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Johnson v. City of New Haven

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

March 12, 2019

BOBBY JOHNSON, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF NEW HAVEN et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART MOTION TO AMEND COMPLAINT

          JEFFREY ALKER MEYER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Bobby Johnson has sued the City of New Haven and individual defendants Clarence Willoughby, Michael Quinn, Francisco Ortiz, Patrick Redding, Herman Badger, and Andrew Muro for wrongful arrest, conviction, and imprisonment. See Doc. #23. Johnson now moves for leave to amend his complaint principally to add as a defendant New Haven Police Department Sergeant Christopher Mahon, who Johnson alleges supervised Willoughby and Quinn's investigation into the murder for which Johnson alleges that he was wrongfully convicted. Doc. #138 at 1-2.

         I will deny the motion to amend except to the extent that it is unopposed with respect to dismissal of Count 6 in its entirety. I conclude that Johnson did not exercise due diligence in failing to add Mahon as a defendant at a much earlier time in this litigation. I also conclude that allowing Johnson to amend the complaint at this late date would work substantial and unfair prejudice to the remaining defendants. Lastly, I conclude that the proposed amendment would be futile, because the statute of limitations has now elapsed for Johnson's proposed claims against Mahon.

         Background

         The following facts are set forth as alleged by Johnson in his amended complaint. Doc. #23. Herbert Fields was shot and killed in New Haven on August 1, 2006. Id. at 5 (¶ 15). New Haven police investigated the killing, including an investigation by detectives Clarence Willoughby and Michael Quinn. Ibid. (¶ 16). Francisco Ortiz was chief of the New Haven Police Department at the time. Id. at 3 (¶ 9). Herman Badger served as Officer in Charge of the department's detective bureau until August 1, 2006, when he became Assistant Chief. Id. at 4-5 (¶ 13). Andrew Muro led the detective bureau from then until April of 2007, and Patrick Redding then became Officer in Charge. Ibid. (¶¶ 12, 14).

         Johnson alleges that Willoughby and Quinn engaged in numerous acts of misconduct during the investigation, including obtaining false confessions from him and deliberately discounting evidence that a different suspect-Richard Benson-was responsible for the murder. See Id. at 7-8 (¶¶ 25-28), 12-13 (¶¶ 39-42). Johnson's amended complaint also alleges that Quinn and Willoughby engaged in improper interrogation tactics against Johnson's friend Kwame Wells-Jordan in September of 2006, while working alongside “an unidentified NHPD supervisor.” Id. at 9 (¶ 30). The complaint similarly alleges that the unnamed “NHPD supervisor” participated in improper interrogation tactics against Wells-Jordan a second time in November of that year. Id. at 14 (¶ 45); 18-19 (¶ 60).

         Johnson spent nine years in prison for the charge of murdering Fields. In 2010, he brought a habeas corpus petition in state court to develop evidence of his innocence, and in 2015, the Connecticut Superior Court at New Haven vacated his conviction, nolled the charges against him, and allowed Johnson to be released from prison. Id. at 28 (¶¶ 82-85).

         On September 1, 2017, Johnson sued defendants alleging numerous violations of his civil rights. See Doc. #1. Johnson filed an amended complaint on October 26, 2017. Doc. #23. He currently maintains claims against Willoughby and Quinn for fabricating evidence and coercing confessions against him, as well as for malicious prosecution and a civil rights conspiracy (Counts 1-3, 5), id. at 29-32 (¶¶ 91-106), 35-36 (¶¶ 115-18); claims against all individual defendants for violating his due process and fair trial rights (Count 4), id. at 33-35 (¶¶ 107-14); a supervisory liability claim against Ortiz, Redding, Badger, and Muro (Count 7), id. at 37-38 (¶¶ 123-28); a municipal liability claim against the City of New Haven (Count 8), id. at 38-41 (¶¶ 129-37); and various claims under Connecticut state law (Counts 9-15), id. at 42-49 (¶¶ 138-75).

         On November 1, 2017, the parties submitted their Rule 26(f) Planning Report, which stipulated to a deadline of December 29, 2017, for amending the pleadings or joining parties. Doc. #24 at 5. I adopted the deadline in the initial scheduling order the following day. Doc. #25.

         More than a year passed before Johnson filed the instant motion on February 11, 2019, to amend his complaint in order to add Mahon as a defendant alongside Willoughby and Quinn to Counts 1-5 and to Counts 9-13 (alleging individual-rather than municipal-liability under Connecticut law). Doc. #138 at 1. Johnson argues that Mahon served as Quinn and Willoughby's direct supervisor when they investigated the Fields murder, and that his counsel only learned of Mahon's role from the respective depositions of Muro and Badger that took place on January 4 and 22, 2019. Id. at 2. Johnson also argues that he only learned the full scope of Quinn's misconduct in the investigation of Benson-such as bypassing key pieces of evidence-at a deposition of Quinn on November 28, 2018. Id. at 5.

         Johnson's proposed second amended complaint alleges that Mahon was the “NHPD supervisor” involved in the Wells-Jordan interrogations, Doc. #138-2 at 10-11 (¶ 31), 15-16 (¶ 48), 21 (¶ 65), that Mahon was present when Quinn mishandled an interview with Benson, id. at 14-15 (¶¶ 44-45), that Mahon supervised and received contemporaneous reports from Quinn and Willoughby of every mishandled interview or interrogation in the Fields investigation, id. at 17 (¶¶ 53-54), and that Mahon specifically called Willoughby in to work on the Fields investigation, id. at 20 (¶ 63).

         Discussion

          Because Johnson's proposed amendment comes well after the deadline for amended pleadings in the Court's scheduling order, Johnson must show good cause to modify the deadline for amending his complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16(b)(4). See BPP Ill., LLC v. Royal Bank of Scotland Grp. PLC, 859 F.3d 188, 195 (2d Cir. 2017). “[T]he primary consideration is whether the moving party can demonstrate diligence, ” as well as “other relevant factors including, in particular, whether allowing the amendment of the ...


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