United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, London
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
K. CALDWELL, CHIEF JUDGE.
Walker is a prisoner who was previously confined at the
United States Penitentiary (USP) - McCreary in Pine Knot,
Kentucky, and is now incarcerated at the Federal Correctional
Institution (FCI) in Jesup, Georgia. Proceeding without a
lawyer, Walker filed a civil rights complaint with this Court
in which he pursued multiple claims, including claims against
the United States of America pursuant to the Federal Tort
Claims Act (FTCA).
United States filed a motion to dismiss Walker's case or,
in the alternative, a motion for summary judgment. Walker
then filed a response in opposition, the United States filed
a reply, and Walker filed a sur reply. Thus, the United
States' dispositive motion is ripe for a decision. For
the reasons set forth below, the Court will deny the United
States' motion and will refer this case to a Magistrate
Judge for further proceedings.
November 2017, Walker sent a letter to the Court along with
several attachments, including correspondence referencing a
potential tort claim against the United States. See
Walker v. FMC - Lexington, No. 5:17-cv-465-JMH at R. 1
(E.D. Ky. 2017). While the Court docketed Walker's
submission as a civil action for administrative purposes, it
determined that his brief filings were insufficient to invoke
the Court's jurisdiction. See Id. at R. 4. That
is because Walker simply asked for legal advice regarding the
deadline for filing a lawsuit; he did not clearly name a
defendant, assert factual allegations, or request a specific
form of relief. Ultimately, the Court declined Walker's
request for guidance regarding the statute of limitations and
dismissed the matter without prejudice, though it noted that
Walker could still file a formal civil rights complaint with
the Court. See id.at R. 4.
weeks later, Walker did file his first formal civil rights
complaint. See Walker v. U.S. Dept. of Justice, No.
6:17-cv-347-GFVT at R. 1 (E.D. Ky. 2017). The Court, however,
determined that Walker's complaint did not comply with
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See Id. at R.
7. As an initial matter, the Court noted that Walker's
complaint violated Rule 8 because it did not contain “a
short and plain statement of the claim showing that [he] is
entitled to relief” and failed to include allegations
that were “simple, concise, and direct.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), (d)(1). After all, Walker's
complaint spanned dozens of hard-to-follow pages, including
nearly 100 paragraphs of factual allegations and almost 400
pages of attachments. Walker also appeared to list somewhere
between 23 and 28 different defendants, who he labeled as
defendants A through Z, A-1, and A-2, and he suggested that
each of those defendants ran afoul of various sources of law,
including but not limited to multiple constitutional
Court also indicated that Walker's complaint appeared to
violate Rule 20's limits on permissive joinder of
parties. That rule only allows a plaintiff to join one claim
against one defendant and a different claim against a
different defendant in one lawsuit if both claims arise out
of the same occurrence or series of occurrences. See
Fed. R. Civ. P. 20(a)(2)(A). As best as the Court could tell,
Walker was alleging several different constitutional and
statutory claims against several different defendants. To be
sure, some of Walker's claims related to an allegation
that he was injured in November 2014, while prison officials
transported him in a van to or from a medical facility.
However, some of Walker's other claims appeared to relate
to a separate incident in December 2014, when he allegedly
fell out of bed, and still other claims related to an
incident in November 2015, when he allegedly fell in the
shower. Walker then asserted even more claims against
officials and medical care providers at two different federal
prisons-USP McCreary and FCI Jesup. In short, the Court
determined that Walker was attempting to bring all of his
grievances, against many different parties, in one case,
which is not permitted by the Federal Rules of Civil
light of the foregoing problems, the Court did not assess a
filing fee and, instead, dismissed Walker's first formal
complaint without prejudice. Still, the Court informed Walker
that he could complete and file a second formal complaint,
and it sent him the proper forms to do so. The Court,
however, noted that Walker could not assert numerous,
distinct claims against dozens of different defendants in one
lawsuit; rather, the Court informed Walker that he must file
a proper, streamlined complaint that complied with the rules
set forth in the Court's order. See Walker, No.
