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Easley v. Tritt

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

September 26, 2019

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

          MEMORANDUM

          Sylvia H. Rambo United States District Judge

         Before the Court is pro se Plaintiff Warren Easley (“Plaintiff”)’s motion for leave to file a supplemental/amended complaint (Doc. No. 199) and declaration in support thereof (Doc. No. 200). In an Order dated August 29, 2019, the Court directed Defendants to respond to the motion within fourteen (14) days. (Doc. No. 202.) Defendants filed their response on September 12, 2019 (Doc. No. 207), and Plaintiff filed his reply on September 23, 2019 (Doc. No. 208). The motion for leave to file a supplemental/amended complaint is therefore ripe for disposition.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff is proceeding on an amended complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against several correctional officers and medical staff members at SCI Frackville, alleging that between March of 2015 and October of 2016, Defendants violated his First and Eighth Amendment rights through deliberate indifference, denial of medical care, failure to protect him, retaliation, denying him access to the courts, and using excessive force. (Doc. No. 11.) Plaintiff argues that his rights were violated when he was: (1) placed in a restraint chair; (2) placed in a “grind up” cell; (3) tasered; (4) placed in a “dry cell”; (5) given “food loaf”; (6) put on a medical diet; (7) put on grievance restriction; (8) choked by a blanket; (9) put on a seven (7)-day step-down program to earn privileges; (10) sprayed with mace; (11) extracted from his cell using force; (12) issued false reports; (13) assaulted with urine; and (14) called a “rat.” (Id.)

         In January of 2018, Plaintiff filed a motion for leave to file an amended complaint (Doc. No. 45) and proposed second amended complaint (Doc. No. 47), seeking to add seven (7) additional defendants, including an Officer Keen. In a Memorandum and Order entered on April 23, 2018, the Court denied Plaintiff’s motion for leave to file an amended complaint, concluding that the proposed second amended complaint failed to comply with Rules 8 and 20 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Doc. Nos. 54, 55.)

         By Memorandum and Order entered on August 7, 2018, the Court: (1) granted Defendant Shiptoski’s motion to dismiss/motion for summary judgment and dismissed him from this action; (2) granted Defendant Boyce’s motion to dismiss/motion for summary judgment and dismissed him from this action; (3) denied Defendants Albert, Boyce, Corby, Dowd, Gregoire, Kostinko, Miller, and Tomcavage’s motions to dismiss/motions for summary judgment for Plaintiff’s failure to exhaust administrative remedies; (4) granted Defendant Keller’s motion to dismiss/motion for summary judgment for Plaintiff’s failure to exhaust administrative remedies with respect to his claim that Keller called him a “rat”; (5) granted Defendant Marsh’s motion to dismiss/motion for summary judgment for Plaintiff’s failure to exhaust administrative remedies and dismissed Marsh from this action; (6) granted Defendant Miller’s motion to dismiss/motion for summary judgment on the basis that Plaintiff’s 2014 haircut exemption claim was barred by the statute of limitations; (7) granted Defendant Newberry’s motion to dismiss/motion for summary judgment and dismissed him from this action; (8) denied the motion to sever filed by several Department of Corrections (“DOC”) inmates; and (9) denied Plaintiff’s motion for default judgment and dismissed Defendant Dr. Pandya from this action without prejudice pursuant to Rule 4(m) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Doc. Nos. 81, 82.) The remaining DOC Defendants filed their answer on August 28, 2018. (Doc. No. 88.) Pursuant to the Court’s July 23, 2019 Memorandum and Order, the parties are due to complete discovery by December 1, 2019. (Doc. Nos. 190, 191.)

         II. DISCUSSION

         Plaintiff seeks leave to supplement or amend his complaint to add Officers Whitko, Keen, and Lukashewski as Defendants. (Doc. Nos. 199-1; 200.) He also appears to seek leave to assert claims under the Fourteenth Amendment, a claim of conspiracy, and claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1985. (Doc. No. 199-1 at 1.) Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that Whitko retaliated against him in April of 2015 by issuing a false misconduct stating that Plaintiff had assaulted Defendant Corby. (Id. at 10.) He also asserts that Lukashewski is the officer who authorized his placement in a restraint chair after returning from the hospital on June 19, 2015, and that Keen is the officer who authorized him to be put back in the restraint chair for fourteen (14) hours after having already been placed in it for eight (8) hours on June 21, 2015. (Id. at 14.)

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide that a party may amend its pleading once as a matter of course within twenty-one (21) days of service or within twenty-one (21) days after the service of a responsive pleading or a motion filed 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 the court’s leave. The court should freely give leave when justice so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). The policy “favoring liberal amendment of pleadings is not, however, unbounded.” Dole v. Arco Chemical Co., 921 F.2d 484, 487 (3d Cir. 1990). The Court may deny a motion to amend where there is “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, [or] futility of the amendment.” Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962).

         Amendment is futile when a claim sought to be added would be barred by the applicable statute of limitations. See Garvin v. City of Philadelphia, 354 F.3d 215, 219 (3d Cir. 2003). However, an amendment will not be barred and will instead relate back to the date of the original pleading when the requirements of Rule 15(c) are met. That rule provides that an amendment relates back when

(A) the law that provides the applicable statute of limitations allows relation back;
(B) the amendment asserts a claim or defense that arose out of the conduct, transaction, or occurrence set out-or attempted to be set out-in the original pleading;
(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 ...

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