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Minor v. Jackson

United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division

November 20, 2018

JOHN H. MINOR, Plaintiff,
v.
JUDGE JOHN H. JACKSON, III, et. al, Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Susan Russ Walker, United States Magistrate Judge

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff, who is proceeding pro se, filed this action on November 17, 2016, bringing claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Americans with Disability Act (“ADA”). (Doc. 1 at pp. 7 and 15). In his complaint, Plaintiff alleges that the defendants' failure to return his prescription medications to him upon his release from jail caused him to be involved in an automobile accident in which he suffered property damage and personal injury. (Doc. 1 at pp. 4 and 5). He seeks money damages for these alleged injuries. (Doc.1 at p. 4). He names as Defendants Judge John H. Jackson, the City of Clanton Police Department, the Chief of Police and his jailer. (Doc. 1 at pp. 4 and 6). He further alleges that the acts underlying his claims occurred “July 2013 through Nov. 2013 on till Jan. 2014.” (Doc. 1 at p. 16)

         On June 1, 2018, this Court entered an Order granting Plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. 9). In forma pauperis proceedings are governed by 28 U.S.C. § 1915, which requires this court to conduct a preliminary review of the complaint to ensure the action is not “frivolous or malicious, ” “fails to state a claim on which relief can be granted, ” or “seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). Accordingly, the Court now conducts such a review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915.

         II. Discussion

         Because Plaintiff proceeds pro se, the court will liberally construe the allegations of his complaint. See Alba v. Montford, 517 F.3d 1249, 1252 (11th Cir. 2008). Additionally, “[a] pro se plaintiff ‘must be given at least one chance to amend the complaint before the district court dismisses the action with prejudice' at least where a more carefully drafted complaint might state a claim.” See Carter v. HSBC Mortg. Serv., 622 Fed. App'x 783, 786 (11th Cir. 2015) (emphasis in original) (citing Bank v. Pitt, 928 F.2d 1008, 1112 (11th Cir. 1991), overruled in part by Wagner v. Daewoo Heavy Indus. Am. Corp., 314 F.3d 541, 542 (11th Cir. 2002) (en banc)). Where it is futile for a plaintiff to file an amended complaint because “a more carefully drafted complaint could not state a claim, ” there is no need to allow plaintiff to amend. Id. For the reasons set forth in this Recommendation, the Court concludes it would be futile in this instance for Plaintiff to be given an opportunity to amend.

         A. § 1983 claims

         Plaintiff brings claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that the defendants violated his Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights when they failed to return his prescription medications to him upon his release from jail. He maintains that this failure caused him to be involved in a car accident in which he suffered property damage and personal injury. (Doc. 1 at pp. 4, 5, 15). The acts underlying his claims occurred “July 2013 through Nov. 2013 on till Jan. 2014.” (Doc. 1 at p. 16). It is clear from the complaint that Plaintiff challenges the constitutionality of actions which, as he specifically acknowledges, took place at the earliest in July 2013, and at the latest in January 2014.

All constitutional claims brought under § 1983 are tort actions, subject to the statute of limitations governing personal injury actions in the state where the § 1983 action has been brought. Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S. 261, 275-76, 105 S.Ct. 1983, 1946-47, 85L.Ed.2d 254 (1985) [The plaintiff's] claims was brought in Alabama where the governing limitations period is two years. Ala. Code § 6-2-38; Jones v. Preuit & Mauldin, 876 F.2d 1480, 1483 (11th Cir. 1989) (en banc). Therefore, in order to have his claim heard, [the plaintiff is] required to bring it within two years from the date the limitations period began to run.

McNair v. Allen, 515 F.3d 1168, 1173 (11th Cir. 2008). Because Plaintiff filed his complaint on November 17, 2016, the Court concludes that his § 1983 claims - all of which, by his own admission, occurred prior to November 17, 2014 - are barred by the two-year statute of limitations applicable to a federal civil action brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 1 at p. 16).

         Plaintiff requests tolling of the statute of limitations “on grounds accident was Oct 2013 but it was May 2014 had surgery on neck. My mentle [sic] stability was gone. Could not walk or use hands.” (Doc. 1-1 p.2). However, even if the court adopts the Plaintiff's alleged May, 2014 date for tolling, Plaintiff's claims still clearly fall outside the two-year bar. McNair, 515 F.3d at 1173. Moreover, Plaintiff does not allege that he meets the 19-year-old or the insanity requirements under the tolling provision. Ala. Code § 6-2-8(a). Accordingly, the Court concludes that the tolling provision does not suspend the two-year statute of limitations applicable to Plaintiff's constitutional claims.

         B. ADA claim

         Plaintiff also brings a claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), specifically invoking that act and saying, “[u]nder ADA I request accommodation to file this properly.” (Doc. 1 at p. 16). Rather than alleging that Defendants have failed to accommodate his disability in some way, Plaintiff appears to ask the Court for relief pursuant to the ADA in filing this civil action. This allegation fails on its face.

         However, for purposes of this §1915 review, the Court will assume that Plaintiff has stated an ADA claim. The statute of limitations for an ADA claim is two years. Horsley v. Univ. of Ala. 564 Fed. App'x. 1006, 1007 (11th Cir. 2014) (citing Ala Code § 6-2-38(1)). This period begins to run when “plaintiff[] knew or should have known that … [he] suffered injury.” Id. (citing Chappell v. Rich,340 F.3d 1279, 1283 (11th Cir. 2003)). The allegations on “the face of the complaint” control. La Grasta v. First Union Secs., Inc., 358 F.3d 840, 845 (11th Cir. 2004). Plaintiff states in his complaint that the facts underlying his claims occurred in “July 2013 through Nov. 2013 on till Jan. 2014.” (Doc. 1 at p. 16). Thus, Plaintiff's ADA claim is barred by the two-year statute of limitations. Horsley, 564 Fed. App'x at 1008. Further, Plaintiff fails to allege any facts which might permit equitable tolling. Id. at 1009 (“[E]quitable tolling typically requires some affirmative misconduct, such as fraud, misinformation, or ...


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