United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING AND ORDER
Michael P. Shea, U.S.D.J.
19, 2018, the Plaintiff filed a complaint for declaratory and
injunctive relief against Scott Semple in his official
capacity as the Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of
Correction. ECF No. 1. On September 28, 2018, the Defendant
filed a motion to strike class action allegations from the
complaint, ECF No. 13, and a motion to dismiss the action
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and
12(b)(6), ECF No. 14. The Court subsequently permitted the
Plaintiff to file an amended complaint, ECF No. 15, and gave
the Plaintiff until November 20, 2018 to do so, ECF No. 17.
On November 20, 2018, the Plaintiff filed a motion for leave
to amend the complaint, ECF No. 23, and a motion to join
Commissioner Semple in his individual capacity and four
additional plaintiffs, ECF No. 24. The Defendant opposes both
motions. ECF Nos. 28 & 29.
reasons stated below, the motion to amend and the motion for
joinder are hereby GRANTED.
Motion to Amend the Complaint
Court previously authorized the filing of an amended
complaint by November 20, 2018-the date Plaintiffs filed the
motion to amend and the motion for joinder. ECF Nos. 15 &
17. Moreover, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(2)
provides that a party may amend its pleading with "the
court's leave" and instructs the Court to
"freely give leave when justice so requires."
Defendant argues that the amended complaint fails to comply
with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8. ECF No. 28. This rule
provides that a pleading must contain "a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Although the
Plaintiffs' proposed amended complaint is lengthy,
"long and involved complaints do not per se fail to pass
the test of sufficiency under Rule 8." Burke v.
Dowling, 944 F.Supp. 1036, 1049 (E.D.N.Y.1995) (citing
Karlinsky v. New York Racing Ass'n, 52 F.R.D.
40, 43 (S.D.N.Y. 1971)). "Rule 8 is designed primarily
to ensure that courts and adverse parties can understand a
claim and frame a response to it." Ibid. Here,
the Defendants argue that the proposed amended complaint
contains irrelevant and unnecessary allegations about medical
issues and interactions with non-defendants. ECF No. 28 at
3-4. However, such assertions are not irrelevant to
allegations of deliberately indifferent medical care, which
may require an understanding of a person's medical
history, or to allegations of a failure to supervise, which
may require an understanding of interactions with
Defendant further argues that the proposed amendments,
especially those related to money damages claims, are futile.
"[W]hile 'futility' is a valid reason for
denying a motion to amend, this is true only where it is
beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in
support of his amended claims." Pangburn v.
Culbertson, 200 F.3d 65, 70-71 (2d Cir. 1999) (internal
quotation marks and citations omitted). Here, the Defendant
argues the amendments are futile because there is no
respondeat superior liability, no standing, and the
Defendant's actions would be entitled to qualified
immunity. Turning first to respondeat superior
liability, the Defendant concedes that the Second Circuit has
not repudiated its holding in Colon v. Coughlin, 58
F.3d 865 (2d Cir. 1995), meaning the supervisory liability
can be shown in the following ways:
(1) actual direct participation in the constitutional
violation, (2) failure to remedy a wrong after being informed
through a report or appeal, (3) creation of a policy or
custom that sanctioned conduct amounting to a constitutional
violation, or allowing such a policy or custom to continue,
(4) grossly negligent supervision of subordinates who
committed a violation, or (5) failure to act on information
indicating that unconstitutional acts were occurring.
Hernandez v. Keane, 341 F.3d 137, 145 (2d Cir.
2003). At least absent full briefing under Rule 12(b)(6), the
Defendant does not show that the Plaintiffs fail to allege
failure to supervise under this law. Similarly, with regard
to standing, the Defendant cannot make this showing in light
of the Plaintiffs' claim for compensatory and punitive
damages. Finally, the Defendant argues that in the context of
this case, "any proposed complaint that includes money
damages would be subject to a motion to dismiss and the money
damages claims would be barred by qualified immunity."
ECF No. 28 at 14. However, a determination about qualified
immunity at this stage of litigation would be premature and
the Defendant does not meet the high standard required to
the Plaintiffs' motion to amend is GRANTED without
prejudice to the filing of a motion to dismiss.
Motion for Joinder
Defendant opposes the joinder of Commissioner Semple in his
individual capacity. ECF No. 29. Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 20(a)(2) provides that defendants may be joined in
one action if the following requirements are met:
(A) any right to relief is asserted against them jointly,
severally, or in the alternative with respect to or arising
out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of
transactions or occurrences; and
(B) any question of law or fact common to all defendants will
arise in the action. While the Court is sympathetic to the
plight of the soon-to-be retired Commissioner, the same set
of facts provide the foundation for the individual and