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Ramos v. Dep't of Correction

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

March 3, 2017

JOSE ERIC RAMOS, Plaintiff,
v.
DEP'T OF CORRECTION, ET AL., Defendants.

          RULING ON MOTIONS TO AMEND, TO DISMISS, FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND PROPOSED SUPPLEMENTAL COMPLAINTS

          VICTOR A. BOLDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff, Jose Eric Ramos, is currently confined at MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield, Connecticut (“MacDougall-Walker”). He initiated this action by filing a civil rights complaint asserting claims under the First and Fourteenth Amendments as well as under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, (“RLUIPA”) 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc, et seq. against the Department of Correction, Reverend Bruno, Counselor Arcouette and John Doe Commissioner of the Department of Correction. Compl., ECF No. 1.

         On February 24, 2016, the Court dismissed all claims for monetary damages against the defendants in their official capacities under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(2) and all other claims against the Department of Correction and Counselor Arcouette under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1). See Initial Review Order, ECF No. 9. The Court concluded that the First Amendment free exercise claim, the Fourteenth Amendment equal protection claim and RLUIPA claim would proceed against the Commissioner of Correction and Reverend Bruno in their individual and official capacities. Id. at 7. The Court informed Mr. Ramos that the U.S. Marshal could not serve the Commissioner of Correction until he identified the Commissioner by name. Id. at 8. On March 16, 2016, Mr. Ramos identified the Commissioner of Correction as Leo C. Arnone. Notice, ECF No. 13. On April 25, 2016, the Court directed the clerk to add Leo C. Arnone as a Defendant and to terminate the defendant known as Commissioner of Correction. Order, ECF No. 16.

         Mr. Ramos has filed a motion to amend the Complaint (ECF No. 22), two motions for summary judgment (ECF Nos. 26, 36) and two proposed supplemental complaints (ECF Nos. 44, 48). Defendants have filed a motion to dismiss. See Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 29. For the reasons set forth below, the motion to amend is GRANTED, the motions for summary judgment and to dismiss are DENIED without prejudice, and the supplemental complaints shall be stricken from the docket.

         I. Motions for Leave to Amend and to Dismiss [ECF Nos. 22, 29]

         Mr. Ramos seeks leave to file an amended complaint to add former Deputy Commissioner Scott Semple and former Commissioner Dzurenda as defendants. Mot. Leave Amend, 1. He claims that on April 16, 2014, he wrote to Commissioner Dzurenda and stated that he had not received the tarot cards that he had ordered and had been approved by Bruno in May 2013. Id. at p. 2, 2. On June 23, 2014, Deputy Commissioner Semple responded to the letter and indicated that neither he nor Dzurenda would take any action to correct the situation. Mr. Ramos also seeks to add a deprivation of property claim with regard to the tarot cards that he paid for in May 2013, but he has never received. Id. at 5.

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(1) provides that a plaintiff may amend his complaint once as of right “within: (A) 21 days after serving [the complaint], or (B) . . . [within] 21 days after service of a responsive pleading or 21 days after service of a motion” to dismiss, for more definite statement or to strike, “whichever is earlier.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1). Because Defendants had not filed an answer or moved to dismiss before the filing of the motion to amend, Mr. Ramos may amend once as a matter of right. Accordingly, the motion to amend is granted.

         Ordinarily, the Court would direct the Clerk to docket the proposed amended complaint attached to the motion to amend. In this instance, however, the proposed amended complaint is incomplete. Mr. Ramos describes the proposed amended complaint as “an addition to the original complaint.” Mot. Leave Amend, 1.

         An amended complaint, however, completely replaces the original complaint. In re Crysen/Montenay Energy Co., 226 F.3d 160, 162 (2d Cir.2000); Harris v. City of N.Y., 186 F.3d 243, 249 (2d Cir.1999) (explaining that an “Amended Complaint is the legally effective pleading for Rule 12(b)(6) purposes” (internal citation omitted)); Pratt v. City of N.Y., 929 F.Supp.2d 314, 319 (S.D.N.Y. 2013) (“However, the general rule is that an amended complaint supersedes an original complaint and renders it without legal effect.”). Thus, Mr. Ramos cannot simply file an amended complaint that only asserts new claims sought to be added. Although the proposed amended complaint includes the First Amendment free exercise claim and RLUIPA claim against Reverend Bruno, it does not mention or include claims against former Commissioner Arnone or the Fourteenth Amendment equal protection claim against Reverend Bruno. See Mot. Leave Amend, p. 2.

