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Morris v. Morales

United States District Court, Middle District of Georgia, Albany Division

February 19, 2014

ISAAC MORRIS, Plaintiff,
v.
WARDEN JOSE MORALES, et al., Defendants.

ORDER AND RECOMMENDATION

THOMAS Q. LANGSTAFF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

Plaintiff filed a Motion in Request for Permissive Joinder on December 9, 2013, wherein he requests permission to add two additional defendants pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 15, 19, and 20. (Doc. 31).

Rule 19 applies to joinder of a party where it is necessary for a just adjudication of the case. Based on the allegations in Plaintiff’s Motion, Rule 19 does not appear to apply in this case. Under Rule 20(a)(2), defendants may be joined in one action 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 of transactions or occurrences; and
(B) any question of law or fact common to all defendants will arise in the action.

Defendants Morales, Allen, Ajibade, and McCraw have filed a Response to Plaintiff’s Motion. (Doc. 42). These four Defendants maintain that Plaintiff’s Motion should be denied because Plaintiff cannot satisfy the requirements of Rule 20(a)(2).

Plaintiff also moves to add the two defendants under Rule 15(c), which discusses relation back of an amendment. (Doc. 31). In an abundance of caution, and giving this pro se inmate the benefit of liberal construction of his Motion, the Court will consider Plaintiff’s Motion under Rule 15(a), amendments before trial. Pursuant to Rule 15(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure,

(1) Amending as a Matter of Course A party may amend its pleading once as a matter of course within:

(A) 21 days after serving it, or
(B) if the pleading is one to which a responsive pleading is required, 21 days after service of a responsive pleading or 21 days after service of a motion under Rule 12(b), (e), or (f), whichever is earlier.

(2) Other Amendments

In all other cases, 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 Plaintiff filed his initial Complaint on February 11, 2013. (Doc. 1). Plaintiff filed a Recast Complaint on April 3, 2013. (Doc. 12). Waivers of service were mailed to Defendants on December 9, 2013. (Doc. 30). Defendants Allen, McGraw, Morales, and Ajibade filed Motions to Dismiss on February 7, 2014, and Defendants Taylor, Aiken, and Swagler have not filed a response to the Recast Complaint. (See Docs. 38, 40).

Plaintiff’s Motion was filed the same day the Recast Complaint and waivers of service were mailed to Defendants. As such, Plaintiff's Motion was timely filed under Rule 15(a)(1)(A). The Court lacks the discretion to reject an amended complaint when the Plaintiff has the right to file an amended complaint as a matter of course. Williams v. Board of Regents of University System of Georgia, 477 F.3d 1282, 1292 n. 6 (11th Cir. 2007). Accordingly, Plaintiff's Motion in Request for Permissive Joinder (construed as a motion to amend his recast complaint) (Doc. 31) is GRANTED.

Although Plaintiff's Motion is granted, the new claims remain subject to review and possible dismissal under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). A federal court is required to dismiss a prisoner complaint that is: “(1) frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). To state a claim for relief, a complaint must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). A complaint fails to state a claim when it does not include enough facts to give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007); Erickson v. Pardus, et al., 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (internal citations omitted). The pleading must be more than an “unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me ...


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