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Robinson v. Grazyk

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

August 13, 2019

DION ROBINSON, Plaintiff,
v.
BRIAN GRAZYK and COOK COUNTY, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          VIRGINIA M. KENDALL JUDGE

         Plaintiff Dion Robinson alleges he was sexually assaulted by a correctional officer at Cook County Jail. Robinson brings a Section 1983 claim and state-law claims for assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The correctional officer, Brian Grazyk, now moves to dismiss the state-law claims because they are untimely. For the reasons stated here, the Court grants Grazyk's motion to dismiss [Dkt. 26] and dismisses Robinson's assault (Count II) and intentional infliction of emotional distress (Count III) claims with prejudice because they are time-barred.

         BACKGROUND

         The following factual allegations are taken from the First Amended Complaint (Dkt. 22) and are assumed true for purposes of this motion. W. Bend Mut. Ins. Co. v. Schumacher, 844 F.3d 670, 675 (7th Cir. 2016).

         Plaintiff Dion Robinson currently resides at Cook County Jail. (Dkt. 22 ¶ 4.) On January 27, 2017, Defendant Brian Grazyk, a correctional officer at Cook County Jail, entered Robinson's cell while Robinson was asleep. (Id. ¶¶ 5, 9.) Grazyk then placed his hand on Robinson's penis and “move[d] his hand along Robinson's penis in an up and down motion” without Robinson's consent. (Id. ¶ 9.) Robinson woke up, got out of bed, and protested Grazyk's conduct. (Id. ¶ 11.) Grazyk told Robinson that he would make another incident report against Robinson unless Robinson stayed silent about the incident. (Id. ¶ 12.) Grazyk left Robinson's cell, but returned soon after, locked the cell, and told Robinson to remember what he had told him. (Id. ¶¶ 12-13.)

         Robinson reported the sexual assault to another correctional officer that day and submitted a written grievance form titled Inmate Grievance Form dated January 27, 2017. (Id. ¶ 15, see also Dkt. 22-1.) Robinson never received a written response to the January 27, 2017 grievance form. (Id. ¶ 15.) On January 31, 2017, Robinson completed a second written grievance form titled Complaint Register and submitted it to the Sheriff's Office of Cook County Office of Professional Review. (Id. ¶ 16, see also Dkt. 22-2.) Robinson never received a written response to the January 31, 2017 Complaint Register. (Id. ¶ 16.) In May 2017, Robinson was moved to a different division in the jail and submitted a third written grievance form. (Id. ¶ 17.) On June 12, 2018, an Office of Professional Review employee interviewed Robinson. (Id.) Robinson gave the employee a copy of the third written grievance form during the interview. (Id.) Robinson never received a written response to the third written grievance form after the June 2018 interview. (Id.)

         Robinson filed this suit pro se on May 8, 2018, over 15 months after the sexual assault. (Dkt. 1.) Robinson's original complaint includes claims for “sexual abuse/harassment” and violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Dkt. 1 at 1, 7.) The Court appointed counsel for Robinson on January 8, 2019. (Dkt. 16.) Robinson, through his Court-appointed counsel, filed an amended complaint on April 23, 2019 bringing claims for Section 1983 violations (Count I), assault (Count II), and intentional infliction of emotional distress (Count III). (Dkt. 22.)

         LEGAL STANDARD

         The purpose of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) is to test the legal, not factual, sufficiency of a complaint. See Szabo v. Bridgeport Mach., Inc., 249 F.3d 672, 675-76 (7th Cir. 2001). Statute of limitations defenses are “not often resolved on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion because ‘a complaint need not anticipate and overcome affirmative defenses, such as the statute of limitations.'” Amin Ijbara Equity Corp. v. Vill. of Oak Lawn, 860 F.3d 489, 492 (7th Cir. 2017) (quoting Cancer Found., Inc., v. Cerberus Capital Mgmt., LP, 559 F.3d 671, 674 (7th Cir. 2009)). “But dismissal at this early stage is appropriate when the complaint alleges facts sufficient to establish that the suit is indeed tardy.” Id.

         DISCUSSION

         Grazyk moves to dismiss the state-law assault and IIED claims as time-barred. The parties do not dispute that both state-law claims are subject to the one-year statute of limitations in the Illinois Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act. 745 ILCS 10/8-101; see also Williams v. Lampe, 399 F.3d 867, 870 (7th Cir. 2005) (while Section 1983 claims in Illinois are subject to a two-year limitations period, the Immunity Act's “one-year period applies to state-law claims that are joined with a § 1983 claim”).

         Robinson argues, however, that the one-year limitations period for his state-law claims was tolled while he exhausted his administrative remedies as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a), and, alternatively, that the limitations period should be equitably tolled because Cook County Jail failed to directly respond to his grievances. Grazyk argues in response (1) that the PLRA's exhaustion requirement applies only to Robinson's Section 1983 claim, not to his related state-law claims, so the state-law claims were not tolled, and (2) that Robinson has not identified any circumstances that call for equitable tolling. Grazyk is correct on both accounts.

         I. Administrative Exhaustion Under the PLRA

         There is no express statute of limitations in Section 1983, so federal courts adopt the forum state's statute of limitations rules. Johnson v. Rivera, 272 F.3d 519, 521 (7th Cir. 2001). In Illinois, the limitations period for Section 1983 claims is two years. Id. Federal courts also borrow state tolling rules. Id. In Illinois, limitations periods are tolled if “the commencement of an action is stayed by an injunction, order of court, or statutory prohibition.” Id. (citing 735 ILCS 5/13-216). In the case of Section 1983 claims, such a statutory prohibition exists-the PLRA, which requires plaintiffs to exhaust administrative remedies before filing suit. Id. (citing 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a)). So “a ...


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