United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Greeneville
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
is an inmate proceeding pro se in a civil rights action
alleging a violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Defendants Bob
Hogan, Jason Phillips, and Craig Henderson have filed a joint
motion to dismiss this action as barred by the statute of
limitations [Doc. 27]. Plaintiff has submitted a reply in
opposition to the motion [Doc. 34]. Having fully considered
the parties' arguments and the applicable law, the Court
finds that Defendants' motion to dismiss will be
GRANTED, for the reasons that follow.
or July of 2017, while Plaintiff was housed at the Cocke
County Jail, he “had words” with Officer Jason
Phillips over a mat that was confiscated during a shakedown
[Doc. 2 p. 4]. Phillips, along with two other officers,
entered Plaintiff's cell, grabbed him by the throat,
slammed him on the ground, and handcuffed him with his hands
behind his back [Id.]. Officer Phillips then sprayed
him with pepper spray and punched him repeatedly in the face
while Officer Henderson punched and kicked Plaintiff
[Id.]. Plaintiff alleges that three of his teeth
were broken in the process [Id.].
Plaintiff was placed in a restraint chair for over three
hours, after which officers placed him in the drunk tank to
heal [Id.]. Plaintiff later filled out numerous sick
call requests and was refused medical attention by Jail
Administrator, Bob Hogan [Id. at 5].
MOTION TO DISMISS STANDARD
survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must “state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007)). A claim for relief is plausible on its face
“when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows
the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant
is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id.
However, where it is apparent on the face of a complaint that
the plaintiff's suit is time-barred, judgment on the
pleadings in favor of the defendants is proper. See,
e.g., Phelps v. McClellan, 30 F.3d 658, 662 (6th Cir.
district courts apply the State's statute of limitations
for personal injury actions in proceedings arising under 42
U.S.C. § 1983. See Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S.
384, 387 (2007). In Tennessee, that period is one year.
See Tenn. Code Ann. § 28-3-104; Panzica v.
Corr. Corp. of Am., 559 Fed.Appx. 461, 463 (6th Cir.
2014) (applying Tennessee's one-year statute of
limitations in prisoner's § 1983 claim). When the
statute begins to run, however, is an issue of federal law.
Eidson v. State of Tenn. Dep't of Children's
Servs., 510 F.3d 631, 635 (6th Cir. 2007) (citations
omitted). Under federal law, a cause of action accrues, and
the limitations period begins to run, when the injury forming
the basis of the claim is discoverable. See Friedman v.
Estate of Presser, 929 F.2d 1151, 1159 (6th Cir. 1991)
(citing Sevier v. Turner, 742 F.2d 262, 273 (6th
apparently conceding he did not timely file his lawsuit,
Plaintiff argues that he did not see a dentist until 2018,
which is when he learned of the seriousness of his injury
[Doc. 34 p. 2]. Therefore, he claims, the statute of
limitations should not be triggered until 2018
[Id.]. However, Plaintiffs complaint alleges that he
was slammed to the ground, handcuffed, pepper-sprayed, and
punched, thereby “breaking off three of his teeth and
swelling his face up, ” right before he was placed in a
restraint chair for three hours and denied medical treatment
upon removal from the restraint chair [Doc. 2 p. 4-5].
Therefore, it is clear from Plaintiffs allegations that he
immediately knew of the injuries that formed the basis for
this action. Nevertheless, he did not file this lawsuit
within a year of those alleged injuries, but rather, waited
until November 2018 to pursue this litigation [See
Doc. 2 p. 6]. Accordingly, Plaintiffs allegations are
time-barred, and Defendants are entitled to dismissal.
reasons set forth herein, Defendants' motion [Doc. 27]
will be GRANTED, and this action will be
DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
the Court will CERTIFY that any appeal from
this decision would not be taken in good faith, and that
Plaintiff should be DENIED leave to ...