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Robinson v. Adams

August 3, 2010

BRIAHEEM ROBINSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JOYCE ADAMS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM

I. BACKGROUND

Pro se Plaintiff Briaheem Robinson, an inmate at the State Correctional Institution at Greene, Pennsylvania ("SCI-Greene"), originally filed Eighth Amendment claims against various Defendants based on their alleged failure to protect him from other inmates and Defendants' deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs while he was incarcerated. (Doc. No. 3.) Plaintiff has been appointed counsel. Presently before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint. (Doc. No. 27.) In the Amended Complaint, Plaintiff seeks to add two new defendants, Lieutenant Hopkins and Officer John Doe. Defendants oppose the addition of Lieutenant Hopkins, but do not oppose the addition of Officer Doe. For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(2) provides that after a responsive pleading has been filed, "a party may amend its pleading only with the opposing party's written consent or the court's leave. The court should freely give leave when justice so requires." Amendments to a complaint pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 15 are "liberally granted" and "rest within the sound discretion of the trial court." Massarsky v. Gen. Motors Corp., 706 F.2d 111, 125 (3d Cir. 1983); see also Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962). A pro se plaintiff is liberally granted leave to amend when he does not follow "the technical rules of pleading and procedure." Tabron v. Grace, 6 F.3d 147, 153 n.2 (3d Cir. 1993); see Nelson v. ARA Food Serv., No. 94-4542, 1995 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6673, *6 (E.D. Pa. May 18, 1995) ("Leave to amend should be liberally granted when the party seeking leave to amend appears pro se."); Wallace v. Marks, No. 82-0034, 1985 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17818, *3 (E.D. Pa. July 17, 1985) (allowing plaintiff's recently appointed counsel to amend a complaint that was filed pro se to add new corrections officer defendants).

A motion to amend a complaint should be denied where the proposed amendment is futile. A claim is futile under Fed. R. Civ. P. 15 "where the amendment would not withstand a motion to dismiss." Massarsky, 706 F.2d at 125; see also Jablonski v. Pan Am. World Airways, Inc., 863 F.2d 289, 292 (3d Cir. 1988); Smith v. Am. Red Cross, 876 F.Supp. 64, 67 (E.D. Pa. 1994).

III. DISCUSSION

Here, Defendants argue that Plaintiff's Amended Complaint is time barred as to Lieutenant Hopkins because the two-year statute of limitations has expired, and for this reason the Amended Complaint would not survive a motion to dismiss. (Def.'s Mem. Opp'n Pl.'s Mot. Amend Compl. 4.)

Plaintiff argues, however, that his Amended Complaint "relates back" to the date of his original Complaint under Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(c) for statute of limitations purposes. Singletary v. Pa. Dep't of Corr., 266 F.3d 186, 193 (3d Cir. 2001) ("[Rule] 15(c) can ameliorate the running of the statute of limitations on a claim by making the amended claim relate back to the original, timely filed complaint."); Garvin v. City of Phila., 354 F.3d 215, 220 (3d Cir. 2003) (Rule 15(c)(3) "aims to ameliorate the harsh result of the strict application of the statute of limitations."); Urrutia v. Harrisburg Cnty. Police Dep't, 91 F.3d 451, 457 (3d Cir. 1996) (describing Rule 15(c)).

Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(c) provides in relevant part:

(c) Relation Back of Amendments.

(1) When an Amendment Relates Back. An amendment to a pleading relates back to the date of the original pleading when: . . .

(B) the amendment asserts a claim or defense that arose out of that conduct, transaction, or occurrence set out - or attempted to be set out - in the original pleading; or

(C) the amendment changes the party or the naming of the party against whom a claim is asserted, if Rule 15(c)(1)(B) is satisfied and if, within the period provided by Rule 4(m) for serving the summons ...


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