United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
DAFINKA STOJCEVSKI, individually and as Personal Representative of the Estate of DAVID STOJCEVSKI, Plaintiff,
COUNTY OF MACOMB, et al. Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER REJECTING DEFENDANTS'
OBJECTIONS TO MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S SEPTEMBER 15, 2017 ORDER
AND AFFIRMING ORDER
V. PARKER U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
a civil rights action arising from the death of Plaintiff s
decedent while incarcerated at the Macomb County Jail. On May
30, 2017, Plaintiff filed a motion seeking leave to file a
Second Amended Complaint and to extend by ninety days the
deadlines in the scheduling order. Plaintiffs proposed
amended complaint added inter alia eleven Macomb
County corrections officers. The Court referred Plaintiffs
motion to Magistrate Judge David R. Grand, who granted the
motion on September 15, 2017. (ECF No. 99.) Defendants Macomb
County, Anthony M. Wickersham, and Michelle M. Sanborn
(collectively "County Defendants") filed objections
to Magistrate Judge Grand's order on September 29, 2017.
(ECF No. 109.) The County Defendants argue that Magistrate
Judge Grand's decision rests on a factual error and is
contrary to law.
party objects to a magistrate judge's non-dispositive
decision, the reviewing court must affirm the magistrate
judge's ruling unless the objecting party demonstrates
that it is "clearly erroneous" or "contrary to
law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a); 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A).
The "clearly erroneous" standard does not empower a
reviewing court to reverse a magistrate judge's finding
because it would have decided the matter differently.
See, e.g., Anderson v. Bessemer City, N.C., 470 U.S.
564, 573-74 (1985). Instead, the "clearly
erroneous" standard is met when despite the existence of
evidence to support the finding, the court, upon reviewing
the record in its entirety, "is left with the definite
and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed."
Id. (quoting United States v. U.S. Gypsum
Co., 333 U.S. 364, 395 (1948)). For the reasons that
follow, this Court finds no error in Magistrate Judge
County Defendants first contend that Magistrate Judge Grand
committed a factual error when he concluded that Plaintiff
diligently conducted discovery and was delayed by the County
Defendants in identifying the eleven corrections officers she
sought to add as defendants. The County Defendants indicate
that on September 16, 2016-nearly 9 months before the close
of discovery-they provided Plaintiff with a copy of a mental
health logbook from the period of the decedent's housing
in the jail's Mental Health Unit. The County Defendants
maintain that the logbook contained the names of each
corrections officer on the unit, as well as their assigned
Court cannot find that Magistrate Judge Grand erred in
concluding that the logbook did not inform Plaintiffs counsel
of what they needed to know to amend the Complaint. The
logbook appears to identify by last name the officers on each
shift. (See ECF No. 109-2.) However, the entries are
not comprehensive and do not identify what each corrections
officer did or saw or which entries are made by which
officers. Thus, they do not provide the specific identity of
the corrections officers who interacted with the decedent and
what their interactions were. For that reason, it was not
error for Magistrate Judge Grand to accept Plaintiffs
assertion that her counsel had to conduct the "arduous
and time-consuming endeavor" of reviewing 240 hours of
videotape to identify precisely what interaction each
corrections officer had with the decedent. As Plaintiffs
counsel was aware from the Court's November 9, 2015
opinion and order dismissing officers named in Plaintiffs
First Amended Complaint (see ECF No. 42), any
proposed amendment submitted without alleging the specific
conduct of each officer would have been futile.
County Defendants also argue that Magistrate Judge
Grand's decision is contrary to this Court's November
9 decision. Citing footnote 6 of the decision, the County
Defendants contend that the Court indicated Plaintiff could
later amend her pleading only to include individuals
originally named and dismissed, which meant only two of the
eleven corrections officers included in the Second Amended
Complaint (i.e., Paul Harrison and John Talos).
concluding that Plaintiff failed to identify the individual
defendants' personal involvement in the alleged
constitutional violation and therefore should be dismissed,
the Court advised in footnote 6:
The Amended Complaint reflects that [Plaintiffs decedent] had
a serious medical need to which someone was indifferent and
that over the course of several days, he exhibited signs of
distress. The Court wants to be clear that if, through
discovery, Plaintiff uncovers evidence suggesting that any
dismissed individual was aware of [the Plaintiffs decedent]
's condition during this period and was deliberately
indifferent to his serious medical needs, Plaintiff may move
to re-name that individual as a party to this lawsuit at that
(ECF No. 42 at Pg ID 898.) This language does not address
Plaintiffs ability to seek a subsequent amendment adding
individuals not previously named. Instead, what the Court
clearly was conveying was that its dismissal of particular
individuals did not preclude Plaintiff from later seeking to
rename them in this action.
the County Defendants argue that Magistrate Judge Grand's
decision is contrary to law because he applied the wrong
legal standard in evaluating Plaintiffs motion. Citing
Leary v. Daeschner, 349 F.3d 888, 905-06 (6th Cir.
2003), the County Defendants maintain that a party should be
permitted to amend a pleading only upon a showing of
"good cause" when the request to amend requires the
modification of a Rule 16 scheduling order. In
Leary, the Sixth Circuit held that once the deadline
for amending the pleadings in the scheduling order expires, a
party seeking an amendment must show good cause for failing
to timely seek the amendment before the propriety of the
amendment will be considered under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 15. Leary, 349 F.3d at 905-06. The
scheduling order in the present matter did not set a deadline
for the parties to amend their pleadings, however.
(See ECF No. 64.) In any event, this Court concludes
that good cause was established.
to Leary, a party seeking to amend must "show
good cause for failure to move for leave to amend before
expiration of the deadlines in the court's scheduling
order" and a lack of prejudice to the non-movant.
Leary, 349 F.3d at 905-06. Magistrate Judge Grand in
fact evaluated both considerations in his decision, although
in the context of the factors relevant to a request to amend
under Rule 15. First, Magistrate Judge Grand evaluated
whether there was justification (i.e., good cause) for
Plaintiffs failure to seek the requested amendments earlier.
(See ECF No. 99 at Pg ID 2142-44.) Next, he
considered whether Defendants were unduly prejudiced by the
amendment. (Id. at Pg ID 2144-45.) This Court finds
no error in Magistrate Judge Grand's analysis of those
short, the Court rejects the County Defendants'
objections to Magistrate Judge Grand's September 15, 2017
order and AFFIRMS the decision.