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Wilson v. Arpaio

United States District Court, D. Arizona

June 15, 2016

Demetrius Antwan Wilson, Plaintiff,
v.
Joseph M Arpaio, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          James A. Teilborg, Senior United States District Judge.

         Pending before the Court are the February 5, 2016, Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) issued by Magistrate Judge Deborah M. Fine, [1] (Doc. 150), three Motion(s) for Leave to File an Amended Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(2) and Local Rule of Civil Procedure 15.1(a), [2] (Docs. 175, 180, 183), and one miscellaneous motion seeking relief. (Doc. 182). The Court now addresses the R&R, and rules on the pending motions.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff Demetrius A. Wilson filed a prisoner civil rights Complaint and motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis on July 14, 2014. (Docs. 1, 2). Plaintiff subsequently moved for leave to file an amended Complaint on November 20, 2014. (Doc. 5). The Magistrate Judge granted Plaintiff leave, (Doc. 8), and on March 2, 2015, Plaintiff moved for leave to amend a second time. (Doc. 23). The Magistrate Judge issued an R&R recommending that Plaintiff be granted leave.

         On June 30, 2015, this Court accepted the R&R’s recommendation and granted Plaintiff leave to file a Second Amended Complaint (“SAC”). (Doc. 64). The Court’s June 30 Order also adjudicated the following issues: it dismissed with prejudice Counts One, Three, Five, Eight, Ten, Eleven, Thirteen, Fifteen, and Seventeen from the SAC; it dismissed with prejudice Defendant Maricopa County Correctional Health Services; it dismissed with prejudice the claims for damages against Defendants “John Doe 2, ” “John Doe 4, ” “John Doe 5, ” B. Piirinen and Scott Frye; it dismissed Count Four without prejudice; and it ordered that Plaintiff be allowed to participate in discovery to determine the identities of Defendants “[M]edical [N]urse [M]ary, ” “Officer A8845, ” John Doe 1, John Doe 2, John Doe 4, John Doe 5, John Doe 7, John Doe 8, John Doe 9, John Doe 10, John Doe 12, John Doe 13, John Doe 15, John Doe 16, John Doe 17. (Id. at 21-22).

         Subsequent to this Order, on July 21, 2015, the Magistrate Judge addressed four separate motions for leave to amend to identify certain unknown Defendants, and granted Plaintiff’s motions only to the extent that he could file an amended Complaint that substituted certain names for “John/Jane Doe[s].” (Doc. 76 at 4-5). The Magistrate Judge denied Plaintiff’s motions “to the extent Plaintiff seeks to add causes of action pursuant to the motions without complying with LRCiv 15.1, ” and gave Plaintiff until August 21, 2015, to file an amended Complaint. (Id. at 3, 5). Plaintiff failed to comply with the July 21 Order, and on November 24, 2015, the Magistrate Judge gave “Plaintiff a final opportunity to amend his . . . Complaint . . . to substitute the names of the defendants as set forth above, including any new defendants Plaintiff has identified, and to include all of Plaintiff’s claims” by December 7, 2015. (Doc. 142 at 3).

         On December 4, 2015, Plaintiff complied, and filed the proposed Third Amended Complaint (“TAC”). (Doc. 143). Subsequent to filing the proposed TAC, and after the December 7, 2015, deadline imposed by the Magistrate Judge, Plaintiff filed two additional motions for leave to file an amended Complaint. (Docs. 146, 147). On February 5, 2016, the Magistrate Judge issued the pending R&R addressing the three aforementioned motions, (Doc. 150), to which Plaintiff objected, arguing generally that as a pro se Plaintiff alleging claims pursuant to Title 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (2012), he is entitled to amend his Complaint. (Doc. 156).

         On May 6, 2016, Plaintiff filed an additional motion for leave to amend. Plaintiff sought to amend the TAC-the subject of the Magistrate Judge’s R&R-by adding Counts Fifteen, Sixteen, Seventeen, and Eighteen, as well as adding up to ten additional defendants to the Complaint. (Doc. 176 at 1-3, 21-31). On June 3, 2016, Plaintiff filed another motion for leave to amend, which was comprised of documentary evidence to corroborate Count Eighteen, contained in the May 6 filing. (Doc. 180). And on June 14, Plaintiff filed his most recent motion for leave to amend, seeking to supplement Count Two of the proposed TAC. (Doc. 183).

