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Baker v. Gunderson

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Brunswick Division

March 24, 2017

MICHAEL SHELLY BAKER, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
DR. JEFFREY GUNDERSON; TAMMY BROOKS; TAIWANA HALL; and DONNICE JURAN, Defendants.

          ORDER AND MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          R. STAN BAKER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Presently before the Court are Plaintiff's Motion to Amend Complaint and Motion to Amend or Add Parties. (Docs. 32, 33.) Defendants Brooks, Hall, and Juran filed a Response. (Doc. 35.) For the reasons which follow, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's Motion to Amend Complaint, (doc. 32), and DENIES Plaintiff's Motion to Amend or Add Parties, (doc. 33). The Court DIRECTS the Clerk of Court to file Plaintiff's “Petition of Complaint and Claim”, (doc. 32-1), as Plaintiff's “First Supplemental Complaint” upon the docket of this case.[1] In addition, I RECOMMEND the Court DISMISS as moot the Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendants Brooks, Hall, and Juran (doc. 26).

         BACKGROUND

         In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleged Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs and safety while he was a pretrial detainee at the Glynn County Detention Center in Brunswick, Georgia, in February and March 2016. Specifically, Plaintiff asserted he fell in his own urine while he was in the medical unit because his left elbow and hip socket were broken, and Defendants refused to help Plaintiff for more than an hour, despite his cries for help. (Doc. 1, pp. 5-6.) Defendant Gunderson eventually examined Plaintiff's injuries, and Plaintiff was transferred to Southeast Georgia Health System and then to Memorial Hospital in Savannah, Georgia, due to the severity of his injuries. (Id. at p. 6.)

         Approximately two and a half weeks after Plaintiff's return to the Glynn County Detention Center, Plaintiff slipped while trying to get his drink off of a table and hurt his hip, back, neck, and left elbow. Nurse Johnson examined Plaintiff, and he was once again transported to Southeast Georgia Health System. Medical personnel at the hospital examined Plaintiff and discharged him with a left arm sling and prescription pain medication. (Id. at p. 5.)

         Two days later, Plaintiff attended his preliminary hearing. Defendant Hall, Ms. Franks, Major Heath, and Sergeant Neaves claimed that Defendant Gunderson told them Plaintiff did not need an arm sling. Defendant Hall, Ms. Franks, Major Heath, and Sergeant Neaves then used physical force to remove the sling from Plaintiff's arm, causing Plaintiff more physical pain. (Id.) On August 23, 2016, the Court ordered service of Plaintiff's Complaint upon Defendants. (Doc. 16.)

         Defendant Gunderson filed an Answer and Counterclaim to Plaintiff's Complaint. (Doc. 19.) The Court issued a Scheduling Notice on September 30, 2016, and advised the parties that amended pleadings were due no later than November 28, 2016. (Doc. 21.) Defendants Brooks, Hall, and Juran filed a Motion to Dismiss and their Answer on November 8, 2016. (Docs. 26, 27.) Plaintiff then filed his Motions to Amend on November 18 and 28, 2016. (Docs. 32, 33.)

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(1), a party may amend his complaint once as a matter of right within twenty-one (21) days after service of a responsive pleading or a motion under Rule 12(b), (e), or (f).[2] Even when a party may not amend as a matter of right, he may amend with the opposing party's written consent or the court's leave. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). “The court should freely give leave when justice so requires.” Id. While leave to amend is generally freely given, it is by no means guaranteed. “The function of Rule 15(a), which provides generally for the amendment of pleadings, is to enable a party to assert matters that were overlooked or were unknown at the time he interposed the original complaint or answer.” 6 Wright, Miller & Kane, Federal Practice and Procedure: Civil 2d § 1473. However, the decision on whether to grant a motion to amend is within the sound discretion of the trial court. Addington v. Farmer's Elevator Mut., Ins. Co., 650 F.2d 663, 666 (5th Cir. 1981). “In making this determination, a court should consider whether there has been undue delay in filing, bad faith or dilatory motives, prejudice to the opposing parties, and the futility of the amendment.” Cooks v. United States, No. CV 114-195, 2015 WL 7069665, at *1 (S.D. Ga. Nov. 13, 2015) (quoting Saewitz v. Lexington Ins. Co., 133 F. App'x 695, 699 (11th Cir. 2005)).

         DISCUSSION

         I. Plaintiff's Motion to Amend (Doc. 32)

         Plaintiff contends he is seeking $250, 000.00 in monetary damages in this case as recovery for his medical care costs, court fees, and expenses. (Doc. 32.) Defendants Brooks, Hall, and Juran do not oppose Plaintiff's Motion to Amend, as Plaintiff is proceeding pro se and perhaps did not realize he needed to specify that he is seeking monetary damages in his original Complaint. (Doc. 35, p. 2.) However, these Defendants maintain Plaintiff's amendment does not affect their Motion to Dismiss because they moved to dismiss Plaintiff's equitable relief claims against them.

         Plaintiff filed his Motion to Amend within twenty-one (21) days of the filing of Defendants' responsive pleadings, and he can amend as a matter of right. Thus, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's Motion to Amend, and Plaintiff now seeks monetary damages against Defendants. Defendants Brooks, Hall, and Juran have no opposition to this amendment, and Defendant Gunderson failed to object to Plaintiff's desired amendment. Additionally, the Court finds this amendment will avoid piecemeal litigation by allowing Plaintiff to seek all forms of relief against Defendants in one cause of action.[3] However, Plaintiff's desired amendment does have an effect on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, to which the Court now turns.

         II. Motion to Dismiss Filed by Defendants Brooks, Hall, ...


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