United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Macon Division
ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
E. SELF, III, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
the Court is the Magistrate Judge's Order and Report and
Recommendation [Doc. 61] on Defendants Warden Gregory
McLaughlin, Doctor Robinson, and Doctor Fye's Motion for
Summary Judgment [Doc. 45]. The Magistrate Judge recommended
that the Court grant Defendants' motion because Plaintiff
did not provide evidence that created a genuine issue of
material fact. See generally [Doc. 45]. Plaintiff
filed an objection to the Magistrate Judge's
recommendation that the Court dismiss his claim against
Defendant McLaughlin but conceded that the Magistrate Judge
was correct with respect to Plaintiff's claims against
Defendants Fye and Robinson. [Doc. 62, at p. 5]. Plaintiff
also took issue with the Magistrate Judge's denial of his
Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint [Doc. 52].
[Id. at pp. 2-4]. However, because the Magistrate
Judge had the independent authority to deny Plaintiff's
Motion to Amend, the Court construes this part of
Plaintiff's objection as a second Motion for Leave to
File an Amended Complaint. For reasons discussed below, the
Court DENIES this motion.
thoroughly reviewed the Magistrate Judge's recommendation
and Plaintiff's objection, the Court
ADOPTS the Report and Recommendation [Doc.
61] and MAKES IT THE ORDER OF THE COURT.
Accordingly, the Court GRANTS
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. 45].
Motion for Leave to File an Amended
Court denies Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File an
Amended Complaint. Plaintiff asks the Court to allow him to
amend his Complaint to assert claims against Sergeant Mango
and two engineers-Winder and Middleton-who he claims were
responsible for the design of his cell. See [Doc.
62, at pp. 2 & 5]. Because of the timing of this motion,
Plaintiff may only amend his Complaint with the Court's
leave. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a). The Court must
“freely give leave when justice so requires” but
the decision to grant leave to amend is ultimately within the
Court's discretion. Id.; Foman v.
Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962) (“[T]he grant or
denial of an opportunity to amend is within the discretion of
the District Court.”). But the Court must not exercise
its discretion arbitrarily; therefore, if the Court denies a
motion to amend, it must give a valid reason for doing so.
Foman, 371 U.S. at 182 (“[O]utright refusal to
grant the leave without any justifying reason appearing for
the denial is not an exercise of discretion; it is merely
abuse of that discretion.”). Among the valid reasons
for denying a motion to amend are “undue delay, . . .
repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments
previously allowed, . . . [and] futility of amendment.”
Court finds that Plaintiff's undue delay in asserting his
claim against Sergeant Mango warrant denying Plaintiff's
motion with regard to this claim. Although Plaintiff does not
allege Sergeant Mango's role in Plaintiff's injury,
it is clear that Plaintiff knew of Sergeant Mango's role
in the incident from the time Plaintiff filed his Complaint.
See [Doc. 62, at p. 3]. Consequently, the Court
finds that there was undue delay in asserting this claim.
Plaintiff filed his Complaint in July of 2016 [Doc. 1],
supplemented it four months later [Doc. 6], and amended it in
April 2018 [Doc. 34] (granting Motion to Amend [Doc. 27]
filed seven months earlier). Plaintiff had ample opportunity
to assert a claim against Sergeant Mango, but chose to wait
until after the close of discovery and Defendants' filing
of a motion for summary judgment. In light of this case
history and in the absence of compelling justification for
such a delay, the Court denies Plaintiff's Motion for
Leave to Amend his Complaint to add a claim against Sergeant
Court also finds that allowing Plaintiff to assert a claim
against the two engineers allegedly responsible for designing
his cell would be futile. A motion to amend is futile when
the new claims could not survive a motion to dismiss.
Mizzaro v. Home Depot, Inc., 544 F.3d 1230, 1255
(11th Cir. 2008) (“Because justice does not require
district courts to waste their time on hopeless cases, leave
may be denied if a proposed amendment . . . fails to state a
claim.”). Here, Plaintiff made no supporting
allegations of wrongdoing on the part of the engineers nor
did he identify the type of claims he intended to assert
against them. The complete absence of allegations supporting
a claim of any type means Plaintiff's amended complaint
with claims added against the engineers simply would not
survive a motion to dismiss even with the benefit of the
liberal construction owed to pro se pleadings.
Plaintiff's Objections to the Magistrate Judge's
Report and Recommendation
Court now turns to Plaintiff's objections to the
Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation and finds
that they are without merit. The Magistrate Judge recommended
that the Court dismiss Plaintiff's claim against
Defendant McLaughlin because “Plaintiff [did] not
directly contradict any of Defendants' factual
showings.” [Doc. 61, at p. 6]. With regard to
Plaintiff's claim against Defendant McLaughlin, the
Magistrate Judge noted that “the undisputed facts show
that Defendant McLaughlin was not aware of, nor disregarded,
any excessive risk to Plaintiff's health and
safety.” [Id.]. Rather than meeting the
Magistrate Judge's recommendation head on, Plaintiff
spends most of his objection dwelling on the fact of his
injury and Defendants' alleged conduct after his
injury occurred. See, e.g., [Doc. 62, at p. 6]. The
Court is, of course, sympathetic to Plaintiff and the serious
injury he sustained, but the mere existence of an injury does
not automatically entitle one to relief. As the Magistrate
Judge made clear, Plaintiff's claim against Defendant
McLaughlin can survive summary judgment only if he provides
some evidence that Defendant McLaughlin “disregard[ed]
an excessive risk” to Plaintiff's health and
safety. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 837 (1994).
Defendant McLaughlin specifically denied knowing of a risk
posed by the locker and Plaintiff's supporting affidavit
only stated that other officers at the facility knew of
inmates hitting their heads on the locker. Compare
[Doc. 45-8, at p. 4] with [Doc. 48-3, at p. 3]. In
the absence of a specific rebuttal from Plaintiff as to
Defendant McLaughlin's lack of knowledge, the Magistrate
Judge appropriately recommended that the Court grant
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment.
reasons stated, the Court DENIES
Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Amend his Complaint [Doc.
62] and ADOPTS the Magistrate Judge's
Order and Report and Recommendation [Doc. 61]. Consequently,
the Court GRANTS Defendants' Motion for
Summary Judgment [Doc. 45]. The Court
DIRECTS the Clerk to close the case.