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Harvey v. Cline

United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia, Charleston

August 1, 2017



          John T. Copenhaver, Jr. United States District Judge.

         Pending is defendants J.G. Cline, Shane Woodrum, and Timothy Browning's Motion to Dismiss for Expiration of the Statute of Limitations, filed on December 9, 2016 (ECF No. 49).

         I. Factual and procedural background

         The court recited the pertinent factual allegations in its orders of April 18, 2016, and July 1, 2016, and only a brief recapitulation is provided here.

         On September 29, 2013, plaintiff David Matthew Harvey was incarcerated at West Virginia's Southwestern Regional Jail. Defendants J.G. Cline, Shane Woodrum, and Timothy Browning, as well as now-dismissed defendants Tyler Nelson and Robert S. Castle (collectively, “defendants”), worked there as guards. Plaintiff claims that on September 29 and 30, 2013, defendants “either physically assaulted [him] . . . or . . . failed to intervene and prevent the other [d]efendants from doing the same.” Compl. ¶¶ 23-27.

         On September 15, 2015, plaintiff, by counsel, sent a certified letter to various state officials advising them that plaintiff was considering a civil action, based on the foregoing allegations. See Id. ¶¶ 9-11. Thirty days later, on October 15, 2015, plaintiff initiated this action with the filing of his three-count complaint.

         Count 1 of the complaint seeks redress under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of plaintiff's Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Id. ¶¶ 67-72. Count 2 alleges violations of analogous rights protected by the West Virginia constitution. Id. ¶¶ 73-80. Count 3 charges the defendants with common law negligence. Id. ¶¶ 81-84. Plaintiff brings this action against the defendants in their individual capacities only. Id. ¶¶ 4-8 (noting that each defendant “is sued only in his individual capacity”).

         The dismissed defendants, Tyler Nelson and Robert S. Castle, both submitted motions to dismiss. The court granted Nelson's motion in an opinion entered on April 18, 2016 (ECF No. 37), and granted Castle's motion in an opinion entered on July 1, 2016 (ECF No. 41). The court granted both motions on the same grounds, the rulings on which are incorporated herein.

         On December 9, 2016, the remaining defendants, Cline, Woodrum, and Browning, jointly filed the pending motion to dismiss, reiterating the same arguments raised by the two dismissed defendants. In brief, the pending motion asserts that Harvey's claims are time-barred because the complaint was filed more than two years after the conduct is alleged to have occurred. Plaintiff filed his response on December 22, 2016, reiterating the same objections raised on the previous motions to dismiss, with the exception of one new argument regarding statutory interpretation elaborated on below.

         II. Standard governing motions to dismiss

         Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires that a pleader provide “a short and plain statement of the claim showing . . . entitle[ment] to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2); see also Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007). The required “short and plain statement” must provide “‘fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 545 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957), overruled on other grounds, Twombly, 550 U.S. at 563); see also Anderson v. Sara Lee Corp., 508 F.3d 181, 188 (4th Cir. 2007). Rule 12(b)(6) correspondingly permits a defendant to challenge a complaint when it “fail[s] to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. . . .” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).

         Application of the Rule 12(b)(6) standard requires that the court “‘accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint. . . .'” Erickson, 551 U.S. at 94 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-56); see also S.C. Dept. of Health and Envt'l Control v. Commerce and Indus. Ins. Co., 372 F.3d 245, 255 (4th Cir. 2004) (same principle) (quoting Franks v. Ross, 313 F.3d 184, 192 (4th Cir. 2002)). The court must likewise “draw[] all reasonable . . . inferences from th[e] facts in the plaintiff's favor. . . .” Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 244 (4th Cir. 1999). At minimum, in order to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, “a complaint must contain 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 Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570); see also Monroe v. City of Charlottesville, 579 F.3d 380, 386 (4th Cir. 2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).

         III. ...

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