United States District Court, D. Maryland
DEBORAH K. CHASANOW UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
response to this civil rights claim filed by self-represented
Plaintiff Roger Lee Shifflette, Defendant Joseph B. Anzalone
moves to dismiss the complaint because it fails to state a
claim and is time-barred. ECF No. 12. Plaintiff opposes the
motion. ECF No. 17. No. hearing is necessary to address the
matters pending. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2018).
For the reasons that follow, Defendant's motion will be
filed this civil rights complaint on July 9, 2018, asserting
that he was released from “Baltimore Co. Detention
Center Medical Dept. on August 28, 2008 without much required
Psychotropic Anti-Psychotic Medications.” ECF No. 1 at
p. 2. As a result, Plaintiff claims that he suffered severe
withdrawal symptoms that included “erratic
behavior” that led to his arrest and his present
incarceration. Id. According to Plaintiff,
Joseph B. Anzalone, who is the only named Defendant, was
“the lead/head Medical Liaison” for the Baltimore
County Detention Center Medical Department. Id.
relief, Plaintiff seeks nine-million dollars in monetary
damages for “medical negligence” committed by the
Medical Department to compensate him for nine years of
incarceration. Id. at p. 3.
reviewing the complaint in light of a motion to dismiss
pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 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) (citing Mylan Labs., Inc. v.
Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993)); Ibarra
v. United States, 120 F.3d 472, 473 (4th Cir. 1997).
Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires
only a “short and plain statement of the claim showing
that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Migdal v.
Rowe Price-Fleming Int'l Inc., 248 F.3d 321, 325-26
(4th Cir. 2001); see also Swierkiewicz v. Sorema
N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 513 (2002) (stating that a complaint
need only satisfy the “simplified pleading
standard” of Rule 8(a)).
Supreme Court of the United States explained a
“plaintiff's obligation to provide the
‘grounds' of his ‘entitlement to relief'
requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not
do.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544,
555 (2007) (internal citations omitted). Nonetheless, the
complaint does not need “detailed factual
allegations” to survive a motion to dismiss.
Id. at 555. Instead, “once a claim has been
stated adequately, it may be supported by showing any set of
facts consistent with the allegations in the
complaint.” Id. at 563. 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, 677-78 (2009) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). “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.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. “But where the
well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than
the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged
-- but it has not ‘show[n]' -- ‘that the
pleader is entitled to relief.'” Id. at
679 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).
a claim has been stated adequately, it may be supported by
showing any set of facts consistent with the allegations in
the complaint.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 563
(citing Sanjuan v. Am. Bd. of Psychiatry and Neurology,
Inc., 40 F.3d, 247, 251 (7th Cir. 1994)) (once a claim
for relief has been stated, a plaintiff ‘receives the
benefit of imagination, so long as the hypotheses are
consistent with the complaint').
statute of limitations is an affirmative defense that must be
raised by a defendant, who also has the burden of
establishing the defense. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(c), Goodman v.
Praxair, Inc., 494 F.3d 458, 464 (4th Cir.
It follows, therefore, that a motion to dismiss filed under
Federal Rule of Procedure 12(b)(6), which tests the
sufficiency of the complaint, generally cannot reach the
merits of an affirmative defense, such as the defense that
the plaintiff's claim is time-barred. But in the
relatively rare circumstances where facts sufficient to rule
on an affirmative defense are alleged in the complaint, the
defense may be reached by a motion to dismiss filed under
Rule 12(b)(6). This principle only applies, however, if all
facts necessary to the affirmative defense “clearly
appear[ ] on the face of the complaint.” Richmond,
Fredericksburg & Potomac R.R. v. Forst, 4 F.3d 244,
250 (4th Cir.1993) (emphasis added); accord
Desser v. Woods, 266 Md. 696, 296 A.2d 586, 591 (1972).
primarily asserts that the complaint must be dismissed
because it is time-barred. ECF No. 12. “Section 1983
provides a federal cause of action, but in several respects
relevant here, federal law looks to the law of the State in
which the cause of action arose. This is so for the length of
the statute of limitations: it is that which the State
provides for personal-injury torts.” Wallace v.
Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 387 (2007) (citing Owens v.
Okure, 488 U.S. 235, 249-50 (1989)). 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. The three-year 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. Hutcherson, 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 &