of the complaint would needlessly delay trial. In his motion, the plaintiff has also requested sixty days from the date of any order granting the motion to amend to conduct discovery against the two new defendants. If this is all the time which will be needed to complete discovery in this case with the addition of two new parties, then we do not believe that the disposition of this case will be greatly delayed. We, therefore, believe that it would be more prejudicial to the plaintiff were leave to amend not granted than it would be prejudicial to the defendants, if it were.
The defendants further argue that amendment should be denied because it would be futile. The defendants say at page 5 of their Memorandum of Law: "It is submitted that upon completion of all discovery, Plaintiff has still failed to establish the existence of any policy or procedure with respect to his arrest, testing done of the substances which were taken, and follow-up action after the test results were received which rise to a deliberate and intentional violation of Plaintiff's civil rights or which would impose any liability on Bensalem Township." (The defendants make no arguments as to futility and the propriety of amendment as it pertains to the District Attorney's Office). The plaintiff counters with a series of citations to pages in the depositions of defendants Maust and Carroll. We have reviewed them and we believe that they may provide a basis for an amended complaint's allegations against these two new defendants. We believe, at this time, that amendment would not be futile, although we have some doubts.
Finally, the defendants argue that the statute of limitations bars amendment of the complaint.
Under federal law, a civil rights cause of action accrues when the plaintiff knew or had reason to know of the injury that constitutes the basis of his action. Sandutch v. Muroski, 684 F.2d 252, 254 (3d Cir. 1982). This standard compels us to ask two questions: when could these defendants have injured the plaintiff; and (2) when did the plaintiff know or have reason to know of any injury?
The two new defendants were not aware of the true nature of the substances found on the plaintiff's person until late January - early February, 1986. If the plaintiff suffered any injury at the hands of the defendants, it would have to have been inflicted in late January - early February, 1986.
This is assuming, of course, that the plaintiff can prove to the trier of fact that an unlawful policy was responsible for the plaintiff's continuing incarceration on drug charges.
The next issue is: when did the plaintiff know or have reason to know of any injury? There is nothing presently in the record to indicate that the plaintiff received a copy of the lab report at any time. His case was nol prossed on May 10, 1986 with the notation that the substances did not "qualify as counterfeit (noncontrolled substance)." This notation should have put the plaintiff on notice that, sometime before May 10, 1986, the two new defendants had known of the chemical analysis of the substances found on his person. As the facts now stand, we believe that the plaintiff, as of May 10, 1986, should have been put on notice to investigate any possible violation of his rights.
In an action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the relevant statute of limitations
is determined by the state statute of limitations applicable to personal injuries. Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S. 261, 85 L. Ed. 2d 254, 105 S. Ct. 1938 (1985). In Pennsylvania, 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 5524(2) (Purdon Supp. 1988) permits actions for personal injuries to be brought within two years.
The plaintiff's cause of action accrued on May 10, 1986, when he had reason to suspect that an injury might have been done him. The plaintiff thus had two years - until May 10, 1986 - in which to bring a cause of action based upon a violation of his constitutional rights. The plaintiff filed his motion to amend on February 24, 1988. That date was certainly within the two-year period allowed from May 10, 1986. The defendants' argument against allowing amendment of the complaint, based on the bar of the statute of limitations, must, therefore, also fail.
Since we have found that the amendment would not unduly prejudice the defendants, that the plaintiff might perhaps be able to adduce evidence of a "policy" underlying the deprivation of his constitutional rights, and that no statute of limitations bars amendment of the complaint, we shall grant the plaintiff's motion.
An appropriate order follows.
AND NOW, this 20th day of September, 1988, the plaintiff's Motion to Amend the Complaint and to Extend Time for Discovery is hereby GRANTED. The plaintiff is allowed sixty (60) days from the date of this Order to complete discovery against Bensalem Township and the Bucks County District Attorney's Office. The plaintiff is granted an additional 10 days in which to file an amended complaint.