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PARAMO v. SANTA CLARA COUNTY

United States District Court, Northern District of California


February 3, 2003

FREDDIE LEE PARAMO, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SANTA CLARA COUNTY, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Maxine M. Chesney, United States District Judge.

ORDER OF DISMISSAL; DENYING APPLICATION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS (Docket No. 4)
Plaintiff Freddie Lee Paramo, an inmate at Santa Clara County Jail, filed this pro se civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on January 6, 2003. Plaintiff alleges that in 1997, while an inmate at the Elmwood Facility of the Santa Clara County Jail, he injured himself when he tripped over a section of concrete pavement that allegedly was not level.

A federal court must conduct a preliminary screening in any case in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). In its review, the court must identify any cognizable claims and dismiss any claims that are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted or seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See id. at § 1915A(b)(1), (2). Pro se pleadings must, however, be liberally construed. See Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1988).

Plaintiff's claims are barred by the statute of limitations. The limitations period for § 1983 claims is that of the forum state's statute of limitations for personal injury torts. See Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S. 261, 276 (1985). In California, this period is one year. See Elliott v. City of Union City, 25 F.3d 800, 802 (9th Cir. 1994) (holding, in California cases, statute of limitations for § 1983 claims in one year). The one-year period is subject to tolling. See id.

Incarceration tolls the statute of limitations for a maximum period of two years. See Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 352.1(a). Thus, even assuming plaintiff has been incarcerated continuously since the date of his accident, plaintiff is entitled to, at most, two years of tolling based on such incarceration. The effect of such tolling, as a practical matter, is that the statute of limitations on a claim based on conditions of confinement for a prisoner who has been incarcerated since the date the claim accrued is three years from accrual.

A § 1983 claim accrues when the plaintiff knows or has reason to know of the injury that is the basis of the action. See Elliott, 25 F.3d at 802. Here, the allegations in the complaint make clear that plaintiff knew of the allegedly faulty pavement and his consequent injury when he tripped over the pavement in 1997. As this event occurred substantially more than three years ago, plaintiff's claims must be dismissed as untimely, even allowing for the maximum amount of tolling for incarceration.

For the foregoing reasons, this action is DISMISSED as barred by the statute of limitations.

In light of this dismissal, the application to proceed in forma pauperis is DENIED.

The clerk shall close the file.

This order terminates docket number 4 and all other pending motions.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

JUDGMENT IN A CIVIL CASE

Decision by Court. This action came to trial or hearing before the Court. The issues have been tried or heard and a decision has been rendered.

IT IS ORDERED AND ADJUDGED this action is DISMISSED as barred by the statute of limitations. The application to proceed in forma pauperis is DENIED.

20030203

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