United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
OPINION AND ORDER
Russ Walker United States Magistrate Judge.
case was initiated by plaintiff Antonio Hardy against
defendants Warden John Crow, Lt. J. Sewell, and Correctional
Officer Clark. It arises out of alleged violations of
plaintiff's constitutional rights while he was housed as
an inmate at the Staton Correctional Institute (Staton), a
prison located in Elmore County, Alabama, and maintained by
the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC). (Doc. 1).
Before the court are the following motions: defendants'
motion to stay discovery pending resolution of the
dispositive immunity issue (Doc. 28); defendants' motion
for judgment on the pleadings (Doc. 29), plaintiff's
motion for leave to amend complaint or, in the alternative,
to strike (Doc. 30); plaintiff's motion for leave to
amend complaint or, in the alternative, to strike (Doc. 31);
defendants' motion to clarify and oppose amended
complaint (Doc. 32); and defendants' unopposed motion to
extend deadline to file dispositive motions (Doc. 34). This
court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§
1331, 1343(a)(3), and 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Procedural and Factual Background
October 2016, plaintiff, who was housed in the D2 dorm at
Staton, was having conflicts with several inmates in the
dorm. (Doc. 1, ¶ 9). In the early morning hours of
November 2, 2016, plaintiff was assaulted by several inmates;
he was stabbed numerous times and suffered a collapsed lung.
Id. ¶ 11. Plaintiff alleges that defendants
Crow and Sewell were deliberately indifferent to the danger
posed to him by failing to protect him despite being apprised
of his fears of attack. Id. ¶ 14. He alleges
that defendant Clark was assigned to watch his dorm at the
time the assault occurred, but Clark was deliberately
indifferent to the known dangers of prison life when he
failed to perform his duties properly. Id.
¶¶ 12, 19.
filed his complaint against defendants on January 29, 2018.
(Doc. 1). Defendants answered on April 30, 2018, denying
plaintiff's allegations and raising the defense of
immunity, among other defenses. (Doc. 9). In May 2018 the
parties consented to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction.
See Docs. 17, 18. On June 22, 2018, the court
entered a uniform scheduling order. (Doc. 24). The scheduling
order provided for an August 28, 2018, deadline for the
amendment of pleadings. See Id. at 2, section 4. The
order included discovery and dispositive motion deadlines of
March 26 and April 25, 2019, respectively. Id. at 2,
sections 2, 7. Plaintiff served defendants with discovery
requests on June 22, 2018, to which defendants objected and
which they have not answered. See Doc. 28, ¶ 2.
to plaintiff, defense counsel indicated in early September
that she intended to file a motion to dismiss and request
that the court stay discovery pending resolution of the
immunity issue. (Doc. 30, ¶ 3). In early October, after
no motion had been filed by defendants, counsel for plaintiff
asked defendants to respond to the outstanding discovery, to
which defendants previously had only asserted objections. On
October 19, 2018, defendants moved to stay discovery. (Doc.
28). Contemporaneously with their motion to stay, defendants
filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings. (Doc. 29).
receiving defendants' motion, plaintiff's counsel
contacted defendants regarding amending the complaint in lieu
of filing a response to the motion. Defense counsel advised
plaintiff that a motion to amend would be opposed as
untimely. Plaintiff filed a motion to amend on November 12,
2018. (Doc. 30). Plaintiff filed a second motion to amend on
November 16, 2018. (Doc. 31). Defendants filed a response to
plaintiff's motion to amend and also moved to clarify
some of the facts that defendants claim are misstated in
plaintiff's motion. (Doc. 32).
have moved for an extension of the dipositive motion deadline
until the court has ruled on the pending motions. (Doc. 34).
Plaintiff does not oppose the motion.
district court should freely give leave to amend “when
justice so requires.” See Fed. R. Civ. P.
15(a)(2); Perez v. Wells Fargo N.A., 774 F.3d 1329,
1340 (11th Cir. 2014). “In 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 amendment, etc.-the leave sought
should, as the rules require, be freely given.”
Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962) (internal
citation omitted). The grant or denial of a request to amend
is discretionary. Id. A plaintiff “ought to be
afforded an opportunity to test his claim on the
argue that plaintiff's request to amend should be denied
as untimely. Further, defendants contend that plaintiff
should not be permitted to use the Federal Rules to inject a
belated proposed amendment in an effort to avoid
defendant's dispositive motion on the merits. The
deadline for amending pleadings under the scheduling order
was August 28, 2018. See Doc. 24. It is undisputed
that plaintiff missed this deadline. However, under Rule 16,
modification of scheduling order deadlines may be granted
upon a showing of good cause. See Fed. R. Civ. P.
16(b)(1); see also Sosa v. Airprint Sys., 133 F.3d
1417, 1418 n. 2 (1998) (“[W]hen a motion to amend is
filed after a scheduling order deadline, Rule 16 is the
proper guide for determining whether a party's delay may
argues that defendants objected to all discovery efforts by
plaintiff during the time allowed for amendment. Rather than
filing motions to compel, plaintiff sought to resolve the
matters directly with defendants, who indicated they intended
to file a motion to stay discovery. However, for whatever
reason, there was a period of delay by defendants in filing
the motion to stay. Defendants maintain that plaintiff was
using the system to gain an advantage by waiting to file the
motion to amend only after seeing the deficiencies in his
complaint identified by defendants' motion for judgment
on the pleadings. Plaintiff claims that defendants sought to
gain an unfair advantage by “stringing plaintiff
along” regarding the discovery. While this is a close
call, the court finds that plaintiff does not appear to have
delayed intentionally, but rather attempted to work with
counsel in an effort to resolve the discovery issues. Thus,
the court concludes plaintiff has shown good cause for the
court to allow an untimely amendment of his complaint.
court further observes that this is plaintiff's first
request for amendment, and resolution on the merits supports
allowing amendment. Given Rule 15's dictate that
amendments be “freely given, ” see Fed.