United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Macon Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
STEPHEN HYLES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
pending before the Court is Defendant Tiameka Steele's
motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 18). For the reasons
stated below, the Court recommends that Defendant's
motion be granted.
2013, Plaintiff was placed into the Dekalb County, Georgia
Jail on charges on burglary. Attach. to Am. Compl. 1, ECF No.
7-1. On May 13, 2014, the Superior Court of Dekalb County
sentenced him to six years imprisonment on the charge, and he
was eventually transferred to Baldwin State Prison
(“BSP”) in 2014. Compl. 1, ECF No. 1; Am. Compl.
1, ECF No. 7; Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. A, at 4, ECF
No. 18-3; Attach. to Am. Compl. 1. Plaintiff was released
from BSP on November 17, 2015. See Def.'s Mot.
for Summ. J., Ex. A, at 2. On March 19, 2018, Plaintiff filed
various claims for relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983
against multiple BSP officials. See generally Compl.
3, 5; Attach. to Am Compl. 1.
preliminary review, the Court dismissed all claims without
prejudice except Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment excessive
force claim against Defendant Steele. See Order
Adopting R & R. 1-2, ECF No. 12. On March 19, 2019,
Defendant Steele moved for summary judgment, arguing
Plaintiff failed to file his claim within the applicable
statute of limitations. Br. in Supp. of Def.'s Mot. for
Summ. J. 1, ECF No. 18-1. On June 28, 2019, the Court ordered
Plaintiff to respond to Defendant's motion by July 11,
2019. Order for Resp. 1, ECF No. 20. Plaintiff attempted to
respond in three filings: (1) a two-line affidavit on July
15, 2019, (2) “exhibits” concerning
Plaintiff's prison grievances on July 30, 2019, and (3)
an assault report form on July 31, 2019. See Watson
Aff. 1, ECF No. 21; Pl.'s Exs., ECF No. 22; Assault
Report Form, ECF No. 23. All three documents were untimely
filed. Thus, they will not be considered as
responses to Defendant's motion. On August 8, 2019, the
Court ordered Defendant to supplement the record to address
potential tolling of the state of limitations for the time
Plaintiff spent exhausting administrative remedies. Order
1-2, ECF No. 24. Defendant supplemented the record
accordingly on August 27, 2019. Def.'s Resp. to Court
Order 1-5, ECF No. 25; Lumpkin Decl., ECF No. 25-1.
Defendant's motion is now ripe for review.
Summary Judgment Standard
judgment may be granted only “if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In determining whether a genuine dispute
of material fact exists, the evidence is viewed in the light
most favorable to the party opposing summary judgment,
drawing all justifiable inferences in the opposing
party's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). A fact is material if it is
relevant or necessary to the outcome of the suit.
Id. at 248. A factual dispute is genuine if the
evidence would allow a reasonable jury to return a verdict
for the nonmoving party. Id.
Undisputed Material Facts
in 2014, Plaintiff was incarcerated at BSP. Attach. to Am.
Compl. 1; Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. A, at 2, 4. On
June 25, 2015, Plaintiff filed formal grievance number 19887,
which was categorized as “physical force.”
Lumpkin Decl. ¶ 5, Attach. 2, at 20-22; see
also Attach. to Am. Compl. 1 (“Grievances were
filed on all the complaints.”). In this grievance,
Plaintiff alleges that he “was assaulted by Lt. Prosser
and [Defendant] CO Steele.” Lumpkin Decl. Attach. 2, at
20-22. The assault allegedly took place on “May
10th.” Id. Plaintiff's grievance states
that after being escorted to “M-2, ” Defendant
Steele “slapped [Plaintiff] in the face . . . then she
threatened [Plaintiff] that she'll hit [Plaintiff] with
the radio.” Id. The grievance alleges that
Defendant Steele “called a code and Lt. Prosser came
down and handcuffed [Plaintiff].” Id.
According to the grievance, Defendant Steele and Lt. Prosser
“slammed [Plaintiff] against the door[, ] then pepper
sprayed [Plaintiff] twice[, ] then kicked, punched and kneed
[Plaintiff] in the face.” Id. Plaintiff signed
and acknowledged a notice that his grievance had been
forwarded to the Georgia Department of Corrections Internal
Investigations Unit on June 26, 2015. Lumpkin Decl. Attach 3,
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment
Steele moves for summary judgment, arguing that Plaintiff
filed his complaint after the applicable statute of
limitations (“SOL”). Br. in Supp. of Def.'s
Mot. for Summ. J. at 1. As explained below, Plaintiff's
claim is indeed barred by the applicable SOL.
well settled that the forum state's limitation period
applicable to personal injury actions is applied to an action
brought pursuant to § 1983. Wallace v. Kato,
549 U.S. 384, 386 (2007). The Georgia SOL for personal injury
is two years. O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33; see also Bell v.
Metro. Atlanta Rapid Transit Auth., 521 Fed.Appx. 862,
865 (11th Cir. 2013) (“The forum state's statute of
limitations for personal injury actions applies to §
1983 claims, which in Georgia is two years.”). A SOL
begins to run when a cause of action accrues-in other words,
when “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.” Lovett
v. Ray, 327 F.3d 1181, 1182 (11th Cir. 2003) (internal
quotation marks and citation omitted).
time a plaintiff spends exhausting administrative remedies
may toll the SOL. See Leal v. Ga. Dep't of
Corr., 254 F.3d 1276 (11th Cir. 2001) (vacating district
court's dismissal of a § 1983 suit on SOL grounds
because it was possible plaintiff's exhaustion of
administrative remedies had tolled the limitations period);
Clark v. Fye, 5:18-cv-71, 2019 WL 1354405 at *3-4
(M.D. Ga. Mar. 26, 2019) (denying a motion to dismiss on SOL
grounds where defendants failed to show that the limitations
period had not been tolled by plaintiff's pursuit of a
prison grievance). Nonetheless, when an inmate files a
grievance concerning sexual assault or excessive force which
is forwarded to Internal Investigations, the inmate has
exhausted administrative remedies, and “the grievance