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Ocampo v. Appling County Sheriff'S Office

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

August 25, 2017

RIGOBERTO OCAMPO, Plaintiff,
v.
APPLING COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE,[1] Defendant.

          ORDER AND MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          R. STAN BAKER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff, who is currently housed at D. Ray James Correctional Facility in Folkston, Georgia, filed this Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 4.) For the reasons which follow, the Court DENIES Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis. (Doc. 2.) Additionally, I RECOMMEND that the Court DISMISS with prejudice Plaintiff's Complaint, (doc. 1), and DIRECT the Clerk of Court to CLOSE this case. I also RECOMMEND that the Court DENY Plaintiff in forma pauperis status on appeal.

         BACKGROUND[2]

In his Complaint, Plaintiff contends an unidentified person shot him in the stomach in 1999. Plaintiff alleges Defendant violated his constitutional rights by failing to properly investigate that incident. (Doc. 4, p. 12.) In addition, Plaintiff maintains that he received inadequate medical care for his injuries. (Id.) Plaintiff requests as relief $5 million in damages and a visa allowing him to remain in the United States. (Id.)

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Plaintiff seeks to bring this action in forma pauperis. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1), the Court may authorize the filing of a civil lawsuit without the prepayment of fees if the plaintiff submits an affidavit that includes a statement of all of his assets, shows an inability to pay the filing fee, and also includes a statement of the nature of the action which shows that he is entitled to redress. Even if the plaintiff proves indigence, the Court must dismiss the action if it is frivolous or malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(ii). Additionally, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court must review a complaint in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity. Upon such screening, the Court must dismiss a complaint, or any portion thereof, that is frivolous or malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted or which seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

         The Court looks to the instructions for pleading contained in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure when reviewing a Complaint on an application to proceed in forma pauperis. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 8 (“A pleading that states a claim for relief must contain [among other things] . . . a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”); Fed.R.Civ.P. 10 (requiring that claims be set forth in numbered paragraphs, each limited to a single set of circumstances). Further, a claim is frivolous under Section 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) “if it is ‘without arguable merit either in law or fact.'” Napier v. Preslicka, 314 F.3d 528, 531 (11th Cir. 2002) (quoting Bilal v. Driver, 251 F.3d 1346, 1349 (11th Cir. 2001)).

         Whether a complaint fails to state a claim under Section 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is governed by the same standard applicable to motions to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Thompson v. Rundle, 393 F. App'x 675, 678 (11th Cir. 2010). Under that standard, this Court must determine whether the complaint contains “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A plaintiff must assert “more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not” suffice. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Section 1915 also “accords judges not only the authority to dismiss a claim based on an indisputably meritless legal theory, but also the unusual power to pierce the veil of the complaint's factual allegations and dismiss those claims whose factual contentions are clearly baseless.” Bilal, 251 F.3d at 1349 (quoting Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989)).

         In its analysis, the Court will abide by the long-standing principle that the pleadings of unrepresented parties are held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys and, therefore, must be liberally construed. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); Boxer X v. Harris, 437 F.3d 1107, 1110 (11th Cir. 2006) (“Pro se pleadings are held to a less stringent standard than pleadings drafted by attorneys.”) (emphasis omitted) (quoting Hughes v. Lott, 350 F.3d 1157, 1160 (11th Cir. 2003)). However, Plaintiff's unrepresented status will not excuse mistakes regarding procedural rules. McNeil v. United States, 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993) (“We have never suggested that procedural rules in ordinary civil litigation should be interpreted so as to excuse mistakes by those who proceed without counsel.”).

         DISCUSSION

         I. Dismissal Of Plaintiff's Claims Due to Untimeliness

         Plaintiff's Complaint concerns the investigation underlying his shooting in 1999 and the subsequent medical care for his injuries. (Doc. 4.) Plaintiff's submission of this Complaint eighteen years after his shooting calls into question the timeliness of his Complaint. Because 42 U.S.C. § 1983 does not contain a limitations period, federal courts “borrow” the applicable state's statute of limitations for personal injury actions. Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 387 (2007). 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). In states where more than one statute of limitations exists, the forum state's general or residual personal injury statute of limitations applies to all Section 1983 actions filed in federal court in that state. Owens v. Okure, 488 U.S. 235, 236, 249-50 (1989). 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. Additionally, “[t]o dismiss a prisoner's complaint as time-barred prior to service, 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.'” Hughes v. Lott, 350 F.3d 1157, 1163 (11th Cir. 2003) (quoting Leal v. Ga. Dep't of Corr., 254 F.3d 1276, 1280 (11th Cir. 2001) (alterations in original)).

         Plaintiff signed his original Complaint on June 6, 2017, and it was filed in this Court on June 16, 2017. (Doc. 1.) Thus, given the two years' limitation period, the earliest operative date for assessing the timeliness of Plaintiff's Complaint is June 6, 2015. Any claims that accrued before that date (or ...


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