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Robinson v. Marsh

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

August 20, 2014

Mark Anthony ROBINSON, Plaintiff,
v.
ROBERT MARSH, et al., Defendants.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

MARTIN C. CARLSON, Magistrate Judge.

I. Statement of Facts and of the Case

This case comes before the Court for consideration of a motion to amend this previously amended complaint filed by the plaintiff, a motion which casts in sharp relief the plaintiff's casual indifference to the scheduling of this litigation as well as the rights and interests of opposing parties.

The plaintiff, Mark Anthony Robinson commenced this action on July 25, 2011, (Doc. 1.), complaining about a cell extraction which allegedly occurred in April 2011 at the State Correctional Institution-Rockview. (Id.) In his original complaint Robinson identified some of the correctional officers who he alleged participated in this event through fictitious names, as John Does 1 through 5. (Id.)

Robinson then indulged in what was often a leisurely, meandering course of litigation of these claims. Thus, when the defendants moved to dismiss this initial complaint in November 2011, Robinson sought leave to amend his complaint, and requested an extension of time in which to file an amended complaint. (Docs. 9, 10, 13.) This request was granted and Robinson was given an extension of time to amend his complaint until January 6, 2012. (Doc. 14.) Robinson failed to meet this deadline, and on the very date of this deadline sought another 30 day extension of time in which to amend his original complaint, which was granted on January 10, 2012. (Docs. 18, 19.) Robinson was then instructed to file his amended complaint on or before February 10, 2012. (Id.)

Robinson ignored this deadline as well, and allowed six months to lapse before filing yet another motion seeking leave to file an amended complaint on August 7, 2012, which Robinson tendered to the Court along with a proposed amended complaint. This motion was granted by the Court, and Robinson's amended complaint was filed in August 2012. (Docs. 33-35.) Despite the passage of these many months, however, Robinson took no steps in this amended complaint to identify the correctional officers he had previously labeled John Does 1 through 5. (Id.)

We then set a discovery schedule in this case which called for completion of discovery by December 30, 2013. (Doc. 55.) On May 1, 2013, we also instructed the defendants to identify these previously unidentified correctional officers for Robinson. (Doc. 58.) Defense counsel then promptly provided the names of these individuals to Robinson by letter dated May 21, 2013.

Robinson's response to this disclosure was marked by a curious indolence, and total inactivity, for more than a year. Armed with this information, Robinson took absolutely no action to add those individuals to this litigation as proper defendants for more than one year. Thus, Robinson never sought to timely amend his complaint to add these defendants, never endeavored to effectuate proper service of the amended complaint upon those individuals, and never sought to address any of his remaining claims against these individuals.

Instead, Robinson allowed discovery to draw to close, and permitted the defendants to twice move for summary judgment before belatedly filing a motion for leave to further amend his complaint. (Doc. 90.) This motion violated the provisions of the Court's Local Rule 15.1 in that Robinson did not provide us with a copy of any proposed amended complaint. Furthermore, this motion not only sought leave to amend the complaint and add new parties at this very late juncture in this litigation; it invited the Court to sanction and endorse further delay in the resolution of this matter. Thus, Robinson invited us to grant this motion to amend in the abstract without ever providing us with any proposed amended complaint. In addition to urging us to authorize the filing of what is now a hypothetical amended complaint Robinson requested that we direct some form of pre-filing supplemental discovery before Robinson would be required to even tender an amended complaint; allow Robinson 30 days after the completion of his supplemental discovery to prepare such an amended complaint; and then re-open discovery on the basis of this new proposed, but as of yet unseen, amended complaint.

The defendants have opposed this request, noted it is untimely, improper, and prejudicial. (Doc. 92.) For the reasons set forth below, we agree with defendants, and recommend that this motion to amend be denied.

II. Discussion

A. Rule 15-Standard of Review and Guiding Principles

Rule 15 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs the filing of amended complaints. Under Rule 15 decisions regarding motions to amend or supplement pleadings rest in the sound discretion of the district court and will not be disturbed absent a abuse of that discretion. See e.g., Bjorgung v. Whitetail Resort, LP , 550 F.3d 263 (3d Cir. 2008); Cureton v. National Collegiate Athletic Ass'n. , 252 F.3d 267 (3d Cir. 2001). That discretion, however, is governed by certain basic principles, principles that are embodied in Rule 15 itself. In this regard, while Rule 15 provides that leave to amend should be freely given when justice so requires, the district court still retains broad discretion to deny a motion to amend, Bjorgung v. Whitetail Resort, LP , 550 F.3d 263 (3d Cir. 2008); Cureton v. National Collegiate Athletic Ass'n. , 252 F.3d 267 (3d Cir. 2001), and may deny a request

If the plaintiff's delay in seeking to amend is undue, motivated by bad faith, or prejudicial to the opposing party. Adams, 739 F.2d at 864. Delay becomes "undue, " and thereby creates grounds for the district court to refuse leave, when it places an unwarranted burden on the court or when the plaintiff has had previous opportunities to amend. Cureton , 252 F.3d at 273 (citing Adams, 739 F.2d at 868; Lorenz v. CSX Corp. , 1 F.3d 1406, 1414 (3d Cir.1993)). Thus, our review of the question of undue delay... will "focus on the movant's reasons for not amending sooner, " Cureton , 252 F.3d at ...

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