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Jackson v. City of Philadelphia

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

July 16, 2018

DANTE JACKSON, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM

          LYNNE A. SITARSKI UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Pending before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Amend the Caption and Complaint (ECF No. 46) and Defendants' Response in Opposition thereto (ECF No. 47).[1] For the following reasons, Plaintiff's Motion will be DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The procedural posture of this case is well-known to the parties, so the Court provides only a brief recitation of the background pertinent to the instant motion.

         On July 18, 2016, Dante Jackson (“Plaintiff”) initiated the instant action against the City of Philadelphia, Warden Karen Bryant, Officer Tanisha Watkins, and Corizon, Inc. with the filing a pro se Complaint. (Compl., ECF No. 1-1). He raised claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging, inter alia, that while he was incarcerated at the Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center (“PICC”), the City's failure to train and supervise “its wardens” caused Plaintiff to be “left in a foreseeable dangerous situation, ” and that after he suffered injuries at the hands of another inmate, Corizon, Inc.'s “negligent and careless” behavior caused him to sustain “permanent complication of the mobility with left hand.” (Compl. ¶¶ 16-17, ECF No. 1-1).

         On October 28, 2016, Plaintiff filed a pro se motion to amend his complaint. (Mot. to Am. Compl., ECF No. 13). He sought, inter alia, to add Sergeant William Hubert, Officer Hakeem Wilson, Officer Mooney, Officer Rosa, Officer Frazier, Officer D. Johnson, and Officer O'Neil as defendants, and to assert additional facts. (Id.). The District Court granted this request, and ordered that Plaintiff's proposed amended complaint be docketed as a Second Amended Complaint.[2] (Order, ECF No. 15). On December 8, 2016, the Second Amended Complaint was docketed, and summonses were issued against each defendant named therein. (Second Am. Compl., ECF No. 16). The summons against Officer O'Neil was returned unexecuted on May 11, 2017, because “the Law Dep[artment] has no record of employee - cannot accept.”[3] (ECF No. 23).

         On May 10, 2017, Defendants City of Philadelphia, Warden Byrant, and Officers Frazier, Wilson, and Watkins filed a Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim. (ECF No. 20). On June 9, 2017, Corizon, Inc. filed a Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim. (Mot. of Def. Corizon Inc. to Dismiss Pl.'s Second Am. Compl., ECF No. 26).

         On June 26, 2017, Plaintiff filed a counseled Third Amended Complaint, without leave of Court. (Third Am. Compl., ECF No. 27; see Order 1, ECF No. 35). The following defendants were named therein: Corizon Health Inc.; Lieutenant Murray; Sergeant William Hober, who was “previously identified as ‘Defendant Sergeant William Hubert'”; Officer Tanisha Watkins; Officer Hakeem Wilson; Officer Stephen Frazier; Officer Thomas O'Neal; Officer D. Johnson; Officer Mooney; Officer Eddie Rosa; Defendant(s) John/Jane Joes 1-10. (Third Am. Compl. ¶¶ 4-14, ECF No. 27). On July 10, 2017, Defendants' various Motions to Dismiss Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint and Third Amended Complaint - docketed at ECF Nos. 20, 26, and 27 - were dismissed as moot. (Order, ECF No. 29). On August 11, 2017, the District Court granted Petitioner leave to file the Third Amended Complaint, and ordered the Clerk to amend the caption to reflect the changes to the named defendants. (Order, ECF No. 35). Defendants have filed various motions to dismiss Plaintiff's Third Amended Complaint, which remain pending.[4] (See Defs.' Mem. of Law 5, ECF No. 47).

         On January 8, 2018, Plaintiff filed the instant Motion for Leave to Amend the Caption and Complaint (ECF No. 46), seeking to name Officer Michael O'Neill Jr. as a defendant in place of the incorrectly-named Officer Thomas O'Neal, and to file a Fourth Amended Complaint. Plaintiff also asks for an additional thirty (30) days to serve Defendant O'Neill. Defendants Murray, Johnson, Rosa, Wilson, Mooney, Frazier, Watkins, O'Neal, and Hober (hereinafter “Defendant Officers” or “named Defendants”) filed a Response, opposing Plaintiff's Motion. (Defs.' Resp. in Opp. to Pl.'s Mot. to Am. Caption and Compl., ECF No. 47 [hereinafter “Resp. in Opp.”]).

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(2) states that, after an answer has been filed, “a party may amend its pleading only with . . . the court's leave.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a). “The court should freely give leave when justice so requires, ” and the Third Circuit has held that “motions to amend pleadings should be liberally granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2); Long v. Wilson, 393 F.3d 390, 400 (3d Cir. 2004). However, leave to amend under Rule 15 may be denied in cases of: (1) undue delay; (2) bad faith or dilatory motive; (3) undue prejudice; or (4) futility of amendment. Cureton v. Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Ass'n, 252 F.3d 267, 273 (3d Cir. 2001) (citing Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962)). Given the liberal standard of Rule 15(a), the party opposing amendment bears the burden of showing undue delay, bad faith, prejudice, or futility. E.E.O.C. v. Hussey Copper Ltd., No. 08-809, 2009 WL 918298, at *1 (W.D. Pa. Apr. 2, 2009); Chancellor v. Pottsgrove Sch. Dist., 501 F.Supp.2d 695, 700 (E.D. Pa. 2007). The decision to grant or deny a motion for leave to amend is within the sound discretion of the district court. Cureton, 252 F.3d at 272.

         III. ANALYSIS

         Plaintiff seeks leave to amend the Complaint “to amend the caption and complaint to replace the misnamed Officer O'Neal with the correct Officer O'Neill.” (Pl.'s Mem. of Law 8, ECF No. 46). The named Defendants oppose Plaintiff's Motion, arguing, inter alia, that amendment would be futile because “the statute of limitations has run and Plaintiff is unable to demonstrate the requirements of relation back in Fed.R.Civ.P. 15.” (Defs.' Mem. of Law 3-4, ECF No. 47).[5] For the reasons explained in more detail below, the Court agrees with Defendant, and denies Plaintiff's Motion.

         Claims brought under § 1983 are subject to the state's statute of limitations for personal injury actions, which in Pennsylvania, is two years. Garvin v. City of Philadelphia, 354 F.3d 215, 220 (3d Cir. 2003); Harry v. City of Philadelphia, No. 03-661, 2004 WL 1387319, at *10 (E.D. Pa. June 18, 2004) (citing Sameric Corp. of Delaware, Inc. v. City of Philadelphia, 142 F.3d 582, 599-600 (3d Cir. 1998); 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 5524). “[T]he limitations period begins to run from the time when the plaintiff knows or has reason to know of the injury which is ...


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