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Gough v. Calvert County Detention Center

United States District Court, D. Maryland

April 20, 2016

JOHN V. GOUGH, JR. Plaintiff
v.
CALVERT COUNTY DETENTION CENTER MISTY BELL CAPTAIN KEVIN CROSS[1] ANN UENO[2] PHYSICIAN’S ASSISTANT DOE JOHN DOE 1, Guard JOHN DOE 2, Guard Defendants v.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

DEBORAH K. CHASANOW United States District Judge.

Defendants Cross, Ueno and Bell have filed Motions to Dismiss (ECF Nos. 31, 33 and 35) which are opposed by Plaintiff John V. Gough, Jr. (ECF No. 36, 37 and 40). Cross and Ueno have filed replies to Gough’s opposition responses. (ECF Nos. 41 and 43). A hearing is unnecessary for resolution of the Motions. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2014). For the following reasons, Defendants’ motions shall be DENIED and the parties shall be given additional time to file further papers.

Procedural History

Gough, a resident of the District of Columbia, filed this civil rights action in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia on October 28, 2014, [3] seeking money damages.[4] (ECF No. 1- 3, p. 1). His allegations center around the treatment allegedly received during confinement at the Calvert County Detention Center (“CCDC”). Gough stated that he was subjected to “violation of first amendment rights (religious persecution), ” “inhumane treatment” and “drug experimentation, ” denial of “proper medication (medical and mental)” and “attempted murder” as defined by District of Columbia law. Id.

Counsel for CCDC promptly removed the case to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia and remitted the civil filing fee. (ECF No. 1-2). After providing Gough an opportunity to amend his complaint (ECF Nos. 7 and 8), the District of Columbia district court transferred the case here. (ECF No. 20). On October 20, 2015, the court dismissed CCDC and ordered Gough to supplement his complaint. (ECF No. 23). Gough did so, naming additional Defendants involved in his alleged mistreatment and indicating the events outlined in his papers occurred between September 21 and October 21, 2011. (ECF No. 24 at 1-2, ¶ 4; ECF No. 25 at 3-4, ¶ 4). A similar complaint, Gough v. Calvert County Detention Center, et al., Civil Action No. DKC-15-3434 (D. Md.), was consolidated for the purpose of preliminary review and docketed as a second amended complaint here. (ECF No. 26). Following service of process, Defendants Bell, Cross and Ueno moved to dismiss the complaint as untimely filed.

Plaintiff’s Allegations

Liberally construed, the complaint sounds in tort (for medical negligence or malpractice), with additional claims suggesting violations of civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In his amended complaint, Gough states that Cross and Bell encouraged him to eat rather than partake in a religious fast, and placed a “tally sheet” on his door so that a log could be kept if he decided to eat. He further notes that he was threatened with transfer to another facility if he continued to fast and required forced feeding.[5] ECF No. 8 at 2. As noted in an Order dated October 20, 2015 (ECF No. 23), these actions do not constitute religious persecution in violation of the First Amendment and are not at issue here.

Gough also stated in his amended complaint that because he decided to fast, “they” (presumably Cross and Bell) placed him in a cold room and handcuffed him to a steel bench, where he stayed for two days without a pillow, blanket or mattress. (ECF No. 8 at p. 2). This claim was permitted to proceed and Gough was ordered further to supplement his claim to name the individuals who subjected him to those conditions, as well as set forth what injury he incurred as a result of this incident.[6] Gough did so in his second amended complaint. (ECF No. 26).

Gough specified that the events of which he complained occurred between September 21, 2011 and October 1, 2011, while he was detained at CCDC. (ECF No. 25 at p. 4; ECF No. 37 at p. 2). He indicates that Defendant Ueno provided medication to other detainees but refused to provide him with same. (ECF No. 37 at 2). He states he delayed filing his lawsuit because he thought the statute of limitations already had expired, and because injury sustained during an unrelated encounter with law enforcement officials caused “loss of memory.”[7] (ECF No. 36 at 2).

Defendants’ Response

All named Defendants moved to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). While each offers a plethora of arguments for dismissal, each agrees that the complaint, received in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia prior to its transfer and removal, was filed outside the applicable statute of limitations. (ECF No. 31-1 at pp. 11-12; ECF No. 33 at p. 3; ECF No. 35-1 at p. 2).

Analysis

The filing of a complaint outside the statute of limitations is an affirmative defense to be pleaded and proved by a defendant.[8] Here, all Defendants raise the limitations defense, citing Gough’s November 20, 2015 submission, docketed as a second supplement to the amended complaint. (ECF No. 31-1 at p. 6; ECF No. 33 at 1, adopting argument set forth in ECF No. 31-1; ECF No. 35-1 at pp. 3-4 and 7-8).

While there is no express period of limitations in the Civil Rights Act, federal courts generally apply the most appropriate state statute of limitations to a claim filed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S. 261 (1985); Burnett v. Grattan, 468 U.S. 42 (1984); Cox v. Stanton, 529 F.2d 47, 49-50 (4th Cir. 1975). Maryland’s general three-year statute of limitations for ...


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