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Boston v. Kitsap County

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

April 7, 2017

Eric Boston, individually, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Kitsap County, a Municipal Corporation organized under the laws of the State of Washington; Conmed, Inc., a foreign corporation doing business in Kitsap County, Defendants-Appellants.

          Argued and Submitted December 9, 2016 Seattle, Washington

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington D.C. No. 3:14-cv-05205-RBL Ronald B. Leighton, District Judge, Presiding

          Marc Rosenberg (argued), Lee Smart P.S. Inc., Seattle, Washington, for Defendants-Appellants.

          Anthony Clarence Otto (argued), Law Office of Anthony C. Otto, Port Orchard, Washington, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

          Before: Richard C. Tallman and Morgan Christen, Circuit Judges, and Morrison C. England, Jr., [*] District Judge.

         SUMMARY[**]

         Civil Rights

         The panel reversed the district court's order denying defendants' motion to dismiss and remanded with instructions to dismiss plaintiff's 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims as time barred.

         Plaintiff's substantive claims arose out of injuries he sustained between January 3, 2011, and February 14, 2011, while housed at the Kitsap County Jail. On January 3, 2014, plaintiff submitted a tort claim to Kitsap County pursuant to Washington's presentment statute, RCW 4.96.020. After receiving no response from the County, plaintiff filed a federal lawsuit on March 10, 2014. The magistrate judge determined that because plaintiff had filed a claim prior to expiration of the statute of limitations, under the tolling provision set forth in RCW 4.96.020, he was entitled to 60 additional days in which to file his § 1983 action.

         The panel held that RCW 4.96.020 does not operate to toll the state's general residual limitations period applicable to § 1983 actions because RCW 4.96.020 is a special statute of limitations as opposed to a typical tolling provision. As a result, the panel held that plaintiff filed his federal complaint after the applicable three-year statute of limitations had expired, and that his § 1983 claims were thus time barred and consequently should be dismissed.

          OPINION

          ENGLAND, District Judge

         Appellants Kitsap County ("Kitsap") and Conmed, Inc. ("Conmed") (collectively, "Appellants") appeal from the district court's denial of their motion to dismiss as time barred Appellee Eric Boston's ("Appellee" or "Plaintiff") claims brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Appellee contends that the applicable statute of limitations was tolled under RCW 4.96.020. We hold, however, that because RCW 4.96.020 is a special statute of limitations as opposed to a typical tolling provision, it is not applicable to claims filed under § 1983. As a result, we find that Appellee filed his federal complaint after the applicable three-year statute of limitations had expired, and that his § 1983 claims are thus time barred and consequently should be dismissed. We reverse the district court's order denying Appellants' motion to dismiss and remand with instructions to dismiss Plaintiff's § 1983 claims as time barred.

         I

         Appellee's substantive claims arise out of injuries he sustained between January 3, 2011, and February 14, 2011, while he was housed at the Kitsap County Jail. Given those injuries, Appellee submitted a tort claim on January 3, 2014, to Kitsap County. Washington's claims presentment statute, RCW 4.96.020, provides:

No action subject to the claim filing requirements of this section shall be commenced against any local government entity, or against any local government entity's officers, employees, or volunteers, acting in such capacity, for damages arising out of tortious conduct until sixty calendar days have elapsed after the claim has first been presented to the agent of the governing body thereof. The applicable period of limitations within which an action must be commenced shall be tolled during the sixty calendar day period. For the purposes of the applicable period of limitations, an action commenced within five court days after the sixty calendar day period has elapsed is deemed to have been presented on the first day after the sixty calendar day period elapsed.

RCW 4.96.020(4).

         After receiving no response from Kitsap, Appellee filed a federal district court lawsuit on March 10, 2014, in the Western District of Washington alleging causes of action for violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and negligence against Kitsap and Conmed, a private entity that contracted with Kitsap to provide inmate healthcare services. Subsequently, on March 11, 2014, Appellee filed a materially identical state court ...


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