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Larios v. United States

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

June 19, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, et al., Defendants.


ROBERT D. MARIANI, District Judge.

I. Background

On August 11, 2014, Plaintiff, Ricardo Larios, an inmate currently confined at the Schuylkill Federal Correctional Institution in Minersville, Pennsylvania, ("FCI Schuylkill"), initiated the instant action pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act ("FTCA"), 28 U.S.C. ยง 2671, et seq. (Doc. 1). The complaint names as Defendants the United States of America, the United States Department of Justice, and the Bureau of Prisons. ( Id. ).

In the complaint, Plaintiff states that when he was being transported to FCI Schuylkill, he was temporarily housed at the Metropolitan Detention Center, Brooklyn, New York, ("MDC Brooklyn"), and forced to sleep in a top-bunk, despite having a medical slip indicating that he is unable to sleep in a top-bunk due to epileptic seizures. ( Id. at p. 6). Plaintiff alleges that, on July 27, 2012 while at MDC Brooklyn, he suffered a seizure, fell out of a top-bunk, and sustained injuries. ( Id. at pp. 11, 22). He alleges that Defendants were reckless and negligent in assigning him to a top-bunk. ( Id. at pp. 7, 22). Plaintiff further alleges that Defendants failed to provide medical treatment and retaliated against him. ( Id. at pp. 21-22; Doc. 1-1, p. 15).

Presently before the Court is Plaintiff's motion for leave to amend his complaint. (Doc. 21). Plaintiff "seeks to amend his FTCA Complaint in order to clarify and assert the claims and legal theories involved in this action." ( Id. at p. 2). For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's motion for leave to amend will be granted.

II. Discussion

The filing of an Amended Complaint is governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a):

(1) Amending as a Matter of Course. A party may amend its pleading once as a matter of course within:
(A) 21 days after serving it, or
(B) if the pleading is one to which a responsive pleading is required, 21 days after service of a responsive pleading or 21 days after service of a motion under Rule 12(b), (e), or (f), whichever is earlier.
(2) Other Amendments. In all other cases, 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.

FED. R. CIV. P. 15(a). This Court's Local Rules require that a proposed amended pleading accompany a motion. See Local Rule 15.1(a).

The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has adopted a liberal approach to the amendment of pleadings in order to ensure that "a particular claim will be decided on the merits rather than on technicalities." Dole v. Arco Chemical Co., 921 F.2d 484, 486-87 (3d Cir. 1990). Amendment, however, is not automatic. See Dover Steel Co., Inc. v. Hartford Accident and Indem. Co., 151 F.R.D. 570, 574 (E.D. Pa. 1993). Leave to amend should be granted absent a showing of "undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on the part of the movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing party by virtue of the allowance of the amendment, futility of amendment, etc." Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962); see also Oran v. Stafford, 226 F.3d 275, 291 (3d Cir. 2000). Futility of amendment occurs when the complaint, as amended, does not state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1434 (3d Cir. 1997). If the proposed amendment "is frivolous or advances a claim or defense that is legally insufficient on its face, the court may deny leave to amend." Harrison Beverage Co. v. Dribeck Importers, Inc., 133 F.R.D. 463, 468 (D. N.J. 1990).

Based on the procedural history of this case, Plaintiff may file an amended complaint as a matter of course. Plaintiff's original complaint was filed on August 11, 2014. (Doc. 1). On November 17, 2014, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. (Doc. 16). Thus, Plaintiff's amended pleading was due on or before December 8, 2014. On December 7, 2014, Plaintiff filed a motion for extension of time to respond to Defendants' motion. (Doc. 19). By order dated December 17, 2014, Plaintiff was granted an extension of time until February 1, 2015 to file a brief in opposition to Defendants' motion. (Doc. 20). Rather ...

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