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Moody v. Shoultes

United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Macon Division

June 20, 2017

JEREMY MOODY, Plaintiff,
v.
SAMANTHA SHOULTES, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          MARC T. TREADWELL, JUDGE

         United States Magistrate Judge Charles H. Weigle recommends denying Defendant Shoultes's motion to dismiss for failure to prosecute (Doc. 43) and dismissing the Plaintiff's claims against Defendants Whiters and Jordan. Doc. 53. Defendant Shoultes does not object to the Recommendation. The Plaintiff does not object but instead requests leave to amend and requests “3 hr law library time weekly location main prison.” Doc. 54. The Court has reviewed the Recommendation, and the Court accepts and adopts the findings, conclusions, and recommendations of the Magistrate Judge. The Recommendation is ADOPTED and made the order of this Court. Accordingly, Defendant Shoultes's motion to dismiss (Doc. 43) is DENIED, and the Plaintiff's claims against Defendants Whiters and Jordan are DISMISSED without prejudice. Further, the Plaintiff's motion for leave to amend (Doc. 54) is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part for undue delay and futility, so that the Plaintiff's motion for leave to amend his claims against Defendants Whiters and Jordan and his already-dismissed claims against Defendant Shoultes is denied, but his motion for leave to amend his complaint as to his surviving claims against Defendant Shoultes is granted. To the extent the Plaintiff moves for injunctive relief (Doc. 54), that motion is also DENIED.

         I. LEAVE TO AMEND

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(2) requires “the opposing party's written consent or the court's leave” in order to amend a complaint after 21 days following the defendant's responsive pleading. Leave to amend should be granted “freely . . . when justice so requires.” Id. “A district court need not, however, allow an amendment (1) where there has been undue delay, bad faith, dilatory motive, or repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed; (2) where allowing amendment would cause undue prejudice to the opposing party; or (3) where amendment would be futile.” Bryant v. Dupree, 252 F.3d 1161, 1163 (11th Cir. 2001) (citing Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962)).

         A. Claims Against Defendant Shoultes Not Already Dismissed

         The Court must construe the Plaintiff's filings liberally. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (“A document filed pro se is to be liberally construed.” (internal quotation marks and citation omitted)); see also Mays v. United States, 817 F.3d 728, 731 n.2 (11th Cir. 2016) (“Given Mays's motion to vacate and supplemental notice were filed pro se, we construe them liberally.” (citation omitted)).

         Liberally construed, some portions of the Plaintiff's proposed amended complaint arise from the same circumstances as his surviving claims against Defendant Shoultes: Defendant Shoultes's alleged throwing of feces at the Plaintiff and causing the Plaintiff a head injury when the Plaintiff reacted. See generally Doc. 1. The Court finds that these amendments should be allowed. First, unlike with respect to the other claims, the Plaintiff has not defied the Court's direct order to amend these claims. See Doc. 38 (ordering the Plaintiff to amend his claims against Defendants Whiters and Jordan); Doc. 47 (ordering the Plaintiff to amend his claims against Defendant Shoultes for deliberate indifference to medical needs and in Defendant Shoultes's official capacity). Accordingly, the Court finds that the Plaintiff has not unduly delayed with respect to this amendment. Cf. Ludy v. Nelson, 2015 WL 1347219, at *1 (M.D. Ga.) (finding undue delay when nothing suggested the new “allegations and theory of recovery were unknown to the Plaintiff at the time he filed his original complaint or his previous motions to amend” and the plaintiff had multiple opportunities to amend).

         Second, the Court finds that Defendant Shoultes will not be unduly prejudiced by amendment as to these claims. Defendant Shoultes argues that the Plaintiff's proposed amendments as a whole “would prejudice Defendant” because discovery has commenced, but Defendant Shoultes fails to argue that these amendments, which relate to circumstances already part of the original complaint, create undue prejudice. Doc. 56 at 5. Indeed, Defendant Shoultes characterizes these amendments as “essentially . . . the same . . . as the original Complaint, ” only objecting to them as “unnecessary.” Id. at 6. And third, the Court does not find that these amendments are futile, as the proposed amendments relate to the already-surviving claims against Defendant Shoultes. Construing the pro se Plaintiff's filings liberally, the Court finds that these amendments are permissible.

         B. Other Claims

         The proposed amended complaint's claims against Defendants Whiters and Jordan and the previously-dismissed claims against Defendant Shoultes, however, are denied due to the Plaintiff's undue delay and the futility of the amendments.

         1. Undue Delay

         The Magistrate Judge originally recommended dismissing without prejudice the Plaintiff's claims against Defendants Whiters and Jordan for failure to state a claim. Doc. 10 at 1. The Court agreed that the Plaintiff had failed to state a claim against Defendants Whiters and Jordan, but on August 19, 2016, the Court rejected the Recommendation and granted the Plaintiff's motion to amend his complaint (Doc. 32) because (1) the events underlying the claims against Defendants Whiters and Jordan occurred in September 2013, likely barring the Plaintiff from refiling his complaint due to the relevant two-year statute of limitations and thus making the dismissal likely with prejudice; and (2) the Plaintiff had not yet had a chance to amend his complaint. Doc. 38. The Court ordered the Plaintiff to amend his complaint to state a claim against Defendants Whiters and Jordan within 21 days. Id. at 2. The Plaintiff failed to do so until now, and he has failed to justify this ten-month delay. The amendments as to Defendants Whiters and Jordan are accordingly denied for undue delay. See Carruthers v. BSA Advert., Inc., 357 F.3d 1213, 1218 (11th Cir. 2004) (affirming the lower court's denial of a motion to amend for undue delay when the plaintiff moved to amend six months after the district court's deadline for amendments and offered no explanation for the delay or for why the interests of justice required leave to amend); see also Ludy, 2015 WL 1347219, at *1.

         Similarly, on February 15, 2017, the Court ordered the Plaintiff to redraft his complaint within 14 days if he believed he could allege facts sufficient to cure the deficiencies in his complaint as to his claims against Defendant Shoultes for deliberate indifference to medical needs and official capacity. Doc. 47 at 3. The Plaintiff failed to amend until now, and he has failed to justify his delay. Accordingly, the motion to amend those claims is also dismissed for undue delay.

         2. ...


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