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Cashion v. Lee

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Harrisonburg Division

November 8, 2017

JACK LEE, et al., Defendants.


          Michael F. Urbanski Chief United States District Judge

         This matter comes before the court on defendant Middle River Regional Jail Authority's ("MRRJA") Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim, ECF No. 30, which seeks dismissal of Count III of plaintiff Alvion Cashion's ("Cashion") First Amended Complaint for Monetary Damages and Equitable Relief (the "FAC"), ECF No. 26. MRRJA argues that Claim III, the only claim pled against it, is time barred or, in the alternative, MRRJA is entitled to sovereign immunity. As MRRJA's statute of limitations defense requires adjudication of Count IV of the FAC, in which Cashion asks the court to declare that Virginia Code § 8.01-243.2 violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the court will also decide Count IV. For the reasons described below, the court GRANTS MRRJA's motion to dismiss, DISMISSES Counts III and IV of the FAC WITH PREJUDICE, and DENIES AS MOOT MRRJA's Motion to Submit Supplemental Authority, ECF No. 47.

         I. Background

         Cashion's initial Complaint for Monetary Damages (the "Complaint"), ECF No. 1, sought damages against defendants MRRJA, Jack Lee ("Lee"), in his individual capacity as superintendent of MRRJA, and Dr. Moises Quinones ("Quihones"), in his individual capacity as a doctor at MRRJA.[1] Cashion alleged that Lee unlawfully instituted a policy of denying antipsychotic prescription medication to inmates. FAC ¶ 13. Quinones allegedly knew that Cashion had a severe mental illness and been prescribed certain antipsychotic medication. Because of Lee's policy, however, Cashion claims that Quinones never prescribed that medication or ensured that Cashion would be evaluated by another qualified medical professional. FAC ¶¶ 33, 38.

         Notably, Cashion was incarcerated at MRRJA from approximately October 17, 2015 through December 11, 2015. FAC ¶ 28. Cashion filed his Complaint on January 31, 2017. MRRJA filed a Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 19, contending that Cashion's claims against MRRJA were time barred by Virginia Code § 8.01-243.2, which prescribes a one-year statute of limitations for claims "relating to the conditions of [a prisoner's] confinement." Va. Code § 8.01-243.2 Because Cashion filed suit on January 31, 2017, more than one year after Cashion was last allegedly denied antipsychotic medication, MRRJA argued that his claims against it were untimely.

         Rather than aver that a different statute of limitations applies to his claims, Cashion contends that Virginia Code § 8.01-243.2 offends the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Cashion filed the FAC, which added Count IV, a claim seeking declaratory judgment that Virginia Code § 8.01-243.2 is unconstitutional and appropriate injunctive relief.

         Cashion also filed a notice under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 5.1, which notified the Commonwealth of Virginia of his challenge to the constitutionality of Virginia Code § 8.01-243.2. MRRJA renewed its motion to dismiss, and Virginia intervened to defend the constitutionality of Virginia Code § 8.01-243.2.

         II. Standard of Review

         MRRJA moves to dismiss Count III under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim.[2] Rule 12(b)(6) permits a dismissal when a plaintiff fails "to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient "facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The complaint's "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id. at 555.

         A court must construe factual allegations in the nonmoving party's favor and will treat them as true, but is "not so bound with respect to [a complaint's] legal conclusions." Dist. 28. United Mine Workers of Am.. Inc. v. Wellmore Coal Corp.. 609 F.2d 1083, 1085 (4th Cir. 1979). Indeed, a court will accept neither "legal conclusions drawn from the facts" nor "unwarranted inferences, unreasonable conclusions, or arguments." E. Shore Mkts.. Inc. v. J.D. Assocs. Ltd. P'ship. 213 F.3d 175, 180 (4th Cir. 2000). Further, "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Only after a claim is stated adequately may it then "be supported by showing any set of facts consistent with the allegations in the complaint." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 563.

         A statute of limitations defense "must be raised by the defendant through an affirmative defense, and the burden of establishing the affirmative, defense rests on the defendant." Goodman v. Praxair, Inc., 494 F.3d 458, 464 (4th Cir. 2007) (internal citations omitted). When "facts sufficient to rule on an affirmative defense are alleged in the complaint, the defense may be reached by a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). Id. These facts, however, must "clearly appear[] on the face of the complaint." Richmond. Fredericksburg & Potomac R.R. Co. v. Forst. 4 F.3d 244, 250 (4th Cir. 1993).

         III. Virginia Code § 8.01-243.2

         MRRJA contends, and Cashion does not contest, that Virginia Code § 8.01-243.2 governs the applicable limitations period for Count III. Virginia Code § 8.01-243.2 provides:

No person confined in a state or local correctional facility shall bring or have brought on his behalf any personal action relating to the conditions of his confinement until all available administrative remedies are exhausted. Such action shall be brought by or on behalf of such person within one year after cause of action accrues or within six ...

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