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Gough v. Calvert County Detention Center

United States District Court, D. Maryland

June 8, 2016

JOHN V. GOUGH, JR. Plaintiff


          DEBORAH K. CHASANOW United States District Judge

         On April 20, 2016, this court denied motions to dismiss filed by Defendants Cross, Ueno and Bell (ECF Nos. 31, 33 and 35) subject to renewal as motions for summary judgment. (ECF Nos. 44 and 45). Defendants have filed motions for summary judgment (ECF Nos. 46, 48 and 51) which are opposed by Plaintiff John V. Gough, Jr. (ECF Nos. 53, 54 and 55). Defendants have filed replies. (ECF Nos. 56, 57 and 58). A hearing is unnecessary for resolution of the case. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2014). For the following reasons, the dispositive motions shall be GRANTED[1] and this case closed.

         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, [2] seeking money damages.[3] (ECF No. 1 3, p. 1). His allegations centered around the treatment he allegedly received during confinement at the Calvert County Detention Center ("CCDC"). Gough stated, in toto, 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 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a).[4] (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 pleadings 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 the service of process, Defendants Bell, Cross and Ueno moved to dismiss the complaint as untimely filed. As noted, these motions were denied without prejudice to permit resubmission of motions for summary judgment to include additional materials outside the pleadings and to provide Gough an additional opportunity to respond.

         Plaintiff’s Allegations

         Liberally construed, the complaint sounded 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 cannot proceed here.

         Gough also stated in his amended complaint that because he decided to fast, he was placed in a cold room and handcuffed 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 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). He also reiterates his allegations against the Defendants and requests additional money damages in his second opposition response, as supplemented.[8] (ECF Nos. 53, 54 and 55).

         Defendants’ Response

         All named Defendants move for summary judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 54.[9]While each offers a plethora of arguments for dismissal or judgment, 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. 46-1 at pp. 10-11; ECF No. 49 at pp. 10-12; ECF No. 51 at pp. 9-12).


         The filing of a complaint outside the statute of limitations is an affirmative defense to be pleaded and proved by a defendant.[10] 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 ...

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