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Todd Darrell Ballard v. Co 1 Williams

December 11, 2012

TODD DARRELL BALLARD, PLAINTIFF
v.
CO 1 WILLIAMS, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: (Magistrate Judge Carlson)

(Judge Caputo)

MEMORANDUM ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

Now pending before the Court is plaintiff's motion seeking reconsideration of the Court's order denying him leave to file a second amended complaint in this action in order to name Nurse Marcie Boyer as a defendant in this case, in place of the "Jane Doe" defendant previously named in her place, and to have this putative amended complaint served up Ms. Boyer. (Doc. 114.) We previously denied plaintiff's motion for leave to amend because we found that the claims against Nurse Boyer were time barred by the applicable statute of limitations, and because the legal requirements for the proposed amended complaint to relate back to the date of the original complaint filed in this case were not satisfied. (Doc. 113.)

Upon consideration, although we appreciate that plaintiff claims to have encountered difficulty in determining Ms. Boyer's identity during the course of this litigation, and although we find plaintiff has made non-frivolous arguments in support of his motion for reconsideration, ultimately we are not prepared to depart from our earlier conclusion that he has failed to show that his proposed amended complaint naming Ms. Boyer as a defendant meets any of the requirements of Rule 15(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and we, therefore, continue to find that leave should not be granted to amend.

The fact remains that plaintiff's claims in this case relate to injuries he allegedly sustained in March 2008, more than four and one-half years ago; the statute of limitations applicable to plaintiff's claims is two years; and Ms. Boyer has submitted an affidavit in which she attests that remained entirely unaware of this litigation until August 2012 -- more than two years after this litigation was initiated, and some 50 months after the events described in the complaint. Although plaintiff argues that his pursuit of administrative remedies within the Department of Corrections, and his commencement of this litigation against other prison and medical personnel, should have been sufficient to put Ms. Boyer on constructive notice of this lawsuit, consistent with case law we continue to disagree. Simply put, we do not find that Ms. Boyer had an identity of interest with other defendants in this lawsuit that put her on notice of this litigation. Likewise, plaintiff has been unable to show persuasively that the so-called "shared attorney" method of imputing notice has any application in this case; in fact, the evidence submitted by Ms. Boyer and the named defendants' counsel demonstrates otherwise. Instead, unable to demonstrate an identity of interest of share attorney method of imputing notice, plaintiff relies upon arguments that his inability to learn the identity of the Jane Doe defendant until recently should sufficient reason to compel Ms. Boyer to defend allegations against her in an action that she learned of only recently, and which relates to an incident occurring years ago. Plaintiff's difficulty in obtaining identifying information notwithstanding, we do not find that the inability to discover this information serves to relief plaintiff from complying with the requirements of Rule 15(c) with respect to the relation back of pleadings.

Accordingly, because we continue to find that plaintiff's proposed amended complaint adding Marcy Boyer as a defendant does not satisfy the requirements of Rule 15(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governing the relation-back of pleadings; and because continue to find that plaintiff's proposed claims against Ms. Boyer are barred by the applicable statute of limitations, we find no basis to reconsider our previous order, and plaintiff's motion for reconsideration will be denied.

II. BACKGROUND

Todd Darrell Ballard, an inmate formerly incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill who is proceeding pro se, commenced the above-captioned action in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania on June 28, 2010, asserting that prison staff and officials violated his constitutional rights following an altercation between Ballard and his cellmate on March 30, 2008. Ballard claims that corrections officers at SCI-Camp Hill entered his cell following the altercation, and that the officers assaulted him and burned him on a radiator during this process. (Doc. 68, Am. Compl.) In this regard, plaintiff alleges that he was slammed against the wall multiple times, and that he suffered burns when his head was pressed against a radiator after he was forced to the floor and handcuffed. Plaintiff also alleges that some of the defendants failed to intervene. (Id.) Ballard further avers that corrections staff stole some of his personal property, and he charges that Defendants Zobitne and Palakovich failed to investigate adequately his complaints about the alleged assault and stolen property after he filed a grievance regarding the March 30, 2008 incident.

In addition, Ballard sued three of the prison's physicians assistants, Linda Diebert, Kristin Barbacci, and Colleen Newfield, alleging that each rendered inadequate medical treatment to him for injuries that he sustained as a result of the alleged March 30, 2008 assault. In addition to these three named medical professionals, Ballard also sued a "Jane Doe" defendant, whom he claims is "a medical staff employee at SCI-Camp Hill," whom he claims took pictures of his injuries following the March 30, 2008 incident, but otherwise failed to provide any medical treatment for the injuries. (Id.)

The corrections defendants*fn1 moved to dismiss the complaint on the grounds that plaintiff's constitutional claims were barred by the two-year limitations period applicable to actions brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Additionally, these defendants moved to dismiss the claims against defendants Palakovich and Zobitne on the grounds that plaintiff's claims against them for their role in handling his grievance fail to state a cognizable claim upon which relief can be granted.

The medical defendants moved to dismiss plaintiff's claims against them for two different reasons. First, these defendants argued that to the extent plaintiff brought claims against them for alleged deliberate indifference to his medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment, these claims are time-barred or otherwise incapable of being brought in federal court because plaintiff failed to exhaust administrative remedies relating to them. Second, to the extent plaintiff's claims sound in negligence for medical malpractice under Pennsylvania state law, the medical defendants asserted that the claims must be dismissed because plaintiff failed to file a timely certificate of merit as required by Rule 1042.3 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure.

On December 9, 2010, we issued a report and recommendation in which we recommended that the motions be granted in part and denied in part. (Doc. 38.) On October 25, 2011, the district court entered an order that adopted the report and recommendation, and permitted plaintiff to file a second amended complaint. (Doc. 62.) On December 15, 2011, plaintiff filed a second amended complaint, which the corrections defendant and medical defendants have answered. (Docs. 68, 70, 71.)

By memorandum order dated July 31, 2012, the Court directed plaintiff to file a motion for leave to amend the complaint in order to substitute Nurse Marcie Boyer for the "Jane Doe" defendant named in the original caption. However, in that memorandum order, the Court took care to observe for plaintiff that the applicable statute of limitations governing plaintiff's claims against Nurse Boyer may be implicated, and that the facts may not satisfy the relation-back provisions of Rule 15(c)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to allow for plaintiff to bring his claims against Nurse Boyer at this time. (Doc. 103.) On August 6, 2012, plaintiff moved the Court to order service of the second amended complaint upon Nurse Boyer. (Doc. 105.) On August 17, 2012, plaintiff moved for leave to file a third amended complaint, in order to name Nurse Boyer as a defendant in place of the "Jane Doe" defendant he originally named. (Doc. 106.)

On September 24, 2012, we entered an order denying plaintiff's motion for leave to amend the complaint to substitute Marcy Boyer for the "Jane Doe" placeholder defendant named in the original pleading. (Doc. 113.) On October 10, 2012, plaintiff filed the ...


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