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Chrisco v. Gibson

United States District Court, D. Colorado

August 9, 2019



          Michael E. Hegarty, United States Magistrate Judge.

         Before the Court is Defendant Donald Gibson's Motion to Dismiss. ECF 70. Defendant seeks dismissal of Plaintiff Luke Chrisco's four remaining claims related to Defendant's alleged use of four-point restraints and involuntary administration of medication. Defendant argues these claims are barred by the two-year statute of limitations for § 1983 claims. For the reasons that follow, the Court agrees and grants Defendant's motion.


         I. Statement of Facts

         The following are relevant factual allegations (as opposed to legal conclusions, bare assertions, or merely conclusory allegations) made by Plaintiff in his Complaint (ECF 5), which are taken as true for analysis under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) pursuant to Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

         At all times relevant to the remaining claims, Plaintiff was incarcerated at the San Carlos Correctional Facility (“SCCF”) in the Colorado Department of Corrections (“CDOC”). Compl., ECF 5. On July 30, 2015, Plaintiff sprayed water out of his shower onto the floor of the unit. Id. ¶ 79. SCCF officials removed him from the shower and placed him in restraints. Id. ¶ 80. Plaintiff then took ten milligrams of Zyprexa at the request of SCCF staff. Id. ¶¶ 80-81. Captain Larimore accused Plaintiff of having “cheeked” his medication. Id. ¶ 82. As a result, a nurse administered an intramuscular injection of Halidol. Id. ¶ 83. This caused Plaintiff to suffer radial nerve pain and anxiety. Id. ¶ 84.

         On July 31, 2015, Plaintiff was placed on a mental health watch (“MHW”) and put in restraints. Id. ¶ 1. When Plaintiff complained that the restraints were too tight, various nurses and guards drafted false reports stating that he was being aggressive. Id. ¶¶ 4-5. As a result, Defendants placed Plaintiff on a table in “four-point restraints” from August 2, 2015 through August 4, 2015. Id. ¶¶ 5-6. Plaintiff was placed in these restraints pursuant to a CDOC policy that required staff to review the need for restraints after four hours, then again every twenty-four hours. Id. ¶¶ 30-33. However, in practice, SCCF medical staff assessed inmates only after twenty-four hours. Id. ¶ 33. Defendant finally removed the restraints after Plaintiff promised he would stop filing lawsuits and grievances. Id. ¶ 60.

         II. Procedural History

         Although Plaintiff initiated this case on July 24, 2017 by filing a document titled “Notice, ” ECF 1, [1] he did not assert claims against Defendant Gibson (among other former Defendants) until he filed his Complaint on August 14, 2017. Compl., ECF 5. Relevant to the argument raised in the present motion, Plaintiff deposited his Complaint in the SCCF mail system on August 8, 2017. Id. at 29. Plaintiff alleges six causes of action, but only claims three, four, five, and six, all brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, pertain to Defendant Gibson. In his third cause of action, Plaintiff alleges an Eighth Amendment claim against Defendant for restraining him from July 31, 2015 through August 4, 2015. Id. ¶¶ 51-70. Plaintiff's fourth claim alleges a First Amendment violation and contends that Defendant placed him in restraints in retaliation for lawsuits he filed. Id. ¶¶ 72- 78. Claim five alleges Defendant violated the Eighth Amendment by force-medicating Plaintiff on July 30, 2015. Id. ¶¶ 79-88. Plaintiff's sixth claim asserts Defendant violated the First Amendment by medicating him by force in retaliation for filing lawsuits. Id. ¶¶ 86-88.

         Defendant did not appear in this case (through his counsel) until May 23, 2018, after the filing of the former Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint. ECF 44. This Court granted the motion on July 27, 2018, leaving Gibson as the sole remaining Defendant. ECF 53. On September 26, 2018, Plaintiff filed a “Stipulated Motion for an Administrative Stay Toward Settlement.” ECF 54. This motion was granted and a stay imposed on October 5, 2018. ECF 55-57. On February 25, 2019, Defendant filed a status report advising that the CDOC had rejected Plaintiff's settlement proposals. ECF 63. On March 21, 2019, the Court ordered Defendant to file an answer or other response to the Complaint on or before April 4, 2019. ECF 68.

         On April 4, 2019, Defendant filed the present motion arguing the applicable two-year statute of limitations bars Plaintiff's remaining claims. ECF 70. Plaintiff filed a response to the motion on April 17, 2019 asking the Court to equitably toll the statute of limitations. Resp., ECF 71. According to Plaintiff, he was prevented from timely finishing his complaint “due to being moved to another prison and deprived of his papers in the process until August 6, 2017.” Id. at 1. Plaintiff asserts this removal and confiscation of legal materials constituted exceptional circumstances, which requires equitable tolling. Defendant replied to Plaintiff's response on May 1, 2019 emphasizing that Plaintiff has failed to meet his burden to invoke equitable tolling. ECF 72. Defendant states he did not commit any wrongful conduct preventing Plaintiff from asserting his claims in a timely manner, nor did exceptional circumstances prevent Plaintiff from filing the claims.


         I. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)

         The purpose of a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) is to test the sufficiency of the plaintiff's complaint. Sutton v. Utah State Sch. For the Deaf & Blind, 173 F.3d 1226, 1236 (10th Cir. 2008). “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). Plausibility, in the context of a motion to dismiss, means that the plaintiff pled facts which allow “the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. Twombly requires a two-prong analysis. First, a court must identify “the allegations in the complaint that are not entitled to the assumption of truth, ” that is, those allegations which are legal conclusions, bare assertions, or merely conclusory. Id. at 679. ...

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