6:17-cv-347-GFVT at R. 7.
then filed his second formal civil rights complaint, which is
the operative pleading in this case. See R. 1. In
that complaint, Walker alleges that, in November 2014, prison
officials transported him in a van from a medical appointment
back to USP McCreary. See Id. at 24. Walker,
however, claims that the officials did not properly secure
his wheelchair, and when the van driver accelerated
aggressively, Walker “flew backwards, hitting the back
of his head very hard on the steel wheelchair lift attached
to the back doors of the van.” Id. at 25.
Walker claims that he was seriously injured as a result of
this incident. See Id. at 25, 29-30. Walker also
alleges that multiple officials at USP McCreary subsequently
provided him with legally inadequate medical care. See
Id. at 33. Based on these allegations, Walker put forth
federal constitutional claims and state law negligence claims
against numerous employees at USP McCreary. See R. 1
at 1-2, 9-23, 50. Walker also asserted claims against the
United States pursuant to the FTCA. See Id. at 1, 4,
Court conducted an initial screening of Walker's
complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and
1915A and determined that his federal constitutional claims
and state law negligence claims were time barred.
See R. 8. Thus, the Court dismissed those claims
with prejudice. See Id. However, the Court allowed
Walker's FTCA claims to proceed past the initial
screening stage, and it directed the Clerk's Office and
the United States Marshals Service to serve the United States
with a summons and copy of the complaint on Walker's
behalf. See id.
after the Court resolved a number of procedural issues that
arose in the case, the United States filed a motion to
dismiss Walker's case or, in the alternative, a motion
for summary judgment. See R. 30. The United
States' principal argument is that Walker's FTCA
claims are barred by the statute of limitations and, thus,
his case should be dismissed. See Id. at 19-27. The
United States also argues that Walker's FTCA claims fail
because he “has not set forth any expert
testimony whatsoever to support his claims, and neither
narrow exception to this requirement exists in this
case.” Id. at 29.
respect to the timeliness issue, the United States points out
that, after the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) administratively
denied Walker's claim, Walker filed a request for
reconsideration, which the BOP received on February 27, 2017.
See R. 30-2 at 97-102. The United States argues
that, pursuant to 28 C.F.R. § 14.9, Walker had six
months from this date to file his lawsuit in federal court.
That said, the United States acknowledges that, on June 26,
2017, the BOP sent Walker a letter in which it made him a
settlement offer and said, “If you are not satisfied
with this determination, you have six months from the date of
this letter to bring suit in an appropriate United States
District Court, should you wish to do so.” R. 30-2 at
103-05. In light of this fact, the United States says in its
motion, “Giving [Walker] the benefit of this error
would extend the time for filing a complaint to December 26,
2017.” R. 30-1 at 22. The United States, however,
points out that Walker did not even file his first formal
civil rights complaint with this Court until December 28,
2017, see Walker v. U.S. Dept. of Justice, No.
6:17-cv-347-GFVT at R. 1 (E.D. Ky. 2017), and, even then,
Walker's complaint was so deficient that it was dismissed
without prejudice. See Id. at R. 7. The United
States then emphasizes that Walker did not file his second
formal civil rights complaint-the operative pleading in this
case-until April 2018. Therefore, the United States argues
that “Walker's complaint is time barred.” R.
30-1 at 23.
respect to the expert-testimony issue, the United States
argues that “Walker has failed to state a claim for
relief under the FTCA” because he has not yet presented
expert testimony to support his claims. R. 30-1 at 27-29.
Furthermore, while the United States acknowledges that there
are some exceptions to the general rule regarding expert
testimony, including but not limited to the so-called
“common knowledge exception, ” it argues that
those exceptions are inapplicable to Walker's case. Thus,
the United States claims Walker's FTCA claims fail as a
matter of law.
has now filed a response in opposition to the United
States' dispositive motion, the United States has filed
its reply brief, and Walker has filed a sur reply.
See Rs. ...