The opinion of the court was delivered by: James Knoll Gardner United States District Judge
This matter is before the court on Plaintiff's Motion to Amend
Plaintiff's Complaint to Include a Jury Trial Demand, which motion was
filed April 4, 2012 ("Plaintiff's Motion"). *fn1
On April 18, 2012 Trooper Thomas W. Koebley and Trooper
Peter Minko's Response in Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion to Amend
the Complaint to Include a Jury Demand was filed ("Defendants'
For the reasons expressed below, I grant Plaintiff's Motion to Amend Plaintiff's Complaint to Include a Jury Trial Demand. *fn2
Specifically, I find that plaintiff's claim brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 is suitable for a jury; granting the within motion would not cause significant disruption to the schedule of the court or defendants; defendants will not suffer prejudice; the delay in filing the within motion does not weigh against plaintiff; and although plaintiff fails to justify the failure to file a timely jury demand, plaintiff's previous pro se status mitigates the lack of justification for failing to timely file a jury demand.
More specifically, the Seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees parties the right to a trial by jury in § 1983 actions, and defendants do not assert otherwise. Additionally, granting plaintiff's motion will not cause the court or defendants unreasonable hardship or prejudice because the court can arrange the scheduling of this case as a jury trial and defendants have been aware of plaintiff's intention to demand a jury since March 15, 2012. Defendants have had ample notice of the prospect of a jury trial and have had the entire period of discovery to prepare for a trial by jury.
The length of the delay in plaintiff seeking to add a jury demand comes to 117 (from his December 9, 2011 deadline to serve defendants with a written jury demand to April 4, 2012 when he filed the within motion to amend his Complaint to include a jury trial demand) *fn3 . Although a delay of 117 days is not a short delay, the impact from the length of the delay and plaintiff's lack of an excusable justification is mitigated by the absence of prejudice to defendants and the fact that a substantial amount of the delay was because of the inadvertence of a pro se plaintiff. Thus, I grant plaintiff's motion.
Jurisdiction in this case is based upon federal question jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Plaintiff alleges that defendants violated his Constitutional rights and brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Venue is proper because plaintiff alleges that defendants' conduct giving rise to the § 1983 claim occurred in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, which is within this district. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 118, 1391(b).
On August 30, 2011 plaintiff Jehu Walter Young, acting pro se , filed a Complaint dated August 19, 2011 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The Complaint was prepared on what appears to be a standard fill-in-the-blanks form, presumably provided by the Clerk of Court of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to pro se litigants. The blanks in the form Complaint were completed in handwriting, presumably by plaintiff, and the "Signature of Plaintiff" blank contains the signature "Jehu W. Young". The "Basis for Jurisdiction" and "Statement of Claim" sections of the form Complaint allege "unjustified enforcement" and "brutality" *fn4 against Pennsylvania State Troopers Thomas W. Kolbley and Peter Miko *fn5 arising from an incident following a traffic stop which occurred on August 20, 2009. *fn6
The Complaint form used by plaintiff provides plaintiff the option and opportunity to endorse a demand for jury trial on the Complaint. On the first page of the Complaint, to the right of the caption immediately beneath the word "Complaint", the preprinted language reads "Jury Trial:" followed by a box for "Yes" and a box for "No", followed by the words "(check one)". Mr. Young failed to check either the "Yes" box or the "No" box on the Complaint.
Both defendants were properly served with the Summons and Complaint on November 17, 2011. *fn7 On November 22, 2011 Troopers Thomas W. Koebley and Trooper Peter Minko's Answer to Plaintiff's Complaint was filed. *fn8
On February 12, 2012, Sandra I. Thompson, Esquire, entered her appearance on behalf of plaintiff. Prior to Attorney Thompson's ...