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Rodriguez v. City of Phoenix

United States District Court, D. Arizona

March 19, 2014

REFUGIO RODRIGUEZ and JOSEPHINE RODRIGUEZ, husband and wife, Plaintiffs,
CITY OF PHOENIX, a municipality; MARICOPA COUNTY, a political subdivision of the State of Arizona; Defendants.


JAMES A. TEILBORG, Senior District Judge.

Pending before the Court are Defendants Maricopa County and City of Phoenix's Motions for Summary Judgment (Docs. 55, 57). Plaintiff Refugio Rodriguez has filed a single joint Response (Doc. 60) that does not respond to the merits of Defendants' two Motions. Instead, Plaintiff requests that the Court deny Defendants' motions under Rule 56(d). (Doc. 60 at 2). Additionally, Plaintiff moves to Amend the Complaint Under Rule 15 and to Add Parties Under Rule 21. ( Id. ). The Court now rules on the motions.


For purposes of the Court's resolution of the pending summary judgment motion, the Court considers the relevant facts and background to be as follows.[1]

A. Factual Background

On May 11, 2011, Officers Neidenbach and Mills were on patrol and observed Plaintiff, Refugio Rodriguez, drop something behind a small wall. (Defendant City of Phoenix's Separate Statement of Facts in Support of Its Motion for Summary Judgment ("PHXSOF"), Doc. 58 ¶ 1). The officers investigated, discovered two baggies of marijuana, ordered Plaintiff to stop, and chased Plaintiff after Plaintiff refused. ( Id. ¶¶ 2-3). Upon catching up to Plaintiff, Plaintiff struggled, assaulted[2] Officer Mills, and the Officers attempted to physically restrain Plaintiff. ( Id. ¶¶ 3-5). During the struggle, Plaintiff refused multiple commands to cease resistance, flipped onto his back, struck Officer Mills repeatedly, and grabbed Officer Mill's taser pouch inside Officer Mill's vest. ( Id. ¶¶ 5-7). After taking Plaintiff into custody, paramedics examined and cleared Plaintiff, and Plaintiff was booked into jail. ( Id. ¶ 8). Booking photos indicate only a minor "road rash" injury sustained by Plaintiff on his back while struggling with the Officers. ( Id. ). The City of Phoenix ("Phoenix") Police Department investigated the incident and concluded that the Officers' use of force was reasonable and necessary to restrain and arrest Plaintiff. ( Id. ¶¶ 10-11).

Upon arrival at the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office jail facility, a Correctional Health Services (a subdivision of Maricopa County) technician reviewed Plaintiff's medical condition and, in accordance with Correctional health Services' policies, referred Plaintiff to Nurse Victoria Wray. (Defendant Maricopa County's Statement of Facts in Support of Its Motion for Summary Judgment ("MCSOF"), Doc. 56 ¶¶ 6-13). Nurse Wray examined Plaintiff, identified no signs of head injury or neurological trauma, and did not identify any life-threatening injury or other urgent need for medical attention at an outside medical facility. ( Id. ¶¶ 14-21).

On May 28, 2010, Plaintiff posted bail, was released from jail, and, two hours later, reported to the emergency department at St. Joseph's Hospital claiming he had been assaulted by the police the previous night. ( Id. ¶¶ 22-27). Doctors examined Plaintiff, found no significant injuries, prescribed Motrin, [3] and discharged Plaintiff less than five hours after Plaintiff arrived at the hospital. ( Id. ¶¶ 27-33; see PHXSOF ¶¶ 14-16). Plaintiff did not seek additional medical treatment until he presented with complaints of back and chest pain one year later. (MCSOF ¶ 33).

B. Procedural Background

On May 26, 2011, Plaintiff filed the instant Complaint in Arizona Superior. (Doc. 1). Plaintiff alleged various Arizona state tort claims and Federal civil rights violations under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against the Officers related to an allegation of excessive force and Nurse Wray related to an alleged refusal to provide medical treatment to Plaintiff. ( Id. ). Plaintiff further alleged that Maricopa County and Phoenix were liable for the unconstitutional and tortious actions of their employees under a theory of respondeat surperior and several civil rights theories. ( Id. ). Defendants removed Plaintiff's suit to Federal Court on October 13, 2011. ( Id. ).

On November 15, 2011, the Court dismissed Nurse Wray from this suit without prejudice as "Jane Doe" (Doc. 10; see Doc. 27 at 6). On November 22, 2011, the Court dismissed Officers Tedesco, Mills, and Neidenbach from this suit with prejudice per stipulation of the Parties. (Docs. 11-12). On January 9, 2012, the Court issued its Rule 16 Scheduling Order. (Doc. 19). On May 7, 2012, the Court denied Maricopa County's motion to dismiss on the grounds that the dismissal without prejudice of Nurse Wray (as "Jane Doe") was not an adjudication on the merits of Plaintiff's claim. (Doc. 27). Phoenix did not file a Motion to Dismiss, and discovery commenced, progressed, and concluded on January 31, 2013. ( See CM/ECF Docket; Doc. 19). On March 14, 2013, Maricopa County and Phoenix each moved for summary judgment (Docs. 55, 57) and, on March 29, 2013, Plaintiff Responded by requesting the Court give Plaintiff leave to amend the Complaint, add additional parties, and reopen discovery (Doc. 60); requests on which the Court now rules.


