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Brown v. Edinger

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

June 4, 2015

JOSEPH A. BROWN, Plaintiff,
v.
MATT EDINGER, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and USP LEWISBURG, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM

JOSEPH F. SAPORITO, Jr., Magistrate Judge.

I. Background and Procedural History:

On June 13, 2014, the plaintiff, Joseph A. Brown ("Brown"), then an inmate at the United States Penitentiary at Lewisburg ("USP Lewisburg"), filed a complaint against the defendants.[1] (Doc. 1). Brown alleges that defendant, Matt Edinger ("Edinger"), a correctional counselor at USP Lewisburg, retaliated against him from his right to access the courts. (Doc. 1, IV. 1). Further, he alleged that Edinger "used systemic[2] retaliation during the month of July, 2012" after Brown requested that he and his cell mate be transferred to different cells due to incompatibility. (Id. ) Brown also alleged a negligence claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) related to the same allegations of retaliation. (Id. )

On October 6, 2014, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss and/or summary judgment. (Doc. 17).[3] On December 1, 2014, Brown filed a motion to amend complaint (Doc. 29) seeking to add "Officer Beavers" as a defendant. On December 29, 2014, Brown filed a motion to clarify (Doc. 39) seeking to clarify his statements made in his opposition brief (Doc. 26) to defendants' motion to dismiss and motion for summary judgment (Doc. 17). On the same date, Brown filed a motion to supplement (Doc. 40) his opposition brief (Doc. 26). On January 28, 2015, Brown filed a motion to add and amend (Doc. 41) relating to our consideration of case law on the motion to amend complaint (Doc. 29). Finally, on April 2, 2015, Brown filed another motion to add and amend (Doc. 44) relating to our consideration of case law on the motion to amend complaint (Doc. 29). It appears that the defendants do not contest Brown's motions set out in Docs. 39, 40, 41, and 44 as no opposition briefs have been filed. We will deem those motions unopposed under L.R. 7.6[4] and construe them as supplements to Brown's briefs.

We are left with Brown's contested motion to amend complaint (Doc. 29). For the reasons set forth below, we shall deny the motion.

The applicable limitation period in this case, a Bivens action, is Pennsylvania's two-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims. See Brown v. Tollackson, 314 Fed.App'x 407, 408 (3d Cir. 2008) (per Curiam); Millbrook v. United States, 8 F.Supp. 3d 601, 610 (M.D. Pa. 2014); see also 42 Pa. C.S.A. ยง 5524. Brown filed his original complaint on June 13, 2014. The incident which forms the basis for Brown's complaint allegedly occurred on July 28, 2012. Brown signed and dated the instant motion to amend his complaint to add Officer Beavers as a defendant to this action on November 24, 2014, almost four months after the statute of limitations expired. At the time Brown filed the motion to amend he was a federal prisoner, incarcerated at USP Lewisburg. As such, his motion is deemed to have been filed upon presentation to prison authorities for mailing, rather than its receipt by the court. See Houston v. Lack, 487 U.S. 266, 270-71 (1988) (articulating the "prison mailbox rule"). Brown's motion to amend identifies Officer Beavers as a new defendant by name and details some of the factual allegations Brown wishes to add to his complaint. Brown failed to attach a complete copy of the proposed amended complaint to these motions, as required by the local civil rules. See, L.R. 15.1(a);[5] See also Fletcher v. Harlee Corp. v. Pote Concrete Contractors, Inc., 482 F.3d 247, 252 (3d Cir. 2007) ("[F]ailure to submit a draft amended complaint is fatal to a request for leave to amend."); Lake v. Arnold, 232 F.3d 360, 374 (3d Cir. 2000) ("[F]ailure to provide a draft amended complaint [is] an adequate basis on which the court could deny plaintiff's request.").

Nevertheless, upon review of the submission papers and after review of the record and applicable case law, we will proceed to address the motion to amend on the merits. Brown argues that this proposed amendment does not violate the statute of limitations because the amendment would relate back to the original timely filed complaint under Fed. R. Civ. P 15(c). Rule 15(c) provides:

(c) Relation Back of Amendments.
(1) When Amendment Relates Back. An amendment to a pleading relates back to the date of the original pleading when:
(A) the law that provides the applicable statute of limitations allows relation back;
(B) the amendment asserts a claim or defense that arose out of the 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 and complaint, the party to be brought in by amendment:
(i) received such notice of the action that it will not be prejudiced in defending on the merits; and
(ii) knew or should have known that the action would have been brought against it, but for a mistake concerning ...

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