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Sharpp v. Keeling

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

February 12, 2018

DAVID SHARP, Plaintiff,



         This matter comes before the Court on the Report and Recommendation (“Report”) (Doc. 36) of Magistrate Judge Donald G. Wilkerson with regard to the defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim (Doc. 28). The Court may accept, reject, or modify-in whole or in part-the findings or recommendations of the magistrate judge in a report and recommendation. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3). The Court must review de novo the portions of the report to which objections are made. Id. “If no objection or only partial objection is made, the district court judge reviews those unobjected portions for clear error.” Johnson v. Zema Sys. Corp., 170 F.3d 734, 739 (7th Cir. 1999). Here, no party has filed an objection, but the entire Report does not withstand a review for clear error.

         I. BACKGROUND

         David Sharp is an inmate with a history of mental health and brain issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder. (Am. Compl. 2, Doc. 17.) These issues appear to be related to his former service with the U.S. Army, and Sharp states that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs was treating him for these health issues. (Id. at 2-3.) Nevertheless, in December 2013, the police arrested Sharp following an incident and detained him at Wabash County Jail pending resolution of the corresponding criminal charge. (Id. at 3.) On December 28, 2013-shortly after his detention began-Sharp went on a hunger strike and formulated a plan to kill himself with a broken shard of glass. (Id. at 3.) But when Sharp saw his father at a court hearing a few weeks later on January 7, 2014, he changed his mind, turned over the shard of glass, and told corrections officer Lynette Henze about his plan. (Id.)

         Over the next few months, Sharp's wife brought his medications to the jail so that Sharp could continue his prescribed treatment. Those medication refills ran out in May 2014. Sharp then asked Sheriff Joe Keeling to arrange an appointment with a doctor so that he could refill his prescriptions, but after Keeling allegedly refused the request, Sharp was forced off his medications. (Id.)

         In June 2014, the authorities transferred Sharp to Chester Mental Health Center (“Chester”) so that the facility could assess Sharp's fitness to stand trial. Sharp stayed at Chester until September 2014, and that facility wrote him a new prescription for his medications. Sharp refused to take them, however, because he believed he would go into withdrawal when he returned to Wabash County Jail. Ultimately, the Illinois Department of Corrections took custody of Sharp and removed him from the jail in December 2014. (Id.)

         In September 2016, Sharp brought a deliberate indifference to medical needs claim in this Court against Keeling and an unknown “Jane Doe” defendant, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 1983. (Compl., Doc. 1.) Sharp amended that complaint in February 2017 to substitute Henze for the “Jane Doe” defendant. (Am. Compl., Doc. 17.) Now, the defendants have moved to dismiss the amended complaint on the grounds that (1) the statute of limitations bars Sharp's claim, and (2) Sharp's claim against Henze in the amended complaint cannot relate back to the initial complaint. (Mot. to Dismiss, Doc. 28.)


         When reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court accepts as true all allegations in the complaint. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). To avoid dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim, a complaint must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). This requirement is satisfied if the complaint: (1) describes the claim in sufficient detail to give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests, and (2) plausibly suggests that the plaintiff has a right to relief above a speculative level. Bell Atl., 550 U.S. at 555; see Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); EEOC v. Concentra Health Servs., 496 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir. 2007). A claim is facially plausible “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Bell Atl., 550 U.S. at 556). This is a context-specific task that invokes the Court's “judicial experience and common sense.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.

         III. ANALYSIS

         As an initial matter, the Court must clarify the applicable legal standards in this case. While the Report correctly notes that the defendants seek dismissal here pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the Report also states several times that the defendants are seeking summary judgment. This Court affirms that the defendants are seeking a 12(b)(6) dismissal, not summary judgment.

         i. Defendant Joe Keeling

         With respect to defendant Keeling, the Report first acknowledges that the “only dates relevant to the deliberate indifference claim are those prior to Sharp's transfer to Chester.” (R. & R. 6, Doc. 36.) These dates are important because they govern when the cause of action started to accrue in this case, which then implicates when the statute of limitations expired. See Devbrow v. Kalu, 705 F.3d 765, 768 (7th Cir. 2013) (for Section 1983 deliberate indifference claims, the claim accrues “when a person knows his injury and its cause.”). But then, the Report concludes that Keeling's argument fails because the complaint does not state which specific day in June Sharp was transferred to Chester Mental Health Center. (R. & R. 6, Doc. 36.) The Report believes that the specific day is necessary to determine whether the statute of limitations has run here.

         The Report's hair-splitting on this issue is unnecessary. According to the complaint, the statute of limitations on Sharp's claim started to accrue sometime in June 2014. The statute of limitations on a Section 1983 claim in Illinois is two years. Gekas v. Vasiliades, 814 F.3d 890, 894 (7th Cir. 2016). Sharp filed this action in September 2016-over two years after the claim started to accrue regardless of ...

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