United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington
TONYA FORD as personal representative of the estate of JAMES FORD, Plaintiff,
EASTERN STATE HOSPITAL, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
M. HOOD SENIOR U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Defendants Carrie Rudzik, Cathy
Gibson, Julie Spivey, and Dr. Andrew Cooley's motion to
dismiss Plaintiff Tonya Ford's claims against
them. [DE 3]. Plaintiff is the personal
representative of her son, James Ford, who passed away in May
2018 after a week-long involuntary commitment at Eastern
State Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky. She filed a complaint
in Fayette Circuit Court alleging violations of her son's
constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
common-law negligence, wrongful death, and a violation of
Kentucky's long-term care statute. [DE 2-1]. Because all
of Ford's claims fall outside the applicable statute of
limitations, and the long-term care statute is inapplicable
to this case, her claims must be dismissed.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Ford died of a pulmonary embolism on May 14, 2017 following a
short-term involuntary commitment at Eastern State, a
psychiatric hospital operated by UK HealthCare. [DE 2-1 at
35-38; DE 3-1 at 2]. Ford's mother, the plaintiff in this
case, was appointed to be the personal representative of
Ford's estate on May 7, 2018. [DE 2-1 at 35]. Ford, at
twenty-eight years old, was admitted pursuant to court order
on or around May 7, 2017. [Id. at 37]. He suffered
from several psychiatric and seizure disorders, including
schizophrenia. [DE 8 at 2].
had a history of pulmonary embolism related to his
psychiatric disorders. [DE 2-1 at 37]. On this occasion,
Plaintiff claims Ford entered a catatonic state that left him
unresponsive and unable to take fluids or food. [DE 8 at 3].
Plaintiff attempted to warn the hospital's employees of
the seriousness of her son's condition and the need for
certain treatment to avoid blood clotting. [DE 2-1 at 37; DE
8 at 3]. After attempting to visit him at Eastern State and
speaking with several employees, Plaintiff says she received
no assurances or information about her son's condition.
10, 2017, Plaintiff alleges that she received a phone call
from an Eastern State registered nurse and named defendant in
this case. [DE 8 at 4]. The nurse expressed extreme concern
for Ford's health considering his state and medical
history. [Id.]. Four days later, Ford was found
unresponsive and was taken to the University of Kentucky
Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. [DE 2-1 at 38].
Ford's autopsy lists pulmonary embolism in his lungs as
the cause of his death. [DE 2-1 at 38; DE 8-1]. Plaintiff
alleges that Ford did not eat during his stay at Eastern
State and received no medical attention despite his high risk
of blood clotting. [DE 2-1 at 38].
filed her complaint on May 10, 2019. [DE 2-1 at 2]. Her
counsel maintain that they tried to file the
complaint on Tuesday, May 7, 2019, but due to an error with
the court's e-filing system, it was not filed until
Friday, May 10, 2019. [DE 8 at 13]. Counsel realized on May
10 that the complaint was not filed within Kentucky's
Courtnet system. [Id. at 16]. Plaintiff attached to
her reply an affidavit from an information technology
specialist stating that the browser history showed an
acceptance of counsel's credit card payment. [DE 8-6 at
alleges that the Defendants collectively violated Ford's
“right to Due Process and his right to be free from
cruel and unreasonable punishment” under the Eighth and
Fourteenth amendments, pursuant to the private right of
action afforded by 42 U.S.C. § 1983. [Id.].
Plaintiff also charges Defendants with negligence, medical
malpractice, and wrongful death under Kentucky law for the
same actions. [Id. at 40-41]. Finally, Plaintiff
alleges that Defendants violated a Kentucky statutory
provision that aims to protect residents in long-term care
facilities. [Id. at 41].
STANDARD OF REVIEW
motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) tests the
sufficiency of the plaintiff's complaint. The court views
the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff
and must accept as true all well-pleaded factual allegations
contained within it. Thompson v. Bank of Am., N.A.,
773 F.3d 741, 750 (6th Cir. 2014). “To survive a motion
to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual
matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A
claim is plausible when it contains facts that allow the
court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is
liable for the alleged misconduct. Id. “The
plausibility standard ... asks for more than a sheer
possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.”
a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, which
considers the factual allegations in the complaint, is an
“inappropriate vehicle” for dismissing a case
based on a statute of limitations. Lutz v. Chesapeake
Appalachia, LLC, 717 F.3d 459, 464 (6th Cir.
2013)(citing Cataldo v. U.S. Steel Corp., 676 F.3d
542, 547 (6th Cir. 2012)). However, if the allegations in the
complaint affirmatively show the claim is time-barred,
dismissal is warranted. Id.
did not provide a statute of limitations for claims brought
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The United States Supreme Court
has held 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). The Supreme Court has further held that
these claims are best characterized as personal injury
actions. Id. In applying this rationale to Kentucky
common law, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth
Circuit explained that Kentucky does not have multiple
statutes of limitations for personal injury actions, thus,
§ 1983 actions in Kentucky are limited by the
Commonwealth's one-year statute of limitations in KRS
§ 413.140(1)(a). Bonner v. Perry, 564 F.3d 424,
430 (6th Cir. 2009)(citing Collard v. Kentucky Bd. of
Nursing, 896 F.2d 179, 182-83 (6th Cir. 1990)).
addition to § 1983 claims, actions for medical
malpractice, negligence, and wrongful death are subject to
Kentucky's one-year statute of limitations. KRS §
413.140(e); Carden v. Louisville & Nashville R.R.
Co., 101 Ky. 113 (1897)(holding that the statute of
limitations for wrongful death in Kentucky is one year);
Conner v. George W. Whitesides Co., 834 S.W.2d 652,
653-54 (Ky. ...