Unpublished Disposition, 851 F.2d 360 (9th Cir. 1988)

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U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit - 851 F.2d 360 (9th Cir. 1988)

Mildred Louise BLAS, etc., et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants,v.GOVERNMENT OF GUAM, et al., Defendants-Appellees.

No. 87-2066.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.

Submitted April 13, 1988.* Decided June 28, 1988.

Before GOODWIN, SCHROEDER and POOLE, Circuit Judges.


On January 17, 1984, John Marvin Blas, an inmate at the Guam Penitentiary, was killed by unknown persons. On May 20, 1986, the plaintiffs filed a complaint against defendant prison officials, alleging that they are liable for violating Blas' civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (1982) and for wrongful death.

The district court granted the defendants' motion for dismissal on the ground that the plaintiffs failed to file the complaint within the appropriate standard of limitations. On appeal, the sole issue is whether the plaintiffs' Sec. 1983 action is covered by Guam's two-year personal injury and wrongful death statute of limitations, Guam Civ.Proc.Code Sec. 339, or by the three-year statute of limitations applicable to " [a]n action upon a liability created by law," Guam Civ.Proc.Code Sec. 338(1).

In Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S. 261, 276-80 (1985), the Supreme Court held that "Sec. 1983 claims are best characterized as personal injury actions" when determining the applicable statute of limitations. However, we held in Gibson v. United States, 781 F.2d 1334, 1338-40 (9th Cir. 1986), cert. denied, 107 S. Ct. 928 (1987), that Wilson should not be applied retroactively to shorten the statute of limitations where, as here, the plaintiffs' claim arose before Wilson was decided.

In Ngiraingas v. Sanchez, No. 86-2840, slip op. 6673, 6688 (June 7, 1988), we found that the three-year statute of limitations of Guam Civ.Proc.Code Sec. 338(1) is applicable in a pre-Wilson Sec. 1983 action for assault, battery and false imprisonment. Because we find that the instant case may not appropriately be distinguished from Ngiraingas, we reverse the district court's decision that the plaintiffs' Sec. 1983 action is barred by the two-year statute of limitations.



This panel unanimously agrees that this case is appropriate for submission without oral argument. Fed. R. App. P. 34(a) and Ninth Circuit Rule 34-4


This disposition is not appropriate for publication and may not be cited to or by the courts of this circuit except as provided by Ninth Circuit Rule 36-3