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Hall v. Chapman

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

December 21, 2016

WALTER LEE HALL #08528-030, Plaintiff,
v.
KEVIN M. CHAPMAN, NICHOLAS JUKURI and FRANK O. FINCH, Defendants.

          TERRENCE G. BERG JUDGE

          OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MAY 10, 2016 MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE AN AMENDED COMPLAINT (DE 20)

          ANTHONY P. PATTI UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. OPINION

         A. Plaintiff's Current, Operative Complaint

         Walter Lee Hall (#08528-030) is currently incarcerated at FTC Oklahoma City.[1] On October 23, 2015, while incarcerated at FCI Milan, Plaintiff filed the instant lawsuit against Officer Chapman (Kevin M. Chapman), N. Jukuri (Nicholas Jukuri) and General Manager Finch (Frank O. Finch). (DE 1; see also DEs 8-10.) Plaintiff sues Defendants in their personal and official capacities. (See DE 1-2; see also DE 1 at 18, 22.)

         Judge Berg has referred this case to me to conduct pretrial matters. On April 13, 2016, I entered an order denying without prejudice Plaintiff's March 28, 2016 motion to grant amended complaint and holding Defendants' motion to dismiss in abeyance. (DE 19.) In so doing, I noted that Plaintiff had not complied with E.D. Mich. LR 15.1 and also that the Court was unable to determine whether an amendment was warranted or whether it would be futile. (DE 19 at 2-3.)

         B. Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint

         Currently before the Court are two motions: (1) Defendants' March 7, 2016 motion to dismiss (DE 13), regarding which the Court has recently entered a December 12, 2016 report recommending dismissal of certain aspects of Plaintiff's original complaint (DE 30); and (2) Plaintiff's May 10, 2016 motion for leave to file an amended complaint, which is accompanied by a proposed first amended complaint (DE 20).

         Defendants have filed a response. (DE 23.) Plaintiff has filed a reply. (DE 28.)

         C. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15 (“Amended and Supplemental Pleadings”)

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a), a party may amend its pleadings at this stage of the proceedings only after obtaining leave of court. The Rule provides that the Court should freely give leave for a party to amend its pleading “when justice so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). “Nevertheless, leave to amend ‘should be denied if the amendment is brought in bad faith, for dilatory purposes, results in undue delay or prejudice to the opposing party, or would be futile.”' Carson v. U.S. Office of Special Counsel, 663 F.3d 487, 495 (6th Cir. 2011) (quoting Crawford v. Roane, 53 F.3d 750, 753 (6th Cir. 1995)).

         The same standard of review and rationale apply to a motion to supplement under Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(d) as to a motion to amend under Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a). Spies v. Voinovich, 48 F. App'x 520, 527 (6th Cir.2002). “The granting or denial of motions under Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a) to amend pleadings after responsive pleading have been served and of motions under Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(d) to supplement pleadings is within the sound discretion of the trial court.” McCormack v. Frank, No. 93- 5416, 1994 WL 419589, 5 (6th Cir. Aug. 10, 1994) (citing cases).

         D. Discussion

         1. The Court has recommended that only a portion of Plaintiff's original complaint survives Defendants' dispositive motion.

         In the Court's December 12, 2016 report, I opined that Plaintiff's original complaint consisted of claims against Chapman based on the events of September and October 2014, claims against Finch based on the events of November 2014, claims against Finch and Jukuri based on the events of May 2015, and claims against Jukuri based on the events of September 2015. (DE 30 at 8-13.) I then concluded that AR Nos. 839039, 839043 and 842104 were not exhausted at the time Plaintiff filed his original complaint, AR No. 815809 was exhausted at the time Plaintiff filed his original complaint, but AR No. 815809-F1 properly exhausted only some of Plaintiff's claims in the original complaint. (Id. at 13-23.)

         Furthermore, I concluded that Plaintiff had not stated the “protected conduct” aspect of a First Amendment retaliation claim. (Id. at 23-26.) Finally, I concluded that, if the Court agreed with my report and recommendation, then only Plaintiff's personal capacity equal protection claims against Defendant Chapman concerning the events of September and October 2014 should survive Defendants' dispositive motion. (Id. at 26-28.)

         2. There are several differences between the original and proposed first amended complaints.

         At the outset, I notice at least three differences between the original complaint (without its attachments) and the proposed first amended complaint. First, Plaintiff's proposed amended complaint seeks to add Defendant D. Swetz, who is described as a Milan FCI H-Unit Counselor. (Compare DE 1 at 1-2, DE 20 at 4-5.)

         Second, the original and proposed amended complaints differ in length and content. (Compare DE 1 at 5-10, DE 20 at 8-12.) Although the original complaint contains a 10-page attachment titled, “memorandum of law in support of granting Bivens civil action, ” (see DE 1 at 18-28), the “Statement of Facts” which makes up the core of Plaintiff's original complaint spans the period from July 2014 through September 2015; yet, it is not delineated into causes of action. By comparison, the core of Plaintiff's proposed first amended complaint - while still concerning the alleged events of July 2014 through September 2015 - contains what appear to be related claims for: (a) retaliation in violation of the First Amendment; (b) conspiracy; and, (c) violation of his right to equal protection. At the same time, it provides less detail, such as dates, regarding the facts underlying the complaint. (Compare DE 1 at 5-10, DE 20 at 8-12.)

         Third, the proposed amended complaint's prayer for relief increases the compensatory damages sought from $5, 000.00 to $10, 000.00. (Compare DE 1 at 11, DE 20 at 13.)

         3. The Court will not permit Plaintiff to amend his original complaint with Plaintiff's proposed first amended complaint in its current form.

         Here, the question before the Court is whether it should allow Plaintiff to amend his original complaint to add Defendant Swetz and to substitute Plaintiff's claims as set forth in his original complaint with his claims as set forth in his proposed first amended complaint. Defendants oppose Plaintiff's motion “on the grounds of futility.” (DE 23 at 1, 8-9.) Each of Defendants' five sub-arguments (see DE 23 at 9-18) will be addressed as follows:

         a. AR No. 815809 was exhausted at the time Plaintiff's original complaint was filed on October 23, 2015.

         In response to Plaintiff's May 10, 2016 motion for leave to file an amended complaint, Defendants argue that Plaintiff “did not exhaust most of the items in his amended complaint before bringing the instant suit.” (DE 23 at 9-10.) My December 12, 2016 report and recommendation regarding Defendants' March 7, 2016 dispositive motion thoroughly discussed the issue of exhaustion and ultimately concluded that, of the five (5) seemingly relevant grievances - AR Nos. 808450, 815809, 839039, 839043 & 842104 - only AR 815809 was exhausted at the time Plaintiff's original complaint was filed. (DE 30 at 13-23).

         Plaintiff's August 8, 2016 reply to the instant motion does argue that there is “good cause for the failure to exhaust, ” that his claims “are not plainly meritless, ” and that he “did not engage in dilatory tactics[, ]” thus authorizing the Court to stay this lawsuit and hold it in abeyance “while administrative remedies are fully exhausted with the Bureau of Prisons . . . .” (See DE 28 at 2-5.) Moreover, Plaintiff suggests the Court find the ...


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