JANET A. DAVIS, Administratrix for the Estate of Anthony Dwayne Davis, Deceased, Plaintiff,
RONALD L. BISHOP and UNKNOWN EMPLOYEES of the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government Department of Corrections, Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
KAREN K. CALDWELL, District Judge.
This matter is before the Court on the motion for judgment on the pleadings (DE 10) filed by the Defendant, Ronald L. Bishop. For the following reasons, Bishop's motion will be denied but the Plaintiff will be required to file an amended complaint consistent with this opinion and order.
The Plaintiff in this matter is Janet A. Davis, acting as the administratrix for the estate of her son, Anthony Dwayne Davis, who died while in custody at the Fayette County Detention Center. Ms. Davis alleges that Anthony died because various employees of the detention center failed to give him certain medication required for a congenital heart condition.
Davis asserts claims against Bishop and unknown employees of the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government Department of Corrections. With Count I of the Complaint, Davis asserts that Anthony died as a result of the "actions or failure to act" of Bishop and the unknown employees. It is unclear what specific cause of action Davis asserts with Count I. With Count II, Davis asserts a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 that the Defendants violated Anthony's rights to due process of law in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and that the Defendants violated Anthony's rights under Section 1 of the Kentucky Constitution. Davis also asserts statelaw claims for punitive damages (Count III) and wrongful death (Count IV) and a claim that the Defendants violated KRS Chapter 441 and 501 KAR 3:090 (Count V) by failing to provide Anthony proper medical care while in custody.
Defendant Bishop moves for judgment on the pleadings in his favor on all claims.
A. The Claims are not Time Barred.
Bishop first argues that all of the claims are barred by the applicable statute of limitations. Neither the federal nor state claims are untimely.
Bishop relies on the Kentucky limitations statute, which states that certain actions must be "commenced within one (1) year after the cause of action accrued." KRS § 413.140(1). Among those actions are "[a]n action for an injury to the person of the plaintiff, or of her husband, his wife, child, ward, apprentice, or servant...." KRS § 413.140(1)(a).
This limitations period clearly applies to all of Davis's state-law claims. It also applies to Davis's claim under § 1983. Collard v. Kentucky Bd. of Nursing, 896 F.2d 179, 182 (6th Cir. 1990). This is because § 1983 does not contain its own statute of limitations and the Supreme Court has instructed that federal courts should "borrow and apply to all § 1983 claims the one most analogous state statute of limitations." Owens v. Okure, 488 U.S. 235, 240 (1989). Moreover, the Sixth Circuit has determined that the analogous state statute of limitations in Kentucky is the one-year limitations period contained in KRS § 413.140(1)(a). Collard, 896 F.2d 179 at 182.
Again, the Kentucky limitations statute requires that the action must be "commenced within one (1) year after the cause of action accrued." KRS § 413.140(1). Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 3, "a civil action is commenced by filing a complaint with the court." There appears to be no dispute that Anthony died on June 25, 2011. Davis filed this lawsuit on January 31, 2012. Thus, under the federal rules, Davis's lawsuit is timely.
Bishop argues, however, that it is state law, not the federal rules, that governs when a case is commenced. A Kentucky statute provides that an action is commenced "on the date of the first summons or process issued in good faith from the court having jurisdiction of the cause of action." KRS § 413.250. Bishop argues that the initial summons should not be deemed to have been issued in good faith under Kentucky law because it contained the wrong address for Bishop and because Davis did not manage to obtain a summons with the correct address and serve Bishop until July 30, 2012, which was about six months after the complaint was filed. If the initial summons was not issued in good faith, then Davis's claim was not commenced within the one-year time period.
Thus, the question is whether Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 3 or the Kentucky statute governs when Davis's action "commenced." With regard to Davis's federal claims, the Sixth Circuit has recognized that, in § 1983 suits, "courts have uniformly rejected the principle that a statute of limitations tolling provision automatically follows a statute of limitations borrowed for a federal cause of action." Macon v. ITT Continental Baking Co., Inc., 779 F.2d 1166, 1172 (6th Cir. 1985). The court explained, "[s]ome states' rules, unlike the federal rules, provide that service of process rather than the filing of the complaint tolls the statute of limitations, but when federal courts have ...