United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
JENNIFER L. FARGIONE and JUDY L. PAVELKO, In their own right and as Co-Administrators for the Estate of CAROL L. WILLIAMS, Deceased, Plaintiffs,
EDWARD SWEENEY, et al, Defendants.
S. Perkin, M.J.
the Court is the Plaintiffs' Motion for Leave to File an
Amended Complaint which was filed on January 19, 2018.
Defendant PrimeCare Medical, Inc. filed a brief in opposition
to the motion on January 29, 2018, and on February 5, 2018,
Plaintiffs filed a motion for leave to file a Reply Brief.
Plaintiffs' Reply Brief was filed on February 9, 2018
with leave of Court. Having reviewed and considered the
contentions of the parties, the Court is prepared to rule on
§ 1983 action arises out of the death of Carol L.
Williams ("Williams") during her incarceration at
the Lehigh County Prison ("LCP"). Plaintiffs,
Jennifer Fargione and Judy Pavelo ("Plaintiffs"),
commenced this action by filing a Complaint (Doc. 1) on
November 14, 2016.Generally, Plaintiffs allege that the
Defendants were deliberately indifferent to the alleged
serious medical needs of Williams, leading to her death on
November 12, 2014. The Complaint named several John/Jane Doe
Defendants and there are allegations against said fictitious
Defendants throughout the Complaint.
December 20, 2017, the parties engaged in a Rule 16
Conference. During the conference, it was stipulated that
Plaintiffs had until January 20, 2018, to file any motion
seeking to amend the Complaint to substitute the names of any
John/Jane Doe Defendants. It was not, however, stipulated by
Defendants that such motion would be unopposed or proper. On
January 19, 2018, Plaintiffs filed the instant Motion seeking
to substitute previously unnamed individuals for the
John/Jane Doe Defendants. (Doc. 35.) Specifically, Plaintiffs
seek to substitute: (1) Jen Mroz, PA-C, Clinical Director for
John/Jane Doe Medical Director; (2) Nicole Heffner, Health
Services Administrator for John/Jane Health Services
Administrator; (3) Frances Brigidi, RN, for John/Jane Doe
Medical Staff #1; and (4) Lt. Dreisbach for the Defendant
identified as John/Jane Doe Supervisor #1. Defendant,
PrimeCare Medical, Inc. ("PrimeCare"), filed a
Brief in Opposition, opposing the substitution of Mroz,
Heffner and Brigidi on the basis that Plaintiffs' Motion
STANDARD OF REVIEW.
15(a)(2) provides that "[t]he court should freely give
leave [for a party to amend its pleading] when justice so
requires." Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). The trial court has
discretion to determine whether a request for leave to file
an amended pleading should be granted or denied. See
Zenith Radio Corp. v. Hazeltine Research, Inc., 401 U.S.
321, 330, 91 S.Ct. 795, 28 L.Ed.2d 77 (1971); see also
Cureton v. Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Ass'n, 252
F.3d 267, 272 (3d Cir. 2001). As a general matter, the trial
court should grant leave to amend "unless equitable
considerations render it otherwise unjust." Arthur
v. Maersk, Inc., 434 F.3d 196, 204 (3d Cir. 2006)
(citing Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182, 83 S.Ct.
227, 9 L.Ed.2d 222 (1962)). Denial of a motion to amend must
be grounded in substantial or undue prejudice, bad faith or
dilatory motives, truly undue or unexplained delay, repeated
failure to cure deficiency by amendments previously allowed
or futility of amendment. Heyl & Patterson Int'l,
Inc. v. F.D. Rich Housing of V.I, Inc., 663 F.2d 419,
425 (3d Cir. 1981) (citing Foman, 371 U.S. at 182).
above-listed considerations, "prejudice to the
non-moving party is the touchstone for denial of an
amendment." Arthur, 434 F.3d at 204 (quoting
Cornell & Co. v. Occupational Safety & Health
Review Comm'n, 573 F.2d 820, 823 (3d Cir. 1978)).
The prejudice inquiry "focus[es] on the hardship to the
[non-moving party] if the amendment were permitted."
Cureton, 252 F.3d at 273 (citing Adams v. Gould,
Inc., 739 F.2d 858, 868 (3d Cir. 1984)). In determining
whether prejudice exists, a court can consider whether the
proposed amendment "would result in additional
discovery, cost, and preparation to defend against new facts
or theories." Cureton, 252 F.3d at 273.
[c]ourts have found undue prejudice to the non-moving party
and denied leave to amend where the amendment would have
asserted new claims, where new discovery would have been
necessary, where the motion for leave was filed months after
the factual basis of the amendment was discovered by the
moving party, and where the motion for leave was brought
after summary judgment motions were filed.
Cumming v. City of Philadelphia, No. 03-0034, 2004
U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9030, *11 (E.D. Pa. Apr. 26, 2004). An
amendment to a pleading relates back to the date of the
original pleading when:
(B) the amendment asserts a claim or defense that arose out
of the conduct, transaction, or occurrence set out... in the
original pleading; or
(C) the amendment changes the party or the naming of the
party against whom a claim is asserted, if Rule 15(c)(1)(B)
is satisfied and if, within the period provided by Rule 4(m)
for serving the summons and complaint, the party to be
brought in by amendment:
(i) received such notice of the action that it will not be
prejudiced in defending on the merits; and (ii) knew or
should have known that the action would have been brought
against it, but for a mistake concerning the proper
F.R.C.P. 15(c)(1). The time period provided by Rule 4(m) for
serving the summons and complaint applicable to the instant
matter is 90 days. See F.R.C.P. 4(m). The notice
element required by subsection (C) may be imputed.
"[N]otice may be deemed to have occurred when a party
who has some reason to expect his potential involvement as a
defendant learns of the commencement of litigation though
some informal means." Singletary v. Pa. Dept. of
Corrections, 266 F.3d 186, 195 (3rd Cir. 2001). The two
principal tests for ...