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McWaters v. Thomason

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

March 4, 2019

LAUREN E. McWATERS, Plaintiff,
v.
JUDGE MICHELLE HART THOMASON, Defendant.

          RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          STEPHEN M. DOYLE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         On February 8, 2018, Plaintiff filed a complaint in this court against Judge Michelle Hart Thomason, alleging that Judge Thomason denied her mother court appointed counsel in a case in which Plaintiff was a dependent. (Doc. 1) at 1. Plaintiff listed the address of Judge Thomason as Bay Minette, Alabama, and noted that the place of her alleged civil rights violations occurred in Baldwin County, Alabama. Id. Because the named defendant is alleged to reside in Bay Minette, Alabama, and because Plaintiff's purported civil rights violations occurred in Baldwin County, Alabama-both of which are outside of the Middle District of Alabama-the undersigned finds venue to be improper. Because Plaintiff's claims, even if filed in the appropriate court, are time-barred, the undersigned recommends that this case be dismissed.

         I. DISCUSSION

         Twenty-eight U.S.C. § 1391, which sets forth venue generally, states that a civil action may be brought in:

(1) a judicial district in which any defendant resides, if all defendants are residents of the State in which the district is located;
(2) a judicial district in which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred, or a substantial part of property that is the subject of the action is situated; or
(3) if there is no district in which an action may otherwise be brought as provided in this section, any judicial district in which any defendant is subject to the court's personal jurisdiction with respect to such action.

28 U.S.C. § 1391(b).

         Here, the events giving rise to Plaintiff's claim occurred in Baldwin County, Alabama. (Doc. 1) at 1. Baldwin County, Alabama, is located in the Southern District of Alabama, Southern Division. 28 U.S.C. § 81(c)(2). The address of the defendant-as listed by Plaintiff in her complaint-is also located within the Southern District, Southern Division.[1] (Doc. 1) at 1. Thus, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(1) and (2), Plaintiff's action is properly asserted in the Southern Division of the Southern District of Alabama-not in the Middle District of Alabama where it was filed.

         Because the original venue in which Plaintiff filed her complaint was not proper, 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a) is the appropriate statute that governs the disposition of Plaintiff's case. Section 1406(a) states:

The district court of a district in which is filed a case laying venue in the wrong division or district shall dismiss, or if it be in the interest of justice, transfer such case to any district or division in which it could have been brought.

Thus, pursuant to the statute, this court may transfer Plaintiff's case to the Southern District, Southern Division, or this court may dismiss Plaintiff's case. Typically, transfers afforded “in the interest of justice” occur when the running of the statute of limitations would preclude the filing of a new suit in the proper district. See, e.g., Goldlawr, Inc. v. Heiman, 369 U.S. 463 (1962).

         Here, Plaintiff claims that the events giving rise to her claims occurred on December 6, 2005. (Doc. 1) at 1. The complaint also includes a notation the undersigned believes to reference Plaintiff's mother's state court case: “RH v. DN 206115 10-10-2008.” Id. Although the undersigned is not certain, it is likely that “10-10-2008” is a date related to that case, which is the basis of Plaintiff's suit. Assuming momentarily that Plaintiff could assert some type of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim for violations of her federal constitutional rights, such a claim would be time-barred. This is because the statute of limitations for a § 1983 claim is two years, and the limitations period begins to run when the plaintiff knows or has reason to know that she has suffered an injury and who has inflicted that injury. See Johnson v. City of Bessemer, 180 F.Supp.3d 1013, 1023 (N.D. Ala. 2016) (citing Chappell v. Rich, 340 F.3d 1279, 1283 (11th Cir. 2003)). Plaintiff's injury occurred, by her own assertion, in 2005 or, at the latest, 2008. Clearly, Plaintiff knew, or should have known, at that time who inflicted her injury. Yet, Plaintiff waited until February 6, 2018, to file suit. As such, Plaintiff's complaint is time-barred based upon any actions taken by Judge Thomason occurring prior to February 8, 2016.

         Because Plaintiff's complaint is time-barred, the undersigned finds no reason to transfer the case to the Southern District. Instead, the undersigned finds that ...


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