         Having set forth the pertinent factual and procedural background, the Court turns to the Magistrate Judge’s R&R and Plaintiff’s pending motions.

         II. Standard of Review

         This Court “may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). It is “clear that the district judge must review the magistrate judge’s findings and recommendations de novo if objection is made, but not otherwise.” United States v. Reyna-Tapia, 328 F.3d 1114, 1121 (9th Cir. 2003) (en banc); accord Schmidt v. Johnstone, 263 F.Supp.2d 1219, 1226 (D. Ariz. 2003) (“Following Reyna-Tapia, this Court concludes that de novo review of factual and legal issues is required if objections are made, ‘but not otherwise.’”); Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands Ctr. v. U.S. Bureau of Land Mgmt., 589 F.3d 1027, 1032 (9th Cir. 2009) (the district court “must review de novo the portions of the [magistrate judge’s] recommendations to which the parties object.”). District courts are not required to conduct “any review at all . . . of any issue that is not the subject of an objection.” Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 149 (1985) (emphasis added); see also 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) (“A judge of the court shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the [R&R] to which objection is made.”).

         III. Motion for Leave to File a Third Amended Complaint

         Plaintiff has already amended his Complaint once as a matter of course, (Doc. 9), and was given leave by the Court to file a SAC pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a). (Doc. 64). Plaintiff now seeks leave from the Court to file the proposed TAC.

         The Court should freely give leave to amend “when justice so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a). “In exercising its discretion[, ] . . . ‘a court must be guided by the underlying purpose of Rule 15-to facilitate decision on the merits rather than on the pleadings or technicalities.’” Eldridge v. Block, 832 F.2d 1132, 1135 (9th Cir. 1987) (citation omitted). “Thus, ‘Rule 15’s policy of favoring amendments to pleadings should be applied with extreme liberality.’” Id. (citations omitted); accord Morongo Band of Mission Indians v. Rose, 893 F.2d 1074, 1079 (9th Cir. 1990) (stating that leave to amend is generally allowed with “extraordinary liberality”). “This liberality . . . is not dependent on whether the amendment will add causes of action or parties.” DCD Programs, LTD. v. Leighton, 833 F.2d 183, 186 (9th Cir. 1987). “[T]he ‘rule favoring liberality in amendments to pleadings is particularly important for the pro se litigant. Presumably unskilled in the law, the pro se litigant is far more prone to making errors in pleading than the person who benefits from the representation of counsel.’” Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1131 (9th Cir. 2000) (quoting Noll v. Carlson, 809 F.2d 1446, 1448 (9th Cir. 1987)). This leniency is amplified in civil rights cases. Eldridge v. Block, 832 F.2d 1132, 1136 (9th Cir. 1987).

         The R&R recommends that Plaintiff be granted leave to file the proposed TAC. (Doc. 150 at 12). Defendants did not object to this recommendation. Thus, the Court need not review de novo this portion of the R&R. Reyna-Tapie, 328 F.3d at 1121; Schmidt, 263 F.Supp.2d at 1226. Plaintiff is granted leave to file an amended Complaint.

         IV. Statutory Screening of Prisoner Complaints

         The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against “a governmental entity or an officer or an employee of a governmental entity.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if a plaintiff has raised claims that are legally frivolous or malicious, that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1)-(2). Section 1915A incorporates the 12(b)(6) standards to determine whether a claimant has failed to state a claim. Wilhelm v. Rotman, 680 F.3d 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2012).

         Plaintiff’s motion for leave to amend, (Doc. 143), includes a proposed TAC that is comprised of fourteen claims against Defendants. Counts One through Eleven are identical to those included in Plaintiff’s SAC, previously screened by the Magistrate Judge and this Court. (Doc. 64). Plaintiff’s TAC adds new claims in Count Twelve, Thirteen, and Fourteen, and also incorporates the identity of some previously unknown Defendants.