Plaintiff's Response (Doc. 60) includes "(1) a Motion to Amend the Complaint under Rule 15 and/or (2) To Add Back as Parties, under Rule 21, Maricopa County Jail Nurse VICTORIA WRAY, previously dismissed without prejudice as "Jane Doe" [(Doc. 27)], and Phoenix Police Officers TEDESCO, MILLS and NEIDENBACH, " previously dismissed with prejudice (Doc. 12). To justify his motions, Plaintiff scantly provides a single page that mentions Rule 15 but ignores Rule 21. (Doc. 60 at 2). Nonetheless, to the extent possible, the Court construes Plaintiff's Response as making separate motions to amend the Complaint under Rule 15 and add additional defendants under Rule 21.

A. Rule 15 Motion to Amend

1. Legal Standard

Generally, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a) governs a motion to amend pleadings to add claims or parties. However, in the present case, Rule 16 also applies because Plaintiff requested leave to amend his Complaint after the Rule 16 Scheduling Order deadline expired. Therefore, it is appropriate to discuss both Rule 15 and Rule 16.

Rule 15(a) provides in pertinent part:

A party may amend the party's pleading once as a matter of course at any time before a responsive pleading is served or, if the pleading is one to which no responsive pleading is permitted and the action has not been placed upon the trial calendar, the party may so amend it at any time within 20 days after it is served. Otherwise a party may amend the party's pleading only by leave of court or by written consent of the adverse party; and leave shall be freely given when justice so requires.

Although the decision whether to grant or deny a motion to amend is within the trial court's discretion, "Rule 15(a) declares that leave to amend shall be freely given when justice so requires'; this mandate is to be heeded." Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962). "In exercising its discretion with regard to the amendment of pleadings a court must be guided by the underlying purpose of Rule 15-to facilitate a decision on the merits rather than on the pleadings or technicalities.' [] Thus, Rule 15's policy of favoring amendments to pleadings should be applied with extreme liberality.'" Eldridge v. Block, 832 F.2d 1132, 1135 (9th Cir. 1987) (citations omitted). "Generally, this determination should be performed with all inferences in favor of granting the motion." Griggs v. Pace Am. Group, Inc., 170 F.3d 877, 880 (9th Cir. 1999) (citing DCD Programs v. Leighton, 833 F.2d 183, 186 (9th Cir. 1987)).

The liberal policy in favor of amendments, however, is subject to limitations. After the defendant files a responsive pleading, leave to amend is not appropriate if the "amendment would cause prejudice to the opposing party, is sought in bad faith, is futile, or creates undue delay." Madeja v. Olympic Packers, 310 F.3d 628, 636 (9th Cir. 2002) (quoting Yakima Indian Nation v. Wash. Dep't of Revenue, 176 F.3d 1241, 1246 (9th Cir. 1999)) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). "The party opposing amendment bears the burden of showing prejudice, " futility, or one of the other permissible reasons for denying a motion to amend. DCD Programs, 833 F.2d at 187; see also Richardson v. United States, 841 F.2d 993, 999 (9th Cir. 1988) (stating that leave to amend should be freely given unless opposing party makes "an affirmative showing of either prejudice or bad faith").

Prejudice can result where a defendant would be forced to participate in additional discovery. Zivkovic v. S. Cal. Edison Co., 302 F.3d 1080, 1087 (9th Cir. 2002). Extending discovery can also create undue delay. Solomon v. N. Am. Life & Cas. Ins. Co., 151 F.3d 1132, 1139 (9th Cir. 1998). Regarding futility, "[a] district court does not err in denying leave to amend where the amendment would be futile... or would be subject to dismissal." Saul v. United States, 928 F.2d 829, 843 (9th Cir. 1991) (citations omitted); see also Miller v. Rykoff-Sexton, Inc., 845 F.2d 209, 214 (9th Cir. 1988) ("A motion for leave to amend may be denied if it appears to be futile or legally insufficient." (citation omitted)). Similarly, a motion for leave to amend is futile if it can be defeated on a motion for summary judgment. Gabrielson v. Montgomery Ward & Co., 785 F.2d 762, 766 (9th Cir. 1986). "However, a proposed amendment is futile only if no set of facts can be proved under the amendment to the pleadings that would constitute a valid and sufficient claim or defense." Miller, 845 F.2d at 214.

Rule 16, on the other hand, applies to pretrial conferences and scheduling orders. This Rule provides, in pertinent part:

(b) [The district court] shall, after receiving the report from the parties under Rule 26(f) or after consulting with the attorneys for the parties and any unrepresented parties by a scheduling conference, telephone, mail, or other suitable means, enter a scheduling order that limits the time
(1) to join other parties and to amend pleadings....
A schedule shall not be modified except upon a showing of good cause and by leave of ...

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