         In addition, the proposed amended complaint is deficient because the title on the first page lists Defendants as Department of Correction, et al. See Mot. Leave Amend, p. 2. The title of a complaint or amended complaint must list all of the defendants. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 10(a). The proposed amended complaint also fails to include a request for relief as required by Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(3), Accordingly, the Court directs Mr. Ramos to file an amended complaint that includes himself as Plaintiff and Commissioner Arnone, Commissioner Dzurenda, Deputy Commissioner Scott Semple and Reverend Bruno as Defendants in the title on the first page and also includes request for relief. In addition, the amended complaint should include the First Amendment free exercise claim, the RLUIPA claim and Fourteenth Amendment equal protection claim as asserted in the original complaint against Reverend Bruno and Commissioner Arnone and the deprivation of property claim and the free exercise of religion claim as asserted in the proposed amended complaint against Commissioner Dzurenda and Deputy Commissioner Semple. In view of the order directing Mr. Ramos to file an amended complaint, the motion to dismiss (ECF No. 29) addressed to the complaint will be dismissed without prejudice.

         II. Proposed Supplemental Complaints [ECF Nos. 44, 48]

         On July 19, 2016, Mr. Ramos filed a first proposed supplemental complaint. On August 23, 2016, Mr. Ramos filed a second proposed supplemental complaint. Rule 15(d) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits a party to move to file a supplemental pleading and the district court to grant such a motion, in the exercise of its discretion, upon “reasonable notice” and “on just terms.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(d). Mr. Ramos did not seek leave to file either of the supplemental complaints as required by Rule 15(d). Thus, they were improperly filed.

         Even if the Court construed the supplemental complaints as motions seeking leave to file them, the Court would deny the motions. A motion to supplement pleadings under Rule 15(d) is properly filed when a party seeks to plead a “transaction, occurrence or event that happened after the date of the pleading to be supplemented.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(d). “A trial court has broad discretion in determining whether to grant a motion to file a supplemental [complaint] under Rule 15(d).” Biosafe-One, Inc. v. Hawks, 639 F.Supp.2d 358, 370 (S.D.N.Y. 2009), aff'd, 379 F. App'x 4 (2d Cir. 2010).

         In deciding whether to grant a plaintiff's motion to supplement a pleading based on Rule 15(d), a district court should consider “undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on the part of the movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing party by virtue of allowance of the amendment, [and] futility of amendment.” Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962). Thus, district courts should contemplate prejudice to the opposing party and, in their discretion grant “supplementation [where it] will promote the economic and speedy disposition of the controversy between the parties, will not cause undue delay or trial inconvenience, and will not prejudice the rights of any other party.” Bornholdt v. Brady, 869 F.2d 57, 68 (2d Cir. 1989) (citations omitted).

         A district court may grant permission to file supplemental pleadings under Rule 15(d), when it determines that “the supplemental facts connect it to the original pleading.” See Quaratino v. Tiffany & Co., 71 F.3d 58, 66 (2d Cir. 1995) (plaintiff's proposed supplemental complaint was related to the original complaint when it added a retaliation charge to her original pleading, which made out a prima facie case of pregnancy discrimination). The Court will not permit Mr. Ramos to add the unrelated claims set forth in the proposed supplemental complaint. See LaBarbera v. Audax Construction Corp., 971 F.Supp.2d 273, 285 (E.D.N.Y. 2013) (denying motion to amend or supplement complaint on ground that new claims sought to be added involved issues that were “wholly unrelated” to the resolution of claims included in the complaint) (citations omitted); Walls v. Fischer, 615 F.Supp.2d 75, 85 (W.D.N.Y. 2009) (denying motion to file supplemental complaint because new claims ...


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