United States District Court, D. Maryland
W. Grimm, United States District Judge
Plaintiff Warren Michael Griffin, an inmate currently housed
at North Branch Correctional Institution ("NBCI")
in Cumberland, Maryland, filed a 42 U.S.C. S 198~ civil
rights complaint for damages against Defendants, Warden Frank
Bishop, Chief of Security William Bohrer, Sergeant Robert
Warner, Sergeant William Gillum, CO II Stacy Miller, CO II
Michael Vanmeater, CO II Cory Dolly, and Case Manager Richard
Herbold. ECF No. .. Griffin claims that on
February 26, 2014, he was attacked by another inmate at NBCI.
Id. at 2. According to Griffin, Defendants had
actual knowledge of the foreseeable imminent dangers and
failed to use reasonable care to provide for his safety, in
violation of his constitutional rights. Id. at 4-8.
before this Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss or, in
the Alternative, for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 13, for which
they provided a Memorandum in Support, ECF No. 13-1.
Defendants primarily argue that Griffin's claims must be
dismissed because they are time-barred by the statute of
limitations. Defs.' Mem. 11. Pursuant to this Court's
Order dated February 5, 2018, Griffin filed a Response
addressing the statute of limitations issue. ECF No. 19. This
Court deems a hearing unnecessary. See Loc. R. 105.6
(D. Md. 2016). For reasons set forth below, Defendants'
motion, construed as a Motion to Dismiss, shall be granted.
seek to dismiss Griffin's action pursuant to Rule
12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. In
reviewing a complaint in light of a motion to dismiss
pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the Court accepts all well-pleaded
allegations of the complaint as true and construes the facts
and reasonable inferences derived therefrom in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff. Venkatraman v. REI Sys.,
Inc., 417 F.3d 418, 420 (4th Cir. 2005); Ibarra v.
United States, 120 F.3d 472, 474 (4th Cir. 1997). 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.'"
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Bell Ail. Corp. v. Twombty, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007)). "A claim has facial plausibility 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. Although
courts should construe pleadings of self-represented
litigants liberally, Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S.
89, 94 (2007), unsupported legal conclusions and conclusory
factual allegations devoid of any reference to actual events,
do not suffice, Revene v. Charles Cty. Comm'rs,
882 F.2d 870, 873 (4th Cir. 1989); United Black
Firefighters of Norfolk v. Hirst, 604 F.2d 844, 847 (4th
Defendants assert that Griffin's claims are time-barred
by the statute of limitations. See Defs.' Mem.
11. In response, Griffin contends that Defendants'
argument is made in bad faith, as his claims were brought
"well within the limit." Pl.'s Opp'n 1-2.
According to Griffin, the three-year clock began to run on
May 6, 2016, when a final judgment was entered in his state
court appeal of the inmate grievance he filed, and thus his
Complaint, filed on June 27, 2017, was timely. See
is no federal statute of limitations for actions under §
1983, and it is well-settled that the limitations period for
§ 1983 claims is to be determined by the analogous state
law statute of limitations. See Wallace v. Kato, 549
U.S. 384, 387 (2007); Burnett v. Grattan, 468 U.S.
42, 49 (1984). In Maryland, the applicable statute of
limitations is three years from the date of the occurrence.
See Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc, §
5-101. Under Maryland law, the statute of limitations is
strictly construed. Hecht v. Resolution Tr. Corp.,
635 A.2d 394, 399 (Md. 1994) ("Absent legislative
creation of an exception to the statute of limitations, we
will not allow any 'implied and equitable exception to be
engrafted upon it.'" (quoting Booth Glass Co. v.
Huntingfield Corp., 500 A.2d 641 (Md. 1985))).
state law provides the controlling limitations period,
"[t]he time of accrual of a section 1983 action is
governed by federal law, and the claim accrues when the
affected party knew or should have known of the injury that
is the basis of the action." Halle Dev., Inc. v.
Anne Arundel Cty., 121 Fed.Appx. 504, 507 (4th Cir.
2005). Under federal law, a statute of limitations may be
tolled for equitable reasons, but only in "those rare
instances where - due to circumstances external to the
party's own conduct - it would be unconscionable to
enforce the limitation period against the party and gross
injustice would result." Rouse v. Lee, 339 F.3d
238, 246 (4th Cir. 2003) (en banc) (citing Harris v.
Hutchinson, 209 F.3d 325, 330 (4th Cir. 2000)).
Equitable tolling is unavailable to a plaintiff who has not
been diligent in protecting his or her rights; rather, the
plaintiff must establish that he or she has been prevented
from asserting those rights. See Am. Pipe & Constr.
Co. v. Utah, 414 U.S. 538, 555 (1974). And, under the
prison mailbox rule, an action under § 1983 is commenced
for the purpose of meeting the statute of limitations when
the complaint is delivered to prison staff for mailing and is
no longer under the plaintiffs dominion and control. See
Houston v. Lack, 487 U.S. 266, 276 (1988); Lewis v.
Richmond City Police Dept., 947 F.2d 733, 736 (4th Cir.
Griffin states that he was attacked by another inmate on
February 26, 2014. Compl. 2. His Complaint, dated June 20,
2017, was stamped as "outgoing inmate mail" on June
23, 2017, ECF No. 1-5, and filed in this Court on June 27,
2017, more than four months after the three-year statute of
limitations expired on February 26, 2017, and he neither
shows nor argues that he delivered it to prison staff for
mailing more than four months before it was filed.
argues that it would have been futile to file suit earlier,
as Defendants would have argued that he failed to exhaust his
administrative remedies. Pl.'s Opp'n 1. Yet, Griffin
could have filed suit and then asked the Court to stay the
action while he exhausted his administrative remedies, as the
Fourth Circuit has "readily ordered a stay of an ongoing
federal action pending exhaustion of administrative or state
proceedings, particularly to avoid statute of limitations
problems." Aikens v. Ingram,652 F.3d 496, 502
(4th Cir. 2011). Moreover, he exhausted his administrative
remedies as of May 6, 2016, but did not file suit until June
27, 2017, more than a year later. Thus, the running of the
limitations period before Griffin filed suit is "the
result of his mismanagement of the action and his ...