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Carson v. The National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak)

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

June 4, 2018

CHARLES W. CARSON and TOMOKO CARSON, Plaintiffs,
v.
THE NATIONAL RAILROAD PASSENGER CORPORATION (AMTRAK); S. CAMPBELL, Amtrak Police Officer; ADRIAN GIBB DAVIS, Amtrak Police Officer; JOHN DOE, Amtrak Police Officer, Defendants.

          OPINION PLAINTIFFS' REVISED MOTION TO AMEND COMPLAINT, ECF NO. 29 - GRANTED IN PART PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO RECONSIDER, ECF NO. 32 - DENIED

          JOSEPH F. LEESON, JR., United States District Judge

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiffs Charles W. Carson and Tomoko Carson have filed a Revised Motion to Amend their Complaint[1] and a Motion to Reconsider their Request for an Evidentiary Hearing. For the reasons set forth below, the Revised Motion to Amend is granted in part and the Motion to Reconsider is denied.

         II. Background

         A. The Initial Complaint

         The Carsons filed their Complaint in this matter in April 2017. ECF No. 1. The Complaint alleges that on the evening of March 5, 2017, the Carsons purchased tickets at 30thStreet Station in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to travel on Amtrak train number 671 to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Compl. ¶ 10. Before descending to the train platform, Mr. Carson approached the Amtrak information desk and asked the station manager, Defendant Adrienne Gibbs-Davis, whether it was possible to upgrade the Carsons' tickets to business class. Compl. ¶ 12. Gibbs-Davis replied that the ticket office was closed but that Mr. Carson could upgrade by using the kiosk nearby. Compl. ¶ 13. Mr. Carson asked Gibbs-Davis for further instructions, but Gibbs-Davis responded rudely and asked for the Carsons' tickets. Compl. ¶¶ 14-17. Mr. Carson provided the tickets and asked for Gibbs-Davis's name. Compl. ¶¶ 18-19. Gibbs-Davis raised her voice and provided her first name. Compl. ¶¶ 20-22. Mr. Carson began to write down her name and stated that he may write a letter to Amtrak concerning the service he received. Compl. ¶¶ 22-23. Gibbs-Davis then “angrily pronounced” her full name and stated that she would have the Amtrak police take a picture of Mr. Carson once he began to board. Compl. ¶ 24.

         Shortly after the Carsons boarded the train, Defendant Amtrak Officer Sean Campbell approached them and told them that they needed to leave the train and that they were not going to ride Amtrak that night. Compl. ¶¶ 35-41.The Carsons exited the train onto the platform, where they encountered Officer Campbell along with “four or five uniformed police officers as well as a few Amtrak personnel standing nearby.” Compl. ¶¶ 42-46. Mr. Carson asked Officer Campbell to provide him with his business card, and Officer Campbell replied that he would provide his card in exchange for the Carsons' tickets. Compl. ¶¶ 48-50. Mr. Carson asked Officer Campbell if he would guarantee a refund for their tickets, but Officer Campbell declined. Compl. ¶ 51. The Carsons were then directed to proceed up the stairway to the passenger lobby. Compl. ¶ 53. After the Carsons reached the lobby, they began to walk toward the station exit when they encountered another Amtrak officer-identified in the Complaint as Officer John Doe-who told them that there was now a no-trespass order against them and ordered them not to return to the station. Compl. ¶ 58. The Carsons left the station and called Mr. Carson's son, who drove from Lancaster to pick them up; they arrived home in Lancaster around 2:30 a.m., approximately four hours later than their scheduled train arrival. Compl. ¶¶ 60-61. On the basis of these allegations, the Carsons assert claims under § 1983 for deprivation of their constitutional rights, as well as claims under state law.

         B. The Revised Proposed Amended Complaint

         In their Revised Motion to Amend, the Carsons state that they seek to amend their Complaint in light of “additional facts” that they learned during discovery-in particular, surveillance footage of the train station from the date of the incident. See Pls.' Rev. Mot. Am. 1-2, ECF No. 29. Further, they seek to add allegations and claims based on a series of incidents that occurred in March 2018, a year after the events alleged in the initial Complaint. See id.

         A review of the Revised Proposed Amended Complaint shows that the Carsons seek to add two Defendants: Amtrak conductor Danielle Rhodes, who was allegedly involved in the Carsons' removal from the train on March 5, 2017, and Amtrak Police Officer Matthew Rockey, who the Carsons allege is the officer identified as “John Doe” in the initial Complaint. See Rev. Proposed Am. Compl., ECF No. 29-1. Further, the Carsons' Revised Proposed Amended Complaint seeks to add over fifty paragraphs of factual allegations and ten new causes of action, as detailed below.

