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Easley v. Tritt

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

April 23, 2018

WAREN EASLEY, Plaintiff
v.
BRENDA TRITT, et al. Defendants

          MEMORANDUM

          SYLVIA H. RAMBO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This action, filed by pro se Plaintiff Warrant Easley (“Easley”), is proceeding on an amended complaint filed on July 26, 2017 pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. No. 11.) Easley is currently incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Smithfield, in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania (“SCI-Smithfield”). The allegations that give rise to this action occurred while Easley was incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Frackville, Pennsylvania (“SCI-Frackville”). (Id.) Easley asserts a variety of federal civil rights claims against 17 Defendants, all of whom appear to be connected with SCI-Frackville and the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (“DOC”). Currently pending before the Court are Defendants' motions to dismiss Easley's amended complaint (Doc. Nos. 23, 24), and Easley's motion for leave to file a second amended complaint (Doc. No. 45).

         I. BACKGROUND

         On May 26, 2017, Easley filed his original complaint asserting civil rights claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against 18 Defendants based on events alleged to have occurred while Easley was incarcerated at SCI-Frackville. (Doc. No. 1.) Upon conducting its statutorily-mandated screening review of the complaint prior to service of process, the Court dismissed several claims and Defendants without prejudice and directed Easley to file an amended complaint. (Doc. Nos. 8, 9).

         Plaintiff filed an amended complaint on July 26, 2017. (Doc. No. 11.) The amended complaint, totaling 232 paragraphs, purports to allege a variety of legal claims against 17 Defendants for violations of various federal civil rights, including violations of Easley's First and Eighth Amendment rights through deliberate indifference, denial of medical care, failure to protect, retaliation, access to courts, condition-of-confinement, and excessive force. (Doc. No. 11.) After accepting service of Easley's amended complaint, Defendants filed motions to dismiss on October 23, 2017 (Doc. Nos. 23, 24), and briefs in support thereof on December 6, 2017 (Doc. No. 34-38) and December 20, 2017 (Doc. No. 40). On December 27, 2017, the Court granted Easley an extension of time to file a brief in opposition to Defendants' motions to dismiss. (Doc. No. 44.) On January 22, 2018, rather than file a brief in opposition, Easley filed a motion for leave to file a second amended complaint and attached the proposed second amended complaint. (Doc. Nos. 45, 47.)

         Easley's proposed second amended complaint totals 352 paragraphs and seeks to add an additional 7 Defendants to the 17 Defendants already named in the amended complaint. (Doc. No. 47.) It appears that Easley's proposed second amended complaint, in addition to adding 7 new Defendants, raises the same alleged civil rights violations as his amended complaint, but further elaborates on his averments. (Id.) Defendants filed a brief in opposition to Easley's motion for leave to file a second amended complaint on February 20, 2018, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 20. (Doc. No. 51.) Easley filed a reply brief on March 8, 2018. (Doc. No. 52.) This matter having been fully briefed, is ripe for consideration.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15, a party may amend its pleading once as a matter of course within 21 days of serving it, or 21 days after the service of a responsive pleading or motion under Rule 12(b), (e), or (f), whichever is earlier. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1). In all other circumstances, a party may amend its pleading only with the opposing party's written consent or with leave of court. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). Rule 15 embodies a liberal approach to amendment and specifies that “leave shall be freely given when justice so requires.” Dole v. Arco Chemical Co., 921 F.2d 484, 486-87 (3d Cir. 1990); Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1)(2). “An applicant seeking leave to amend a pleading has the burden of showing that justice requires the amendment.” Katzenmoyer v. City of Reading, 158 F.Supp.2d 491, 497 (E.D. Pa. 2001); see Garvin v. City of Phila., 354 F.3d 215, 222 (3d Cir. 2003) (explaining that a plaintiff must show that the elements of Rule 15(c) are met to change the party or the naming of the party against whom claims are asserted).

         “The policy favoring liberal amendment of pleadings is not, however, unbounded.” Dole, 921 F.2d at 487. Factors which may weigh against amendment include “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 allowance of the amendment, futility of amendment, etc.” Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962). Amendment of the complaint is futile if the amendment would not cure the deficiency in the original complaint or if the amended complaint cannot withstand a motion to dismiss. See Massarsky v. General Motors Corp., 706 F.2d 111, 125 (3d Cir. 1983), cert. denied 464 U.S. 937 (1983).

         III. DISCUSSION

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 20, titled Permissive Joinder of Parties, in pertinent part, reads:

(a) Persons Who May Join and Be Joined. * * * * * * * * *
(2) Defendants. Persons . . . may be joined in one action as defendants if:
(A) any right to relief is asserted against them jointly, severally, or in the alternative with respect to or arising out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series ...

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