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Abrams v. Waters

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

December 21, 2019

DAVID A. ABRAMS, No. 241224, a/k/a ABRAHAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
CORRECTIONS OFFICER WATERS AND CAPT. NUNEZ, sued in their individual capacities; CORRECTIONS OFFICER PHILLIPS; DISCIPLINARY REPORT INVESTIGATOR KELLY; CAPT. JOHN WATSON; WARDEN SCOTT ERFE; MAINTENANCE SUPERVISOR JOHN DOE; and MAILROOM HANDLER CORRECTIONS OFFICER RAMIREZ, sued in their individual and official capacity, Defendants.

          RULING ON PLAINTIFF'S SECOND MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE AN AMENDED COMPLAINT [DOC. 51]

          CHARLES S. HAIGHT, JR. SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Pro se plaintiff, David A. Abrams, an inmate currently incarcerated at MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield, Connecticut, has brought this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against various prison officials employed at Cheshire Correctional Institution ("Cheshire C.I."), where he was previously housed. Following the Court's “Initial Review Order” (entered 2/2/2018) and the Court's “Ruling” granting Plaintiff's motion for leave to file an Amended Complaint (entered 6/8/2018), the defendants remaining in the action include: Corrections Officer Phillips, Captain Nunez, and Captain John Watson (herein “Defendants”).[1] The claims which the Court ruled may proceed as plausible claims are: (1) the Eighth Amendment excessive force claim against Phillips, (2) the Eighth Amendment failure to protect claim against Nunez, (3) the Eighth Amendment hazardous conditions of confinement claim against Watson, and (4) the state law claims for assault, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress against Phillips.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Plaintiff's Second Request to Amend

         Currently pending before the Court is Plaintiff's second motion to amend his complaint, Doc. 51. Through this motion, Plaintiff seeks to add new claims - for cruel and unusual punishment and deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs - and two new defendants, Corrections Officers Rivera and Johnson. Plaintiff alleges these proposed claims arose after corrections officers intervened to end an altercation between Plaintiff and his cell mate, John Brown, whom Plaintiff alleges attacked him on August 4, 2017. Specifically, Plaintiff requests to add: (1) deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs by Officers Rivera and Johnson, who when waiting with Plaintiff in the examination room at UCONN Medical Center in August 2017 failed to do more than provide Plaintiff with “cold[, ] damp paper towels for him to apply” to portions of his body that he claims were burning from mace; and (2) failure to allow Plaintiff to shower until nine hours passed “after being mased [sic].” Doc. 51, at 4 (¶¶ 119-23).

         B. Standard to Amend Complaint

         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15, a plaintiff may amend his complaint once as a matter of course within twenty-one days after service of the complaint; or within twenty-one days after service of a responsive pleading or twenty-one days after service of a motion under Rule 12(b), (e), or (f), whichever is earlier. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(1)(A) and (B). In all other cases, the plaintiff may amend his complaint only with the opposing party's written consent or the Court's leave. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). In the present case, Abrams has filed his second motion for leave to amend so may not amend his complaint as a matter of right. Absent opposing parties' written consent, which he does not have, Plaintiff may only amend “with the court's leave, ” which shall be “freely give[n] . . . when justice so requires.” Id.

         Whether to grant leave to amend ultimately lies within the court's discretion, taking into account factors set forth by the United States Supreme Court in Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962). Under Foman, “[i]n the absence of any apparent or declared reason-such as 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, futility of the amendment, etc.-the leave sought [to amend] should, as the rules require, be ‘freely given.' ” 371 U.S. at 182.

         In addition, with respect to pro se litigants, it is well-established that “[p]ro se submissions are reviewed with special solicitude, and ‘must be construed liberally and interpreted to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest.' ” Matheson v. Deutsche Bank Nat'l Tr. Co., 706 Fed.Appx. 24, 26 (2d Cir. 2017) (quoting Triestman v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 470 F.3d 471, 474 (2d Cir. 2006) (per curiam)). A proposed amended complaint by a pro se litigant will thus be construed liberally, assuming the truth of the allegations and interpreting them to raise the strongest arguments they may suggest. Abbas v. Dixon, 480 F.3d 636, 639 (2d Cir. 2007).

         C.Analysis

         1. Undue Prejudice and Undue Delay to Amend

         Upon careful review of Plaintiff's motion, the Court finds that leave to amend in the present circumstances would result in undue prejudice to the Defendants. In determining what constitutes prejudice, the Court considers whether the amendment would: “(i) require the opponent to expend significant additional resources to conduct discovery and prepare for trial; (ii) significantly delay the resolution of the dispute; or (iii) prevent the plaintiff from bringing a timely action in another jurisdiction.” Block v. First Blood Assocs., 988 F.2d 344, 350 (2d Cir. 1993). “The longer the period of unexplained delay, the less will be required of the nonmoving party in terms of a showing of prejudice.” Evans v. Syracuse City Sch. Dist., 704 F.2d 44, 47 (2d Cir. 1983) (citation omitted).

         In the case at bar, discovery should have proceeded to the point of completion so that adding new claims and new defendants at this point would inflict “undue prejudice” on the current defendants, who would have to incur additional time and expense to investigate the new claims. Also, the addition of the new defendants and new claims would cause ...


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