United States District Court, D. Delaware
Stephen B. Brauerman, Sara E. Bussiere, Bayard, P.A.,
Wilmington, DE - attorneys for Plaintiff
A. Griffith, Scott G. Wilcox, Whiteford Taylor & Preston
LLC, Wilmington, DE - attorneys for Defendants
N0REIKA, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is a motion for summary judgment (D.I. 199) by
Defendants Ihouma Chuks, Olatokunbo Gbadebo, Dr. Linda
Galef-Surdo and Ema Ndi (collectively, “the Medical
Defendants”), seeking summary judgment that Plaintiff
Wayne R. Averill's (“Plaintiff or
“Averill”) claims against them are barred by the
applicable statute of limitations. For the reasons discussed
below, the Court will GRANT the Medical Defendants'
motion for summary judgment.
14, 2012, Averill, a former inmate at James T. Vaughn
Correction Center, filed a pro se complaint
asserting violations of his civil rights pursuant to Section
1983, as well as claims of medical negligence, medical
malpractice, and negligence. (D.I. 3). Plaintiffs complaint
named a series of medical professionals and medical providers
as defendants. (Id.). On January 2, 2013, Plaintiff
filed the First Amended Complaint, (D.I. 19), adding
additional defendants - including Correct Care Solutions, LLC
(“CCS”) (the prison medical provider from July
2010 through June 2014) - and extending the period of alleged
violations into 2013. On September 19, 2013, Plaintiff filed
a Second Amended Complaint, including twenty additional
defendants and extending the alleged conduct through the
summer of 2013. (D.I. 24). A month later, on November 21,
2013, Plaintiff moved to amend the Second Amended Complaint.
(D.I. 25). After reviewing and screening the Second Amended
Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915 and § 1915A,
the Court dismissed all defendants except for four
individually named defendants, two medical providers, and a
number of Jane/John Does who were employed by the medical
providers. (D.I. 26). In the accompanying order, the Court
stated “[w]hen plaintiff learns the identity of the
[Correctional Medical Services, Inc (“CMS”)] and
CCS Doe Defendants, he shall immediately move the
court for an order directing amendment of the caption and
service upon them.” (D.I. 27 at 1) (emphasis added).
The parties engaged in discovery in 2014 and 2015. On March
12, 2015, Plaintiff submitted interrogatory responses
identifying each of the Medical Defendants as participants in
his care during the time at issue, but did not seek to amend
the Second Amended Complaint or the caption to add them.
(D.I. 90 at 8, 10, 20, 21, 24, 30).
23, 2015, the Court entered a scheduling order that allowed
amendment of the pleadings until August 24, 2015. (D.I. 98 at
1). No. amended pleadings were filed before that deadline. On
October 13, 2015, Plaintiff sought leave to file an 83-page
amended complaint with additional claims and defendants.
(D.I. 101, Ex. 1). The court denied the motion, as a failure
to comply with the Scheduling Order, a failure to comply with
the Local Rules, and an improper attempt to add “new
defendants for acts unrelated to the original
complaint.” (D.I. 125).
was assigned counsel on May 9, 2016. (D.I. 139). Thereafter,
the Court entered an amended scheduling order that set a
March 29, 2017 deadline for amendment of pleadings. (D.I.
151). On March 29, 2017, Plaintiff moved for leave to file a
Third Amended Complaint, which included claims against the
Medical Defendants in place of previously listed “CCS
Jane/John Doe” defendants. (D.I. 153). On October 16,
2017, the Court granted the motion in part and denied it in
part. (D.I. 170). On November 3, 2017, Plaintiff filed the
Third Amended Complaint. (D.I. 174).
Medical Defendants filed a motion to dismiss on December 13,
2017. (D.I. 182). The Court denied that motion, allowing the
parties to engage in a short period of expedited discovery on
the issues of application of the statute of limitations to
the claims against the Medical Defendants. (D.I. 198).
Plaintiff conducted no additional discovery with respect to
the statute of limitations and potential relation back. (D.I.
200 at 7). On November 16, 2018, the Medical Defendants filed
the pending motion for summary judgment. (D.I. 199).
Plaintiff opposes the motion. (D.I. 202).
to Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure,
“[t]he court shall grant summary judgment if the movant
shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material
fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.” The moving party bears the burden of
demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material
fact. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith
Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 585-86 (1986). An assertion
that a fact is not genuinely disputed must be supported by
citing to “particular parts of materials in the record,
including depositions, documents, electronically stored
information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations
(including those made for purposes of the motion only),
admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials,
” or by “showing that the materials cited do not
establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or
that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to
support the fact.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A) & (B).
If the moving party has carried its burden, the nonmovant
must then “come forward with specific facts showing
that there is a genuine issue for trial.”
Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587 (internal quotation
marks omitted). The Court will “draw all reasonable
inferences in favor of the nonmoving party, and it may not
make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence.”
Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S.
133, 150 (2000).
defeat a motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving party
must “do more than simply show that there is some
metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.”
Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586; see also Podobnik
v. U.S. Postal Serv., 409 F.3d 584, 594 (3d Cir. 2005)
(party opposing summary judgment “must present more
than just bare assertions, conclusory allegations or
suspicions to show the existence of a genuine issue”)
(internal quotation marks omitted). The “mere existence
of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not
defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary
judgment” and a factual dispute is genuine only where
“the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could
return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson
v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986).
“If the evidence is merely colorable, or is not
significantly probative, summary judgment may be
granted.” Id. at 249-50 (internal citations
omitted); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477
U.S. 317, 322 (1986). Thus, the “mere existence of a
scintilla of evidence” in support of the nonmoving
party's position is insufficient to defeat a motion for
summary judgment; there must be “evidence on which the
jury could reasonably find” for the nonmoving party.
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252.
Medical Defendants argue that summary judgment is appropriate
because Plaintiff's § 1983 claims are barred by the
two-year statute of limitations and do not relate back to the
original pleading. (D.I. 200). As an affirmative defense, the
burden of proving that the statute of limitations bars the
action falls upon the Medical Defendants. See Richard B.
Roush, Inc. Profit Sharing Plan v. New England Mut. Life Ins.
Co., 311 F.3d 581, 585 (3d Cir. 2002) (“Because
the statute of limitations is an affirmative defense and
because [the defendant] is the movant for summary judgment,
the burden of proof that the statute of limitations bars [the
plaintiff's] action rests on [the defendant].”).
Plaintiff does not, however, dispute that the amendment
naming the Medical Defendants was outside of the two-year
statute of limitations. (D.I. 202 at 4 (“Plaintiff does
not dispute that the amendment naming the Individual CCS
Defendants was outside the two-year statute of
limitations.”)). Thus, the Court finds that the Medical
Defendants have met their ...