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McDaniel v. Fizer

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

January 27, 2014

Tyson McDaniel, Plaintiff,
Greg Fizer, et al., Defendants.



This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File Second Amended Complaint. (Doc. 46) Defendants have not filed a response and the time to do so has expired. See Local Rules of Civil Procedure ("LRCiv") 7.2(c) (providing that a response must be filed within fourteen days after service of the motion).

I. Background

Plaintiff initiated this action by filing a Civil Rights Complaint by a Prisoner on August 9, 2012. (Doc. 1) Upon screening the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), the assigned District Judge dismissed it for failure to state a claim but granted Plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint. (Doc. 5 at 10) On November 15, 2012, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint. (Doc. 7) Upon screening the First Amended Complaint, the District Judge directed several defendants to answer Counts One and Two, but dismissed Count Three without prejudice. (Doc. 8 at 9) Count Three alleges prison officials violated the Eighth Amendment by failing to provide Plaintiff with cleaning supplies and exposing him to unsanitary conditions in his cell. ( Id. at 5-6)

This is Plaintiff's fourth motion to amend the First Amended Complaint. ( See Docs. 15, 26, and 33) The Court denied the previous three because Plaintiff failed to comply with Rule 15.1 of the Local Rules of Civil Procedure ("LRCiv") pertaining to amended pleadings. (Docs. 25, 29, and 44) Although the current motion appears to comply with LRCiv 15.1, the Court concludes it should be denied on other grounds as set forth below.

II. Discussion

Plaintiff seeks leave to amend the First Amended Complaint by adding factual allegations to his Eighth Amendment claim in Count Three. Plaintiff originally alleged in Count Three that his numerous requests for cleaning supplies to clean his cell were denied due to lack of funding and staff to distribute them. Plaintiff names several prison officials who allegedly knew about the lack of cleaning supplies but did nothing to remedy the problem. Plaintiff also alleged he had to walk through pigeon droppings to get from the recreation area back to his cell, causing him to track the droppings into his cell. Plaintiff claims he asked for the stairs to be cleaned and cleaning supplies because he was afraid of contracting MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant-Staphylococcus-Aureus). Plaintiff claims the prison officials were aware he was being exposed to unsanitary conditions and the resulting health risks, but failed to provide cleaning supplies or otherwise remedy the problem. Plaintiff claims they acted with deliberate indifference to his health and safety.

In the instant Motion to Amend, Plaintiff asks the Court to "reconsider and grant Plaintiff's amendment." (Doc. 33 at 1) Plaintiff contends "facts have now been included which show that Defendants were aware of the substantial risk of the infectious disease MRSA, but did nothing to remedy the situation." (Doc. 33 at 2) In addition to alleging new facts regarding the risk of contracting MRSA, Plaintiff also amends Count Three by alleging he was moved in October 2012 to a cell containing a toilet and sink that did not function properly. Plaintiff alleges when the toilet was flushed, contaminated water leaked out from the bottom of the toilet and spread out across the cell floor if not stopped. Plaintiff claims he asked to be moved on a number of occasions but his requests were denied. He further claims that despite prison officials' knowledge of this plumbing problem, he was provided with insufficient supplies to keep the cell clean. Through the new allegations, Plaintiff seeks to add several new defendants to this action.

A. Motion to Amend Legal Standards

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a), which governs the amendment of civil complaints, provides that "leave [to amend a pleading] shall be freely given when justice so requires." "In deciding whether justice requires granting leave to amend, factors to be considered include the presence or absence of undue delay, bad faith, dilatory motive, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by previous amendments, undue prejudice to the opposing party and futility of the proposed amendment." Moore v. Kayport Package Express, Inc., 885 F.2d 531, 538 (9th Cir. 1989) (citing Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962)). A district court need not prolong litigation by permitting further amendment where such amendment would be futile. Lipton v. Pathogenesis Corp., 284 F.3d 1027, 1039 (9th Cir. 2002). Granting or denying a motion to amend is a matter within the court's discretion. See, e.g., Ventress v. Japan Airlines, 603 F.3d 676, 680 (9th Cir. 2010); Chappel v. Laboratory Corp. of Amer., 232 F.3d 719, 725 (9th Cir. 2000). "[A] district court's discretion over amendments is especially broad where the court has already given a plaintiff one or more opportunities to amend his complaint....'" DCD Programs, Ltd. v. Leighton, 833 F.2d 183, 187 n. 3 (9th Cir. 1987) (quoting Mir v. Fosburg, 646 F.2d 342 (9th Cir. 1980)).

B. Application and Analysis

Here, upon consideration of the above factors, the Court finds that leave to amend should be denied. Although there is no evidence of bad faith on Plaintiff's part, two other significant factors weigh against granting leave to amend.

First, the District Judge previously granted Plaintiff leave to amend after his original Complaint failed to state a claim. ( See Doc. 5) Plaintiff was given thirty days to amend the Complaint to cure the deficiencies identified in the screening order. ( Id. ) The Plaintiff then timely filed his First Amended Complaint, pursuant to which the District Judge ordered service upon, and an Answer from, six different defendants. More than seven months after the January 24, 2013 screening order was issued, much of which the United States Marshals Service spent effecting service of process on the defendants, the final two defendants filed their answers. (Doc. 36) The undersigned Magistrate Judge then issued a scheduling and discovery order on September 4, 2013, and discovery is ongoing. Moreover, as noted above, Plaintiff throughout this period tried unsuccessfully to amend the First Amended Complaint on three separate occasions.

This action is nearly a year-and-a-half old. Granting leave to file another amended complaint would essentially start the case over, at least with respect to those defendants Plaintiff seeks to add in his proposed Second Amended Complaint; add more delay and expense in reaching the merits of Plaintiff's claims; and render it less likely the Court and parties could substantially meet the congressional recommended goal established in the Civil Justice Reform Act of a trial in this case eighteen months after the Complaint was filed, see 28 U.S.C. § 473(a)(2); and is inconsistent with Rule 1, Fed.R.Civ.P., ("These rules... shall be construed and administered to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action.") (emphasis ...

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