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Esparza v. Platz

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

June 18, 2018

JOSEPH A. ESPARZA, Plaintiff,
v.
PLATZ, IPPLE, MULLEN, PERKINS, CORIZON MEDICAL CARE, WEXFORD MEDICAL, Defendants.

          ENTRY DISMISSING COMPLAINT AND DIRECTING FILING OF AMENDED COMPLAINT

          TANYA WALTON PRATT, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         I. Screening Standard

         Plaintiff Joseph A. Esparza is an Indiana state prisoner confined at the New Castle Correctional Facility. He alleges that his medical providers have been deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs. Because the plaintiff is a “prisoner” as defined by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(h), this Court has an obligation under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b) to screen his complaint before service on the defendants. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), the Court must dismiss the complaint if it is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim for relief, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. In determining whether the complaint states a claim, the Court applies the same standard as when addressing a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). See Lagerstrom v. Kingston, 463 F.3d 621, 624 (7th Cir. 2006). To survive dismissal,

[the] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face. 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.

Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

         To state a cognizable claim under the federal notice pleading system, the plaintiff is required to provide a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that [he] is entitled to relief[.]” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). It is not necessary for the plaintiff to plead specific facts, and his statement need only “give the defendant fair notice of what the ... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)); see Christopher v. Buss, 384 F.3d 879, 881 (7th Cir. 2004). However, a complaint that offers “labels and conclusions” or “formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). The complaint allegations “must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; Christopher, 384 F.3d at 881.

         Pro se complaints such as that filed by the plaintiff are construed liberally and held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. Obriecht v. Raemisch, 517 F.3d 489, 491 n.2 (7th Cir. 2008).

         II. Dismissal of Complaint

         A. Statute of Limitations

         The complaint is brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the violation of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States and must show that the alleged deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). Suits under § 1983 use the statute of limitations and tolling rules that states employ for personal-injury claims. In Indiana, the applicable statute of limitations period is two years. See Richards v. Mitcheff, 696 F.3d 635, 637 (7th Cir. 2012); Ind. Code § 34-11-2-4.

         This action was signed on April 19, 2018, and filed on April 26, 2018. Accordingly, claims which accrued before April 19, 2016, are barred by Indiana's 2-year statute of limitations. “It is, of course, ‘irregular' to dismiss a claim as untimely under Rule 12(b)(6). . . . However, . . . dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) on the basis of a limitations defense may be appropriate when the plaintiff effectively pleads [himself] out of court by alleging facts that are sufficient to establish the defense.” Hollander v. Brown, 457 F.3d 688, 691 n.1 (7th Cir. 2006) (internal citations omitted); see also Koch v. Gregory, 536 Fed.Appx. 659 (7th Cir. 2013) (stating that when the language of the complaint plainly shows that the statute of limitations bars the suit, dismissal under § 1915A is appropriate); Brownmark Films, LLC v. Comedy Partners, 682 F.3d 687, 690 (7th Cir. 2012).

         This means that claims based on a March 2013 car accident, a 2013 “scope for Barits”, an X-ray delayed until March 2016, and immobility caused by back pain which occurred in 2014, are dismissed as barred by the statute of limitations.

         B. Deliberate Indifference

         Prison officials violate the Eighth Amendment when they are deliberately indifferent to the serious medical needs of prisoners. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976). To establish a deliberate-indifference claim, a prisoner must demonstrate both that his medical condition is “objectively” serious and that the officials acted with a “sufficiently culpable state of mind.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834-35, (1994). “[A] prison official cannot be found liable ...


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