         In paragraphs 29 to 44 of the Revised Proposed Amended Complaint, the Carsons seek to add allegations concerning the conduct of Rhodes, the train conductor, and Gibbs-Davis, the station manager. These paragraphs allege that the surveillance video shows that after Gibbs-Davis finished speaking with Mr. Carson at the information desk, she descended to the train platform to speak with Rhodes. Rev. Proposed Am. Compl. ¶ 30. Rhodes and Davis then ascended to the concourse, where they met with Officer Campbell, who then proceeded to descend to the platform and remove the Carsons from the train, as alleged in the initial Complaint. Id. ¶¶ 33-35. A number of the paragraphs in this section also include allegations about a written statement Gibbs-Davis made on May 8, 2017, concerning the March 5 incident, which was produced in discovery and which the Carsons allege includes “false and perjured testimony.” See, e.g., id. ¶¶ 37-38.[2]

         In paragraphs 60 to 65 of the Revised Proposed Amended Complaint, the Carsons seek to add allegations concerning Amtrak Police Officer Steven Sibbert, who allegedly made a written statement in May 2017 concerning his interactions with the Carsons on the day of the incident.[3]The Carsons allege that, contrary to Officer Sibbert's statement, they never encountered him on the day of the incident, and that his statement is defamatory. The Carsons, however, do not seek to add Officer Sibbert as a Defendant, and they allege that he “is not involved in these proceedings.” Id. ¶ 60.

         In paragraph 77 of the Revised Proposed Amended Complaint, the Carsons seek to add allegations concerning two alleged batteries committed by Officer Campbell against Mr. Carson after the Carsons were removed from the train; these batteries are allegedly shown in the surveillance footage produced in discovery. First, the Carsons allege that the surveillance video shows that as they ascended the escalator back to the passenger lobby, Officer Campbell stood behind Mr. Carson on the escalator and “did a pat down” on him, which allegedly constituted a battery. Id. ¶ 77. The second alleged battery occurred when Mr. Carson “turn[ed] to the right to depart” the station; the Carsons allege that “[t]he videography clearly shows” that Officer Campbell's “second . . . unwanted offense contact” with Mr. Carson occurred at this time. Id. The Revised Proposed Amended Complaint does not further describe the nature of this second alleged battery.

         In paragraph 83 of the Revised Proposed Amended Complaint, the Carsons seek to add allegations that the officer identified as John Doe in the initial Complaint-i.e., the officer who allegedly told the Carsons that they were forbidden to return to the station-is Amtrak Police Officer Matthew Rockey. In paragraphs 84 to 86, they allege that Officer Rockey falsely claimed in a May 9, 2017 statement that he did not interact with the Carsons.

         In paragraphs 87 to 91 of the Revised Proposed Amended Complaint, the Carsons seek to add allegations that Defendants are “conspiring to obstruct justice” by failing to produce all of the surveillance videos from March 5, 2017.

         In paragraphs 103 to 127 of the Revised Proposed Amended Complaint, the Carsons seek to add allegations concerning an incident that occurred on March 4, 2018-nearly a year after the events at the center of this case-involving a friend of theirs named Loy Manes, II. This alleged incident is described in detail in a document titled “Loy Manes Statement of Facts, ” which is signed by Manes and attached as Exhibit A to the initial Proposed Amended Complaint. See Manes Statement, ECF No. 26-1.[4] According to the statement, on March 4, 2018, Mr. Carson dropped Manes off at the 30th Street Station in Philadelphia. There, Manes bought a ticket for Amtrak train number 671 to Lancaster and, before boarding, took pictures of the main concourse and of the train conductor. After Manes boarded the train and it departed for Lancaster, he called Mr. Carson on his cell phone to describe what he had seen at the station. When Manes ended his conversation with Mr. Carson, the woman sitting next to Manes got up and spoke with the train conductor. When the train arrived in Lancaster, the train conductor pointed out Manes to several police officers, who then approached Manes, asked him for his name and identification, and questioned him about his behavior on the train. A few minutes later, the officers learned that there was an outstanding warrant for Manes's arrest, and they arrested him. The following day, Manes was questioned by two FBI officers about his conduct on the train. He told them he was taking pictures of the train station to gather evidence for Mr. Carson's lawsuit. On March 14, an Amtrak officer named DeGrazia further questioned Manes about his conduct on the train.

         In their Revised Proposed Amended Complaint, the Carsons allege that Danielle Rhodes-the conductor on their March 5, 2017 train-was also the conductor on the train ridden by Manes and that she made false statements about Manes that resulted in him being unlawfully arrested. Rev. Proposed Am. Compl. ¶ 106. They allege that on March 7, 2018, three days after Manes was arrested, two Lancaster City detectives visited the Carsons' home, falsely stated that they were FBI agents, and searched the home, in violation of the Carsons' ...


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