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Sherman v. Stanton

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division

June 8, 2018

ROSLYN A. SHERMAN Plaintiff,
v.
DANIEL STANTON and MULTNOMAH COUNTY BOARD OF PAROLE AND POST PRISON SUPERVISION, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS TO DISMISS

          MICHAEL W. MOSMAN CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Roslyn A. Sherman is proceeding pro se in this civil rights action. Defendants Daniel Stanton and the Oregon Board of Parole and Post-Prison Supervision (Board)[1] have each filed motions to dismiss Ms. Sherman's Amended Complaint on the grounds that the two-year statute of limitations bars her claims for relief and that she fails to allege any personal involvement by either defendant in the alleged deprivations of her civil rights. Defendant Board also argues that it is immune from suit under the Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution. The parties have fully briefed the motions, and for the reasons discussed below, I GRANT Defendants' motions [16 and 18] and dismiss Ms. Sherman's claims with prejudice.

         I. Background

         Ms. Sherman filed this lawsuit on October 20, 2017. [2]. I dismissed her Complaint without service for failure to state a claim because, among other things, she had failed to allege how former Multnomah County Sheriff Daniel Stanton personally participated in the deprivation of her civil rights and the Eleventh Amendment immunized the Board from lawsuits. [5]. I granted Ms. Sherman leave to file an amended complaint, and she did so on December 29, 2017. [9].

         In her Amended Complaint, Ms. Sherman brings claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and appears to allege violations of her Fourteenth Amendment right to due process and her Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. [9]. Specifically, she claims that in 2012 she was taken into custody based on an erroneous allegation that she had not completed her Volunteers of America post-prison supervision program and that she was denied a hearing. [Id. at p. 4]. Ms. Sherman asserts that she was deprived of a hearing because of her race. [Id.]. She also appears to allege that she was denied adequate medical care because she did not receive "opioids and pain medication for her broken right shoulder and back pain." [Id. at p. 5].

         II. Legal Standards

         Court must liberally construe documents filed by pro se litigants, and must hold a pro se complaint, "however inartfully pleaded, " to a "less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (citations omitted). Cf. Fed. Rule Civ. Proc. 8(e) ("Pleadings must be construed as to do justice"). The rule, however, "applies only to a plaintiffs factual allegations." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 330 n.9 (1989). '"[A] liberal interpretation of a civil rights complaint may not supply essential elements of the claim that were not initially pled.'" Bruns v. Nat'l Credit Union Admin., 122 F.3d 1251, 1257 (9th Cir. 1997) (quoting Ivey v. Bd. of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982)).

         A motion to dismiss brought under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) challenges the legal sufficiency of a complaint. Ileto v. Glock, Inc., 349 F.3d 1191, 1199-1200 (9th Cir. 2003). While a plaintiff need not plead specific facts in support of any claim to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, she must allege facts that establish "more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully" and "raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Put another way, a claim for relief must be plausible, not just possible. Id. In determining whether a plaintiff has stated a plausible claim for relief, a judge must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint. Id.

         III. Discussion

         A. Statute of Limitations

         Defendants argue Ms. Sherman's Amended Complaint fails to state claims against them upon which relief can be granted because her claims are barred by the statute of limitations. I agree with respect to Ms. Sherman's Fourteenth Amendment claims. Civil rights claims brought under § 1983 are subject to a two-year statute of limitations. Sain v. City of Bend, 309 F.3d 1134, 1139 (9th Cir. 2002).

         In her Amended Complaint, Ms. Sherman alleges that the events giving rise to her claims occurred in 2012. [9 at p. 5]. She also states that she litigated the claims at issue in this lawsuit in a habeas case filed in Multnomah County on April 14, 2015, meaning that the events at issue occurred before April 2015. [Id. at p. 7 and 16, Exhibit 1]. Accordingly, at the latest, the two-year statute of limitations for the claims at issue in Ms. Sherman's Amended Complaint expired in April 2017. She did not file this lawsuit until five months later, on October 20, 2017. [2].

         In the memorandum she filed in response to Defendants' motions to dismiss, Ms. Sherman clarifies that she challenges her placement in county custody on October 1, 2015, and asserts that "[t]he [statute of limitations] clock re-started on September 5, 2017, " the effective date of the Court of Appeals' Judgment in Ms. Sherman's habeas case. This argument does not persuade me that the statute of limitations has not run on her Fourteenth Amendment claim. The two-year statute of limitations started running when Ms. Sherman's claim "accrued." Lukovsky v. City and Cty. of San Francisco, 535 F.3d 1044, 1048 (9th Cir. 2008). Ms. Sherman's claim about being taken into custody without due process (in this case a hearing) "accrued" when she knew or had reason to know of the injuries that formed the basis for her claims. Id. The habeas case that Ms. Sherman filed in Multnomah County on April 14, 2015 challenged her October 1, 2015 placement in county custody. [16, Exhibit 1]. Accordingly, Ms. Sherman knew or had reason to know of the injuries that formed the basis for the Fourteenth Amendment claims in this lawsuit on or before April 14, 2015. The effective date of the appellate Judgement in her habeas case does not "re-set" the date that Ms. Sherman's claims accrued. Accordingly, I find the two-year statute of limitation on 42 U.S.C. § 1983 cases bars Ms. Sherman's Fourteenth Amendment claims.

         I cannot, however, conclude on the basis of the record before me that the two-year statute of limitations bars Ms. Sherman's Eighth Amendment claims. If Ms. Sherman was placed in custody on October 1, 2015, it is possible that she experienced the denial of pain medication on dates after October 20, 2015, and claims for Eighth Amendment violations ...


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