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Owens v. Lamb

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

June 13, 2019

JAMES OWENS, Plaintiff,
v.
WARDEN LAMB, LT MCARTHY, AMY ULREY, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          STACI M. YANDLE United States District Judge

         This matter is before the Court on the Report and Recommendation (“Report”) of United States Magistrate Judge Reona J. Daly (Doc. 72), recommending that Defendant Amy Ulrey's Motion to Dismiss for failure to state a claim (Doc. 61) be granted. Plaintiff James Owens filed a timely objection to the Report (Doc. 73) and a Supplement (Doc. 74). For the following reasons, Judge Daly's Report is ADOPTED.

         Background

         On June 27, 2017, Plaintiff James Owens filed a Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C §1983 alleging that his constitutional rights were violated by a Jane Doe Nurse and others beginning on October 24, 2015 (Doc. 1). Specifically, Owens alleges he sought help from the Jane Doe Nurse on October 30, 2015 for a painful condition in his hip and leg but that she refused to provide adequate medical care (Doc. 1, p. 4).

         Upon this Court's review of the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, Plaintiff was permitted to proceed on an Eighth Amendment claim that Jane Doe Nurse was deliberately indifferent to his medical needs from October 24, 2015 to February 22, 2016 (Doc. 5). The Screening Order also provided:

Plaintiff will also be allowed to proceed with Count 1 against the unknown defendant who is referred to as “Nurse Jane Doe.” However, this defendant must be identified with particularity before service of the Complaint can be made on her. Where a prisoner's Complaint states specific allegations describing conduct of individual prison staff members sufficient to raise a constitutional claim, but the names of those defendants are not known, the prisoner should have the opportunity to engage in limited discovery to ascertain the identity of those defendants. Rodriguez, 577 F.3d at 832. In this case, Warden Lamb is already named as a defendant in his or her official capacity only, and shall be responsible for responding to discovery aimed at identifying this unknown defendant. Guidelines for discovery will be set by the United States Magistrate Judge. Once the name of Defendant Nurse Jane Doe is discovered, Plaintiff shall file a motion to substitute this newly identified defendant in place of the generic designations for her in the case caption and throughout the Complaint.

(Doc. 5, pp. 11-12).

         On October 16, 2017, Judge Daly set a deadline of September 20, 2018 for identifying the John/Jane Doe parties through an Amended Complaint (Doc. 21). Owens did not file an Amended Complaint by the deadline. Therefore, on September 25, 2018, Judge Daly issued an Order to show cause why the Jane Doe Nurse should not be dismissed for failure to prosecute (Do. 47). Owens was then granted additional time to file an Amended Complaint (Doc. 50), [1] and he did so on November 8, 2018, naming Amy Ulrey as the Jane Doe Nurse (Doc. 53). The Amended Complaint is identical to the original Complaint except that “Jane Doe” is crossed out and Ulrey's name is written in.

         Subsequently, Defendant Ulrey filed a Motion to Dismiss, arguing that Owens' claim is barred by the statue of limitations (Doc. 62). In response, Owens argues that Ulrey was aware of the claim against her and that he had requested information regarding her identity from Warden Lamb on August 24, 2017 but had received no response (Doc. 65). He further argues that Defendants engaged in fraudulent concealment in preventing him from discovering Ulrey's name.

         On December 11, 2018, Judge Daly issued a Report setting forth the applicable law and her conclusions. She found that Owens' claim accrued on February 22, 2016, that he was required to file an Amended Complaint naming Ulrey by February 22, 2018, and that therefore, his November 8, 2018 Amended Complaint was filed too late. Judge Daly also concluded that Owens could not benefit from the relation back provision of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(c) or the doctrine of fraudulent concealment. Thus, Judge Daly recommended that Owens' claim against Ulrey be dismissed as time-barred.

         Discussion

         Because Owens filed an objection, the undersigned will undertake a de novo review of the Report. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), (C); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b); SDIL-LR 73.1(b); see also Govas v. Chalmers, 965 F.2d 298, 301 (7th Cir. 1992). De novo review requires the Court to “give fresh consideration to those issues to which specific objections have been made” and to make a decision “based on an independent review of the evidence and arguments without giving any presumptive weight to the magistrate judge's conclusion.” Mendez v. Republic Bank, 725 F.3d 651, 661 (7th Cir. 2013).

         To survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6), a Complaint must “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Lodholtz v. York Risk Servs. Group, Inc., 778 F.3d 635, 639 (7th Cir. 2015) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). “[W]hen ruling on a defendant's motion to dismiss, a judge must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). The Court must also draw all reasonable inferences and facts in favor of the plaintiff. See Vesely v. Armslist LLC, 762 F.3d 661, 664 (7th Cir. 2014).

         A statute of limitations defense is an affirmative defense that would not typically be asserted in a motion to dismiss. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(c). However, “the statute of limitations may be raised in a motion to dismiss if ‘the allegations of the complaint itself set forth everything necessary to satisfy the affirmative defense.'” Brooks v. Ross, 578 ...


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