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Brown v. City of Philadelphia

May 7, 2010

DWIGHT BROWN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jones II, J.

MEMORANDUM

This matter arises out of an incident which occurred on December 8, 2007, during which police officers attempting to stop an automobile in which Plaintiff was a passenger allegedly fired their weapons at the vehicle, injuring Plaintiff. Plaintiff brings claims for excessive use of police force and for failure to investigate, train, supervise and/or discipline, both in violation of 42 U.S.C. §1983, as well as state law claims for assault and battery and intentional inflection of emotional distress*fn1 . A Motion to Amend the Complaint was filed on April 1, 2010. Presently before the Court is the Motion to Amend (Dkt. No. 8) ("Motion"), Defendant SEPTA's Opposition thereto (Dkt. No. 10) ("SEPTA Opp."), and Defendant City of Philadelphia's Opposition thereto ("City Opp.") (Dkt. No. 11). Having carefully considered the arguments advanced by counsel, the Court will deny the Motion for the reasons set forth below.

II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On or about December 8, 2007, around 2:00 a.m., Plaintiff was a rear-seat passenger of a motor vehicle exiting a parking lot near 2nd and Chestnut Streets in Philadelphia. At that time, a SEPTA police officer initiated a traffic stop and ordered the driver to turn off the engine and exit the car. The driver ignored the SEPTA police officer's directive and began driving away. As he did so, the SEPTA police officer and a City police officer, who had arrived to assist, opened fire into the fleeing vehicle. Two rounds of ammunition hit Plaintiff, causing various injuries requiring hospitalization.

Plaintiff filed suit on November 6, 2009. At the time he filed suit, Plaintiff named five "John Doe" defendants--because he did not know the identity of the individual police officers who shot him--in both their individual and official capacities. SEPTA filed its Answer to Plaintiff's Complaint on January 6, 2010, and the City filed its Answer on January 19, 2010.

By Order dated January 20, 2010, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16, this Court scheduled a teleconference to be held on March 4, 2010 (Dkt. No. 4). The Court further ordered the parties to exchange the required initial disclosures pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(a) on or before February 3, 2010. See Dkt. No. 4. SEPTA served its initial disclosures via first-class mail on February 3, 2010. See Ex. B to the Motion. SEPTA's disclosures informed Plaintiff for the first time as to the identity of the police officers in question, specifically, SEPTA police officer Samuel Washington and City police officer David Blackburn. The disclosure did not provide an address or telephone number for Officer Washington, but stated that Officer Washington could be contacted through SEPTA's counsel. See id.

The Rule 16 teleconference was subsequently rescheduled for March 24, 2010. The City served its initial disclosures via first-class mail on March 12, 2010. See Ex. C to Motion. The disclosures did not provide an address or telephone number for Officer Blackburn. See id.

Plaintiff served his initial disclosures via electric mail on March 18, 2010. See Ex. D to Motion. In that same correspondence to SEPTA and the City's counsel, Plaintiff stated that Defendants' disclosures suggested that: we can name two of the 'John Doe' defendants. SEPTA Police Officer Samuel Washington, badge number 365 and Philadelphia Police Officer David Blackburn badge number 1267. Please advise if you have any objections to naming them as defendants. Additionally, I have enclosed Plaintiff's Interrogatories and Request for Production of Documents addressed to the City of Philadelphia, SEPTA, and Officers Washington and Blackburn.

Ex. D to Motion.

In a March 23, 2010 email, counsel for SEPTA confirmed his conversation of the day before with Plaintiff's counsel, wherein he informed Plaintiff's counsel of his objection to Plaintiff's proposed amendment of the Complaint so as to name Officers Washington and Blackburn:

I also informed you that my client will not permit me to accept service of the discovery directed to Officer Washington since he is not a party to this action. And, I do not represent Officer Washington. I also informed you that SEPTA will not allow me to stipulate to amend the Complaint to add Officer Washington or the involved Philadelphia Police Officer as a defendant. I informed you that I served my Rule 26 Disclosures to you in early February and the names of the officers were included in the documents I supplied. I informed you that it was SEPTA's position that you had 120 days from November 6, 20[09] to add Officer Washington as a defendant; and the relation back doctrine may not work because the statute of limitations expired. I checked Rule 15(c)(3) and re-checked the Singletary case (Third Circuit) that I mentioned in our phone conversation. SEPTA's legal position is sound.

Ex. E to Motion. In a telephone conversation on March 23, 2010, the City's attorney objected to amendment as well. See Motion at 2.

On March 24, 2010, the Court held its scheduled teleconference pursuant to Rule 16. At that time, Plaintiff's counsel brought the proposed amendment to the Court's attention. The Court instructed Plaintiff's counsel to file this Motion. On April 1, 2010, Plaintiff moved to amend his Complaint to add allegations concerning SEPTA Officer Washington and City Officer Blackburn.*fn2 Plaintiff's proposed Amended Complaint includes five counts. The first count asserts claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments against individual officers;*fn3 the second count asserts claims under state law for assault and battery against all Defendants; the third count asserts a failure to investigate, train, supervise ...


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