United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division
MEMORANDUM & RECOMMENDATION
T. Numbers, II United States Magistrate Judge
Arthur Jay Goulette, a state inmate proceeding pro se, has
brought claims against Defendants Dr. Vincent P. Wilson and
Dr. Paula Smith under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This matter is
currently before the court on Smith's motion for judgment
on the pleadings. D.E. 64. After reviewing the parties'
submissions, the undersigned recommends that the district
court deny Smith's motion without prejudice.
February 2017, Goulette filed a motion for preliminary
injunction, raising concerns about his medical care. D.E. 1.
In response to a deficiency order, Goulette later filed a
form complaint, and then sought to amend his complaint
several times after that. D.E. 4, 5, 11, 16, 17. Several
months later the court denied Goulette's motion for a
preliminary injunction, dismissed several parties and claims
from the action, and directed Goulette to file a single
amended complaint. D.E. 23.
filed an amended complaint as directed. D.E. 25. In general,
Goulette's amended complaint alleges that defendants
neglected his back and neck pain from 2012 until 2017. Am.
Compl. at 6-7, D.E. 25. In October 2017, the court conducted
a thorough frivolity review and dismissed all of
Goulette's claims, except for his allegations that Wilson
and Smith were deliberately indifferent to his serious
medical needs. D.E. 28 at 8.
the court allowed Goulette's claims against Wilson and
Smith to proceed, it questioned whether Goulette exhausted
his administrative remedies. Id. Accordingly, the
court invited the defendants to raise failure to exhaust as
an affirmative defense. Id.
moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim
in February 2018. D.E. 37. The court denied Wilson's
motion to dismiss, again reiterating that Goulette plausibly
alleged deliberate indifference to a serious medical need.
Order at 4, D.E. 56. The order also granted Goulette leave to
supplement his existing claims, see D.E. 55, but
denied leave to raise any additional causes of action.
Id. at 4-6.
2018, Smith filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings and
answer, arguing that Goulette's claims are time-barred.
D.E. 64. After Goulette responded, the court referred the
motion to the undersigned for entry of a memorandum and
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) permits a party to move for
judgment on the pleadings “[a]fter the pleadings are
closed-but early enough not to delay trial.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). A Rule 12(c) motion is designed to
dispose of cases when the material facts are not in dispute.
Thus, the court can decide the case on its merits by
considering the pleadings along with any materials referenced
in and attached to the pleadings. See Id. 10(c),
12(c). In addition, a court may consider “documents
incorporated into the [pleadings] by reference, and matters
of which a court may take judicial notice.”
Tellabs, Inc. v. Makor Issues & Rights, Ltd.,
551 U.S. 308, 322 (2007); see Thompson v. Greene,
427 F.3d 263, 268 (4th Cir. 2005); Fayetteville
Inv'rs v. Commercial Builders, Inc., 936 F.2d 1462,
1465 (4th Cir. 1991).
same standard of review applied to a motion to dismiss under
Rule 12(b)(6) also applies to a motion for judgment on the
pleadings under Rule 12(c). See Burbach Broad. Co. of
Del. v. Elkins Radio Corp., 278 F.3d 401, 405-06 (4th
Cir. 2002). In analyzing a motion for a judgment on the
pleadings, a court must determine whether the complaint is
legally and factually sufficient. See Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-80 (2009); Bell Atl. Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 563-70 (2007); Coleman v.
Md. Court of Appeals, 626 F.3d 187, 190 (4th Cir. 2010),
aff'd, 132 S.Ct. 1327 (2012); Giarratano v.
Johnson, 521 F.3d 298, 302 (4th Cir. 2008); Goodman
v. Praxair, Inc., 494 F.3d 458, 464 (4th Cir. 2007) (en
banc); accord Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93-94
(2007) (per curiam). The court will accept the
complaint's factual allegations as true, but will not
accept the complaint's legal conclusions. Iqbal,
556 U.S. at 677-80; Giarratano, 521 F.3d at 302.
Similarly, a court “need not accept as true unwarranted
inferences, unreasonable conclusions, or arguments.”
Giarratano, 521 F.3d at 302 (quotation omitted).
Lastly, while the court liberally construes pro se
complaints, Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151
(4th Cir. 1978), it does not act as the inmate's
advocate, and will not develop statutory and constitutional
claims the inmate failed to raise on the face of his
complaint. See Brock v. Carroll, 107 F.3d 241, 243
(4th Cir. 1997) (Luttig, J., concurring); Beaudett v.
City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985).
argues that Goulette's claims against her are time
barred. She asserts that his injuries were the result of a
slip and fall that occurred in August 2012 and that Goulette
did not file his complaint until February 2017. Def. Mem. at
2, D.E. 63.
is no federal statute of limitations for actions brought
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Instead, the analogous state
statute of limitations applies. See Wallace v. Kato,
549 U.S. 384, 387 (2007). The state statute of limitations
for personal injury actions governs claims brought under 42
U.S.C. § 1983. See Id. North Carolina has a
three-year statute of limitations for personal injury
actions. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1-52(5); see Brooks v.
City of Winston-Salem, 85 F.3d 178, 181 (4th Cir. 1996).
Although federal courts borrow the state limitations period
for § 1983 claims, the time a claim accrues is a
question of federal law. Wallace, 549 U.S. at 388;
Brooks, 85 F.3d at 181. A claim accrues when the
plaintiff knows or has reason to know of the injury which is
the basis of the action. Owens v. Baltimore City
State's Attorneys Office, 767 F.3d 379, 389 (4th
Cir. 2014). Finally, “[w]hen a state statute [of
limitations] is borrowed . . . the federal court will also
borrow the state rules on tolling.” Shook ex rel
Shook v. Gaston Cnty. Bd. of Educ., 882 F.2d 119, 121
(4th Cir. 1989); see Bd. of Regents v. Tomanio, 446
U.S. 478, 483-85 (1980); Bonneau v. Centennial Sch. Dist.
No. 28J, 666 F.3d 577, 580 (9th Cir. 2012).
motion should be denied. The court disagrees with Smith's
assessment of Goulette's claim. His claim is not just
that he suffered an injury from an August 2012 slip and fall.
Rather, Goulette claims Smith engaged in an ongoing pattern
of deliberate indifference by failing to treat serious
injuries that arose from that accident. See Am.
Compl. at 6-7, D.E. ...