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Shiloh v. Hassinger

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

July 17, 2015

LISA LEE SHILOH, Plaintiff,
v.
CORPORAL KENNETH HASSINGER, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM

KAROLINE MEHALCHICK, Magistrate Judge.

This matter is before the Court by way of Plaintiff's motion for leave to file an amended complaint to add new parties. (Doc. 106). For the reasons provided herein, the Court will deny Plaintiff's motion.[1]

I. BACKGROUND

On June 8, 2012, Plaintiff Lisa Lee Shiloh, proceeding pro se, filed the instant civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983, asserting claims under the Fourth, Fifth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, and Article I, Section 8 of the Pennsylvania Constitution against a number of John Doe Defendants and named officers. (Doc. 1). Shiloh's claims arise out of the execution of a search warrant and her arrest on June 15, 2010, at her residence in Littlestown, Pennsylvania. (Doc. 1).

Prior to service of the complaint, the Court dismissed all claims against Defendants, but granted Shiloh leave to amend her complaint only with respect to her Fourth Amendment excessive force claim and Fourteenth Amendment denial of medical care claim. (Doc. 11). On December 3, 2012, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint. The Court again dismissed all claims in the amended complaint with the exception of Shiloh's Fourth Amendment excessive force claims against John Doe Defendants. (Doc. 32-2, at 1). On May 20, 2013, the Court issued an Order directing the United States Marshal to serve Plaintiff's amended complaint. (Doc. 37). On May 30, 2013, the summons was returned unexecuted because the John Doe Defendants could not be sufficiently identified. (Doc. 41) On June 6, 2013, Shiloh was directed to provide the Court with the names of her John Doe Defendants within sixty (60) days of the date of the Order so that service could be effectuated. (Doc. 42). On August 9, 2013, Shiloh filed an amended complaint identifying the following individuals as defendants against whom she was asserting her remaining Fourth Amendment excessive force claim: Corporal Kenneth Hassinger, Trooper James O'Shea, Trooper Christopher Keppel, Trooper John Brumbaugh, Trooper David Olweiler, Edward Crouse, Officer Douglas Hilyard, and Scott Miller. (Doc. 49). She indicated that other unnamed defendants existed but that she was unable to identify those defendants. On March 24, 2014, the Court dismissed John Doe Defendants pursuant to Rule 4(m) and Rule 21 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Doc. 70). On January 28, 2014, summons was issued as to the named Defendants. (Doc. 66). On June 11, 2014, the Defendants waived service, almost four years after the incident that is the subject of this instant action. (Doc. 75).

On December 22, 2014, Shiloh filed a motion for leave to file an amended complaint. (Doc. 106). In her motion, she alleges that she has only recently received discovery withheld from Defendants and on the basis of that discovery, she is finally able to identify previously dismissed John Doe defendants. Specifically, she requests that this Court grant her leave to add the following defendants to her civil action: Sergeant Gary Carter, Corporal Douglas Hewell, Corporal Barry Brinser, Corporal Michael Kapp, Corporal Thomas Barton, Sergeant Skrutski, Lieutenant Joseph B. Wilson, Trooper John Mallon, Trooper Yount, Koch, Tremba, Radziewicz, Rowlands, Lang, Fow, Broaddus, Davis, Talijan, Pelotte, Frisk, Wirth, Allar, Eisenhower, Fidati, Edwards, Debellis, Gaspich, Sandusky, Merante, Williams, and Thomas Alstead. (Doc. 106). On January 30, 2015, Defendants filed a brief in opposition to Shiloh's motion for leave to file an amended complaint. (Doc. 118). On February 17, 2015, Shiloh filed a reply brief. (Doc. 123).

II. DISCUSSION

A. LEGAL STANDARD

While "Rule 15(a) favors a liberal policy for the amendment of pleadings, if a litigant seeks to add a party after the statute of limitations on its claim has run, the essence of Rule 15(a) is not reached, ' unless the Court finds that the requirements of... 15(c), which governs the relation back of amendments, have been satisfied." Wine v. EMSA Ltd. P'ship, 167 F.R.D. 34, 36 (E.D. Pa. 1996)(quoting Cruz v. City of Camden, 898 F.Supp. 1100, 1115 (D.N.J.1995)). Here, it is uncontested that the statute of limitations on Shiloh's claims expired in June 15, 2012, as the incidents giving rise to the above-captioned action transpired in June 15, 2010. See Bougher v. Univ. of Pittsburgh, 882 F.2d 74, 78 (3d Cir.1989). Thus, Shiloh "may not add the proposed new defendants to this action unless the proposed... [a]mended [c]omplaint relates back' to the date of h[is] original filing" on June 8, 2012. Wine, 167 F.R.D. at 36.

An amended complaint will relate back only if three conditions specified in Rule 15(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure are satisfied. Rule 15(c) states, in relevant part:

(1) Relation Back of Amendments. An amendment of a pleading relates back to the date of the original pleading when...
B. the claim or defense asserted in the amended pleading arose out of the conduct, transaction, or occurrence set forth or attempted to be set forth in the original pleading, or
C. the amendment changes the party or the naming of the party against whom a claim is asserted if the foregoing provision (2) is satisfied and, within the period provided by Rule 4(m) for service of the summons ...

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