870 F.3d 883 (9th Cir. 2017), 14-16785, Gregg v. State

Docket Nº:14-16785
Citation:870 F.3d 883
Opinion Judge:Raymond C. Fisher, Circuit Judge:
Party Name:ALEXANDRIA GREGG, Individually and on Behalf of All Others Similarly Situated, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. STATE OF HAWAII, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY; TED SAKAI, in his official capacity as Director of the Department of Public Safety, State of Hawaii; NEAL WAGATSUMA, in his official capacity as Warden of the Kauai Community Correctional Center, ...
Attorney:Margery S. Bronster (argued), Andrew L. Pepper, Robert Hatch, and Anthony Quan, Bronster Hoshibata, Honolulu, Hawaii; Dan Hempey, Hempey & Meyers, Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii; for Plaintiff-Appellant. Marie Manulele Gavigan (argued) and Caron M. Inagaki, Deputy Attorneys General; Douglas S. Chin, Attorn...
Judge Panel:Before: Raymond C. Fisher, Richard A. Paez and Jacqueline H. Nguyen, Circuit Judges. Opinion by Judge Fisher.
Case Date:August 29, 2017
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
SUMMARY

The Ninth Circuit vacated the district court's dismissal of an action filed under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that a former inmate was psychologically traumatized as a result of being compelled to undergo sexual shame therapy at a Hawaii correctional facility. The panel applied Simmons v. United States, 805 F.2d 1363 (9th Cir. 1986), and held that the district court erred in denying as futile... (see full summary)

 
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Page 883

870 F.3d 883 (9th Cir. 2017)

ALEXANDRIA GREGG, Individually and on Behalf of All Others Similarly Situated, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

STATE OF HAWAII, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY; TED SAKAI, in his official capacity as Director of the Department of Public Safety, State of Hawaii; NEAL WAGATSUMA, in his official capacity as Warden of the Kauai Community Correctional Center, Department of Public Safety, State of Hawaii, and in his individual capacity, Defendants-Appellees

No. 14-16785

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

August 29, 2017

Argued and Submitted, Honolulu, Hawaii June 15, 2017.

Page 884

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii. D.C. No. 1:14-cv-00056-JMS-KSC. J. Michael Seabright, Chief Judge, Presiding.

Gregg v. Hawaii, (D. Haw., Aug. 18, 2014)

SUMMARY[*]

Civil Rights

The panel vacated the district court's dismissal of a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action brought by a former Hawaii inmate who alleged that she was psychologically traumatized as a result of being compelled to undergo sexual shame therapy at a Hawaii correctional facility, and remanded.

The district court held that because plaintiff experienced feelings of embarrassment and humiliation contemporaneously with her therapy sessions, her claims accrued on the last date that the sessions occurred in November 2011. The district court dismissed plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claims filed on January 31, 2014 under the applicable two-year statute of limitations and denied her request for leave to amend her complaint.

Applying Simmons v. United States, 805 F.2d 1363 (9th Cir. 1986), the panel held that the district court erred in denying plaintiff leave to amend to try to make a plausible showing that it was not until January 2012 that she first became aware of her injuries from her purported treatment in the therapy program. The panel held that it may be reasonable for an incarcerated individual who is told she must resurface past sexual traumas to overcome them to rely on these assurances, and to view associated feelings of emotional distress as normal, constructive responses incidental to the healing process. The panel held that like the plaintiff in Simmons, plaintiff in this case may be able to allege facts making it plausible she neither knew nor reasonably should have known she was injured by the therapy program until sometime after she stopped participating in the sessions.

Margery S. Bronster (argued), Andrew L. Pepper, Robert Hatch, and Anthony Quan, Bronster Hoshibata, Honolulu, Hawaii; Dan Hempey, Hempey & Meyers, Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii; for Plaintiff-Appellant.

Marie Manulele Gavigan (argued) and Caron M. Inagaki, Deputy Attorneys General; Douglas S. Chin, Attorney General; Department of the Attorney General, Honolulu, Hawaii; for Defendants-Appellees.

Before: Raymond C. Fisher, Richard A. Paez and Jacqueline H. Nguyen, Circuit Judges. Opinion by Judge Fisher.

OPINION

Page 885

Raymond C. Fisher, Circuit Judge:

Alexandria Gregg learned she had psychological disorders years after she underwent sexual shame therapy sessions at a Hawaii correctional facility. Because Gregg experienced feelings of embarrassment and humiliation contemporaneously with her therapy sessions, the district court held her claims accrued on the last date that the sessions occurred. The district court dismissed her Eighth Amendment claims asserting cruel and unusual punishment and deliberate indifference under the applicable two-year statute of limitations and denied her request for leave to amend her complaint. We address when her claims accrued. Under federal law, a claim accrues when a plaintiff knows or has reason to know of the injury that is the basis of the action and the cause of that injury. See Bonneau v. Centennial Sch. Dist. No. 28J, 666 F.3d 577, 581 (9th Cir. 2012); TwoRivers v. Lewis, 174 F.3d 987, 991 (9th Cir. 1999). Here, Gregg may be able to allege she was unaware of her injuries until sometime after she stopped participating in the therapy sessions. See

Simmons v. United States, 805 F.2d 1363 (9th Cir. 1986). That is, she may have reasonably viewed the embarrassment and humiliation she felt as the ordinary, and hence not harmful, response to therapy. We hold the district court erred in denying as futile Gregg's request for leave to amend to include new assertions to this effect, and we vacate and remand.

I. Background

A. Factual Allegations

Gregg was periodically incarcerated at the Kauai Community Correctional Center (KCCC) in Hawaii between March and November 2011. Her first amended complaint alleges the following facts about her experience there.

Gregg participated in Life Time Stand (LTS), a program run by Warden Neal Wagatsuma. The program purported to provide " therapy, counseling, and mental health treatment" for women inmates. Those who joined the program and complied with its requirements were housed in less restrictive jail environments. The LTS sessions involved " public sexual...

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