         A. Plaintiff’s Objection to the Magistrate Judge’s R&R (Doc. 156)

         As set forth supra, the Court need only conduct a de novo review of those portions of the R&R to which Plaintiff objects. Reyna-Tapie, 328 F.3d at 1121; Schmidt, 263 F.Supp.2d at 1226. Having reviewed Plaintiff’s objection liberally, as the Court must, Franklin v. Murphy, 745 F.2d 1221, 1235 (9th Cir. 1984), the Court finds that Plaintiff objects to one aspect of the R&R’s screening of claims contained in Plaintiff’s proposed TAC. Plaintiff objects to the Magistrate Judge’s recommendation that Count Two be dismissed without prejudice on the grounds that the TAC failed to cure the deficiency present in the SAC. (Doc. 150 at 5-6). Plaintiff’s objection specifically contests the recommendation for this particular Count, and argues why the Magistrate Judge is incorrect.[3] (Doc. 156 at 1). Nothing else in Plaintiff’s objection can reasonably be construed as an objection to the recommendation that Count Twelve be dismissed without prejudice, or that Plaintiff’s claims for damages against certain grievance officers be dismissed with prejudice.[4] Accordingly, the only aspect of the Magistrate Judge’s screening of the TAC that is subject to de novo review is the recommendation that Count Two be dismissed without prejudice.

         B. Counts One, Counts Three Through Eleven of the Proposed TAC

         Neither party objected to the Magistrate Judge’s recommendation with respect to these ten counts. Accordingly, the Court hereby adopts the Magistrate Judge’s recommendation, set forth here:

Count One of Plaintiff’s TAC (designated as Count Two in Plaintiff’s SAC) states a valid claim against Provider Balaji (previously named John Doe 1 Provider). (See Doc. 64 at 12)
. . .
Count Three of Plaintiff’s TAC (designated as the first incident in Count Six in Plaintiff’s SAC) states a valid claim against Officer Rita Showalter A8845 (previously named Officer A8845) and Medical Nurse Mary. (See id. at 12-13.)
Count Four of Plaintiff’s TAC (designated as the second incident in Count Six of Plaintiff’s SAC) states a valid claim against Jane Doe 7 Medical Staff (previously named John Doe 7 Medical Staff). (See id. at 13.)
Count Five of Plaintiff’s TAC (designated as Count Seven in Plaintiff’s SAC) states a valid claim against 1st Shift Medical Samantha Perez (previously named 1st Shift Medical Staff Samantha) and John Doe 8 Staff. (See id. at 14.)
Count Six of Plaintiff’s TAC (designated as Count Nine in Plaintiff’s SAC) states a valid claim against Graveyard Shift R.N. Lois Quaid (previously named Graveyard Shift R.N. Lois) and John Doe Officer 9. (See id.)
Count Seven of Plaintiff’s TAC (designated as Count Twelve in Plaintiff’s SAC) states a valid claim against Jane Doe 10 Medical Staff (previously named John Doe 10 Medical Staff), John Doe 11 Officer, and John Doe 12 Medical Staff. (See id. at 15.)
Count Eight of Plaintiff’s TAC (designated as Count Fourteen in Plaintiff’s SAC) states a valid claim against John/Jane Doe 13 Medical Staff (previously named John Doe 13 Medical Staff) and P.A. Matthew Barker (previously named John Doe 1 Provider). (See id.)
Count Nine of Plaintiff’s TAC (previously Count Sixteen of Plaintiff’s SAC) states a valid claim against Jane Doe 15 Medical (previously named John Doe 15 Medical) and Medical Deborah Jean Davis (previously named John Doe 16 Medical). (See id. at 16.)
Count Ten of Plaintiff’s TAC (previously the first incident in Count Eighteen of Plaintiff’s SAC) states a valid claim against Medical Tatjana Stojikovic CS993 (previously named John Doe 17 Medical). (See id.)
Count Eleven of Plaintiff’s TAC (previously the second incident in Count Eighteen of Plaintiff’s SAC) states a valid claim against Officer Graciela Perez A9647 (previously ...

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