CITATION TO AUTHORITY

Defendant contends that Plaintiff signed his Complaint on July 17, 2014, which is the earliest he could have filed his Complaint under the mailbox rule. Defendant also contends that this date is more than two (2) years after the incident underlying this cause of action, which allegedly occurred on June 19, 2012. Defendant asserts that Plaintiffs Complaint is barred by the applicable statute of limitations. Defendant alleges that Georgia's renewal statute does not apply and cannot serve to toll the statute of limitations period because Plaintiffs previously-filed complaint does not serve as a properly filed cause of action.

Plaintiff contends that this Court did not dismiss his cause of action during frivolity review, even though the Court was aware at the time he filed his Complaint when the alleged incident occurred.

Constitutional claims brought pursuant to section 1983 "are tort actions, subject to the statute of limitations governing personal injury actions in the state where the § 1983 action has been brought." Powell v. Thomas, 643 F.3d 1300, 1303 (11th Cir. 2011). Georgia has a two-year statute of limitations for personal injury actions. O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33. Although state law determines the applicable statute of limitations, "[f]ederal law determines when the statute of limitations begins to run." Lovett v. Ray, 327 F.3d 1181, 1182 (11th Cir. 2003). As a general rule, "the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the facts which would support a cause of action are apparent or should be apparent to a person with a reasonably prudent regard for his rights." Id.

Plaintiff asserts that Defendant assaulted him on June 19, 2012, and he signed his Complaint on July 17, 2014. (Doc. No. 1, pp. 5-6). At first blush, it appears that Plaintiff filed this Complaint untimely. However, it must be determined whether Georgia's renewal statute allows Plaintiff to proceed with this cause of action.

The Georgia renewal statute, O.C.G.A. § 9-2-61, applies to § 1983 actions in federal court. Scott v. Muscoqee Cnty., 949 F.2d 1122, 1123 (11th Cir. 1992). The Georgia renewal statute provides:

(a) When any case has been commenced in either a state or federal court within the applicable statute of limitations and the plaintiff discontinues or dismisses the same, it may be recommenced in a court of this state or in a federal court either within the original applicable period of limitations or within six months after the discontinuance or dismissal, whichever is later, subject to the requirement of payment of costs in the original action as required by subsection (d) of Code Section 9-11-41; provided, however, if the dismissal or ...

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