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Boddie v. Van Steyn

United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

April 11, 2017

Howard Boddie, Jr., Plaintiff,
Scott J. Van Steyn, Defendant.



          Terence P. Kemp United States Magistrate Judge

         Plaintiff Howard Boddie, Jr., a former state prisoner proceeding pro se, filed this action under 42 U.S.C. §1983 against Scott J. Van Steyn. He has moved for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. The Court will grant the motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. For the following reasons, it will be recommended that the complaint be dismissed under 28 U.S.C. §1915(e).


         28 U.S.C. §1915(e)(2) provides that in proceedings in forma pauperis, “[t]he court shall dismiss the case if... (B) the action... is frivolous or malicious [or] fails to state a claim on which relief can be granted...” The purpose of this section is to prevent suits which are a waste of judicial resources and which a paying litigant would not initiate because of the costs involved. See Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319 (1989). A complaint may be dismissed as frivolous only when the plaintiff fails to present a claim with an arguable or rational basis in law or fact. See id. at 325. Claims which lack such a basis include those for which the defendants are clearly entitled to immunity and claims of infringement of a legal interest which does not exist, see id. at 327-28, and “claims describing fantastic or delusional scenarios, claims with which federal district judges are all too familiar.” Id. at 328; see also Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25 (1992). A complaint may not be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if the complaint contains “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Pro se complaints are to be construed liberally in favor of the pro se party. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972). The complaint will be evaluated under these standards.


         By way of background, Mr. Boddie, while incarcerated in the Chillicothe Correctional Institution, filed a virtually identical action against Dr. Van Steyn raising the same claims he raises here and sought leave to proceed in forma pauperis. His motion to proceed in forma pauperis was denied pursuant to the “three strikes rule” set forth in 28 U.S.C. §1915(g), which requires assessment of the full filing fee in a case brought by a prisoner who has had three or more prior cases dismissed as frivolous, malicious, or for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. That case was ultimately dismissed for Mr. Boddie's failure to pay the filing fee in full as ordered. See Boddie v. Van Steyn, Case No. 2:15-cv-06 (S.D. Ohio Apr. 20, 2016).


         In his current complaint, Mr. Boddie alleges that Dr. Van Steyn “violated the physician patient relationship and disclosed confidential medical information to” three separate third parties on three separate occasions (Doc. 1 at 3). According to the complaint, Dr. Van Steyn's alleged unauthorized disclosures to state officials constituted “violations of his First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendment Rights [that] subjected Plaintiff to wrongful detention...racial discrimination, denial of due process and access to the courts, and other related damages” (Id. at 9). He further alleges that Dr. Van Steyn conspired with state officials, therefore making him subject to liability under 42 U.S.C. §1983.

         According to the complaint, in April, 2009, Mr. Boddie consulted Dr. Van Steyn about the possibility of reconstructive surgery on his left knee. According to the complaint, this surgery was completed on April 23, 2009. At that time, Mr. Boddie also was facing criminal charges, which required Dr. Van Steyn to communicate with state prosecutors and other officials regarding Mr. Boddie's surgical recovery. Mr. Boddie alleges that Dr. Van Steyn breached his duty of confidentiality by failing to respond to a state subpoena for medical records, and instead interacting with state prosecutors and divulging “half-lies” about Mr. Boddie's “race, physical dependency, drug and mental state” without consent (Id. at 15). Mr. Boddie alleges that these events caused him to miss his court date and ultimately resulted in his conviction and imprisonment. The three separate disclosures at issue in Mr. Boddie's complaint occurred in May and June, 2009. Consequently, these disclosures occurred on a date more than two years before Mr. Boddie filed his current complaint.

         As another Judge of this Court has explained:

Although the statute of limitations is normally an affirmative defense raised by defendants in an answer, “if a statute of limitations defense clearly appears on the face of a pleading, the district court can raise the issue sua sponte.” Watson v. Wayne County, 90 Fed.Appx. 814, 815 (6th Cir. 2004)(citing Pino v. Ryan, 49 F.3d 51, 53-54 (2d Cir. 1995)); see also Alston v. Tenn. Dep't of Corr., 28 Fed.Appx.475, 476 (6th Cir. 2002)(“Because the statute of limitations defect was obvious from the face of the complaint, sua sponte dismissal of the complaint was appropriate.”). Moreover, “[w]here a particular claim is barred by the applicable statute of limitations, it does not present an arguable or rational basis in law or fact and therefore may be dismissed as frivolous under § 1915(e)(2).” Fraley v. Ohio Gallia Cnty., No. 97-3564, 1998 WL 789385, at *1 (6th Cir. Oct. 30, 1998). While state law provides the statute of limitations to be applied in a §1983 action, federal law governs when that limitations period begins to run. Sevier v. Turner, 742 F.2d 262, 272 (6th Cir. 1984). The statute of limitations begins to run when “the plaintiff knows or has reason to know of the injury which is the basis of his action.” Id. at 273.

Hurst v. State of Ohio Bureau of Investigation and Identification, 2016 WL 1604553, *3 (S.D. Ohio April 22, 2016) (Marbley, J.).

         The statute of limitations applicable to claims arising under 42 U.S.C. §1983 is the two-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims found in Ohio Revised Code §2305.10. Brown v. Pendleton, 869 F.2d 989 (6th Cir. 1989). Mr. Boddie did not file this case until January 10, 2017, a date well beyond the applicable limitations period. Additionally, according to the allegations of the complaint, Mr. Boddie knew that the alleged breach and injury occurred no later than May, 2009. According to Mr. Boddie, this was the time period during which the state ...

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