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Howard v. Rainwater

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

June 30, 2015

CAMIKA HOWARD, as personal representative of the ESTATE OF JOICE HOWARD, Plaintiff,
v.
DEPUTY NICK RAINWATER, et. al., Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION TO AMEND HER COMPLAINT, (DKT. 36) AND EXTENDING DISCOVERY (DKT. 42)

TERRENCE G. BERG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

Before the Court is Plaintiff Camika Howard’s motion, as personal representative of the estate of Joice Howard, to amend her complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15, (Dkt. 36), filed on March 26, 2015. The Court took the motion under advisement on April 21, 2015, and it has now been fully briefed.[1] In addition, on June 25, 2015, Plaintiff filed a motion to extend discovery. (Dkt. 42). For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff’s motion to amend her complaint, (Dkt. 36), and her motion to extend discovery, (Dkt. 42), will be GRANTED.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On June 19, 2012, Plaintiff decedent Ms. Joice Howard went to Genesys Regional Medical Center in Grand Blanc, Michigan to visit a sick relative along with her fiancé John Clark and other family members. (Dkt. 1, p. 3). Upon leaving the hospital and walking to their car, the couple noticed that Mr. Clark had locked his keys inside his vehicle. (Id.) Clark contacted a hospital security guard for assistance who then called the Grand Blanc Township Police Department. (Id. at p. 4). In response to this call for assistance, Defendant Joshua Belanger, a police officer for the Grand Blanc Township Police, arrived at the scene. (Id.)

Upon arriving and speaking with Mr. Clark, Officer Belanger conducted a check on Mr. Clark on the Michigan Law Enforcement Information Network (“LEIN”) to ensure that Mr. Clark rightfully owned the vehicle. (Dkt. 39). LEIN confirmed that Mr. Clark was the owner and also revealed that he had an outstanding warrant. (Id.) The police report notes that as Officer Belanger was waiting for the results from LEIN, Mr. Clark began running away from the scene. (Id.) Officer Belanger gave chase, caught up with Mr. Clark, and placed him under arrest. (Id.)

Shortly thereafter, at around 8:00 p.m., Ms. Howard provided Officer Belanger with her identification. (Id.) Officer Belanger searched Ms. Howard’s name on LEIN and placed her under arrest after discovering that she also had an outstanding warrant. (Id.) The report then notes that Sergeant Aaron Quinn of the Grand Blanc Township Police arrived to assist and transported Ms. Howard to the Genesee County Jail.[2] (Id.) During the arrest, Ms. Howard, who suffered from severe seizures and was wheelchair-bound, requested medical care at the hospital. (Dkt. 36, p. 5). Officer Belanger refused to allow her to seek treatment. (Id.) Officer Belanger’s report notes that Ms. Howard was lodged at the jail by 9:00 p.m. (Dkt. 39).

Once at the jail, Ms. Howard was medically screened. (Dkt. 36, p. 5). In the course of the next of couple of days, Plaintiff claims that Ms. Howard was not provided with her seizure medication or medical care and as a result suffered numerous seizures and other severe health conditions including internal bleeding and vomiting. (Id. at pp. 5-9). After being taken to the hospital by jail personnel, Ms. Howard, now Plaintiff decedent, died on June 22, 2012. (Id. at p. 9).

On June 16, 2014, Plaintiff brought this instant suit against numerous defendants, including Officer Belanger. (Dkt. 1). The Court’s scheduling order of September 29, 2014, set the discovery cut-off date for June 30, 2015. On March 4, 2015, Plaintiff’s counsel took the depositions of Officer Belanger and Sergeant Quinn.[3] (Dkt. 39). Plaintiff subsequently filed this motion to amend her complaint on March 26, 2015. (Dkt. 36). In her amended complaint, Plaintiff seeks to add Sergeant Quinn as an additional defendant for failing to provide adequate medical care and also seeks to expand her claims against Officer Belanger to include improperly accessing Ms. Howard’s LEIN information. (Id.) The Court took the Aaron Quinn’s patrol car…I transported Mr. Clark and Sgt. Aaron Quinn transported Ms. Howard to the Genesee County Jail.” (Id.) motion under advisement on April 21, 2015. On June 25, 2015, Plaintiff filed an unopposed motion to extend discovery until September 30, 2015. (Dkt. 42).

II. ANALYSIS

A. Standard of Review

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(2), a party who can no longer amend its complaint as of right “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.” Granting a motion for leave to amend the complaint is a matter “within the discretion of the District Court.” Forman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1982). Though discretionary, “[i]n the absence of any apparent or declared reason-such as undue delay, bad faith…undue prejudice to the opposing party by virtue of allowance of the amendment…the leave sought should, as the rule requires, be ‘freely given.’” Id.

Further, the Sixth Circuit has emphasized “that the case law in this Circuit manifests liberality in allowing amendments to complaints.” Janikowski v. Bendix Corp., 823 F.2d 945, 951 (6th Cir. 1987) (internal quotation marks omitted). This is because the “thrust of the provision is to reinforce the principle that cases should be tried on their merits rather than on the technicalities of the pleadings.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted).

B. Discussion

1. Undue Delay


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