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Norris v. Baker

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Northern Division, Ashland

April 17, 2015

LARRY NORRIS, Plaintiff,
LIEUTENANT BAKER, et al., Defendants.


HENRY R. WILHOIT, Jr., District Judge.

Proceeding without counsel, Plaintiff Larry Norris[1] has filed a pro se civil rights complaint asserting claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, pursuant to the doctrine announced in Bivens v. Six Unknown Federal Narcotics Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). [D. E. No. 1] Norris alleges that in April 2013, while confined by the BOP in the Federal Correctional Institution ("FCI")-Ashland, located in Ashland, Kentucky, the defendants[2] violated his various constitutional rights. Norris has paid the $400.00 filing fee. [D. E. No. 1-8]

Norris's complaint is dated March 19, 2015, and on that date, Norris was in the BOP's custody. The envelope in which Norris mailed his complaint was postmarked March 30, 2015, see D. E. No. 1-1, p. 9, and on that date, Norris was in the BOP's custody. The Clerk of the Court received and filed the complaint on April 2, 2015, which, as noted, was the same date on which Norris was released from the BOP's custody. Because Norris was a prisoner when he signed and placed his complaint in the prison's mailing system, and because Norris asserts claims against government officials, the Court screens Norris's Bivens complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.[3] That statute requires a district court to dismiss any claim that is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b); Grinter v. Knight, 532 F.3d 567, 572 (6th Cir. 2008); Wingo v. Tenn Dept. of Corrections, 499 F.Appx. 453, 454 (6th Cir. 2012) For the reasons set forth below, the Court will dismiss Norris's complaint because his claims are barred by the applicable statute of limitations and are thus legally frivolous.


The following is a summary of Norris's factual allegations. On an unspecified date, Norris he notified the Department of Justice ("DOJ") that in September 2012, Lieutenant Kenser of FCI-Ashland had physically attacked him, and that on April 27, 2013, Lieutenant Baker of FCI-Ashland physically assaulted him in a "rage of anger" without provocation, in response to the fact that he had reported Kenser's alleged assault on him to the DOJ. [D. E. No. 1, p. 13; pp. 16-17] Norris alleges that Lieutenant Baker assaulted him in his (Lieutenant Baker's) private office, "... well out of both the hearing and sight of anyone else at the institution, " id., p. 13, and according to Norris, the alleged assault"... caused great physical and mental harm to an already fragile Plaintiff as evidenced by his well-documented medical history." [ Id., p. 14] Norris claims that Lieutenant Baker also prevented him from filing a legitimate grievance and subjected him to mental torture and emotional distress. [ Id., p. 15] Norris further alleges that on April 27, 2013, Lieutenant Messer failed to protect him from harm by merely standing by, allowing Lieutenant Baker to physically attack him, failing to call or assistance, and failing to intercede in the attack on his behalf. [ Id., p. 13; pp. 16-17]

Norris next asserts that immediately after the attack, he was placed in FCI-Ashland's Special Housing Unit; that he suffered a heart attack as a result of the alleged attack by Lieutenant Baker; and that Nurse Barry Frazee intentionally wrote in his medical records that he (Norris) was not suffering from a heart attack. [ Id., pp. 14-15] Norris claims by intentionally entering such incorrect information into his medical records, Nurse Barry Frazee was modifying and/or falsifying his (Norris's) medical records "in an attempt to cover up or hide the events of the attack and the results of the attack." [ Id., p. 15]

While he was confined in the Special Housing Unit, Officers Lopez, Adkins, and Stevens allegedly subjected Norris to "taunts and jeers, " regularly searched his cell, and "took" his documentation about the attack. [ Id., p. 14] Norris further contends that these three defendants interfered with his efforts to file administrative grievances and/or the delivery of his mail in an effort to conceal the actions of Lieutenant Baker. [ Id. ] Norris alleges that "... any attempts Plaintiff made to grieve the ordeal were never sent by actual U.S. Mail or institutional mail in an attempt to follow the grievance process as they were taken by the three officers." [ Id. ] Norris further asserts that Lopez, Adkins, and Stevens, denied him access to necessary medical care; denied him access to necessary grievance forms; placed him in isolation and caused him to suffer "mental torture, " physically and mentally abused him; failed to report the attack on him (by Lieutenant Baker) to their immediate supervisor and/or the Warden of FCI-Ashland; and failed to protect his constitutional and procedural rights. [ Id., pp. 17-18]

Finally, Norris claims that between July 30, 2013, and October 4, 2013, he either filed or attempted to file a series of administrative grievances complaining about not only the specific alleged events at FCI-Ashland listed above, but also about other various aspects of his confinement at FCI-Ashland, including but not limited to the alleged confiscation of legal documents; harassment, verbal insults, and intimidation by prison officials; the alleged denial of legal research material; the alleged denial of air conditioning; and the alleged interference with the delivery of his legal mail. [ Id., pp. 4-6 (listing grievances)]

Norris asserts that the six FCI-Ashland defendants acted in concert with each other and conspired to subject him to excessive force; that they were "grossly negligent, " id., at p. 15, and that their actions violated his rights guaranteed under both the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment and the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees due process of law. Norris demands in excess of $7 million in compensatory damages from the named defendants. [ld., pp. 19-20]


1. Bivens Constitutional Claims

Norris's Bivens claims against the six FCI-Ashland defendants must be dismissed because they are barred by the applicable one-year statute of limitations. As a prisoner asserting Bivens claims against individual defendants for violation of his Fifth and Eighth Amendment rights, Norris must allege that the defendants showed "deliberate indifference" to his "serious medical needs." Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 297 (1991) Because neither 42 U.S.C. § 1983 nor the judicially-crafted remedy under Bivens include a statute of limitations, federal courts apply the most analogous statute of limitations from the state where the events giving rise to the cause of action occurred. Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S. 261, 268-71 (1985) The events at issue occurred in Kentucky, which means that Kentucky's one-year statute of limitations for asserting personal injuries applies. KRS § 413.140(1)(a); Mitchell v. Chapman, 343 F.3d 811, 825 (6th Cir. 2003).

In Bivens actions, federal law supplies its own rule of claim accrual. Collyer v. Darling, 98 F.3d 211, 220 (6th Cir. 1996) (citing Sevier v. Turner, 742 F.2d 262, 272 (6th Cir. 1984)). A claim accrues and the statute of limitations begins to run when a plaintiff knows, or has reason to know through the exercise of reasonable diligence, of the injury providing the basis for the claim. Kelly v. Burks, 415 F.3d 558, 561 (6th Cir. 2005) A plaintiff need not know the full extent of his injuries before his claim accrues. Instead, he need only be sufficiently aware of the injury to put him on inquiry notice. Friedman v. Estate of Presser, 929 F.2d 1151, 1159 (6th Cir. 1991)

Federal law also requires prisoners to exhaust their administrative remedies prior to filing suit. 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a) The BOP's administrative remedy process is set forth in 28 C.F.R. §§ 524.10-19, and absent an unreasonable delay or extension, the BOP grievance process should ordinarily take no more than 140 days to complete after the prisoner commences the formal grievance process. Cuco v. Federal Medical Center-Lexington, No. 05-CV-232-KSF, 2006 WL 1635668, at *26 (E. D. Ky. June 9, 2006). During that time, the statute ...

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