United States District Court, D. New Jersey
B. SIMANDLE U.S. District Judge.
matter comes before the Court by way of Plaintiff's
Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint. (See
Pl.'s Mot. [Docket Item 129].) Plaintiff's present
motion is opposed by Defendant Melanie Loatman, (see
Def. Loatman's Opp'n [Docket Item 132]), Defendant
Amber Garcia, RN, (see Def. Garcia's Opp'n
[Docket Item 133]), and Defendants Cumberland County, Warden
Robert Balicki, Corrections Officer Richard Serano,
Corrections Officer Michael Puglise, Corrections Officer D.
Ortiz, Corrections Officer Michael Fowlkes, Corrections
Officer Floyd, Corrections Officer Santos, and Corrections
Officer Badge No. 120 (hereinafter, collectively,
“County Defendants”). (See County
Defs.' Opp'n [Docket Item 137].) Plaintiff filed a
reply brief. (See Pl.'s Reply [Docket Item
138].) The Court has considered the parties' submissions
and decides the pending motion [Docket Item 129] pursuant to
Rule 78(b), Fed.R.Civ.P. For the reasons discussed below,
Plaintiff's motion to file an amended complaint will be
granted in part and denied in part. The Court finds as
Factual and Procedural Background.
factual and procedural background of this case was thoroughly
described in this Court's Opinion of March 13, 2018,
Estate of Allen v. Cumberland Cnty., No. 15-6273,
2018 WL 1293154 (D.N.J. Mar. 13, 2018), and shall not be
repeated herein, except as necessary for the determination of
the present motion.
the Court's prior Opinion and the accompanying Order, the
Court denied two of Plaintiff's prior motions to amend
the complaint and simultaneously “grant[ed] leave to
Plaintiff to file a new motion for leave to amend, with a
proposed Amended Complaint that addresses the deficiencies
noted” in the Court's prior Opinion. Id.
at *12. In particular, the Court directed Plaintiff to
correct certain deficiencies with Plaintiff's
constitutional claims against Defendant Loatman. See
id. at *10-14. Subsequently, Plaintiff timely filed the
Standard of Review.
15(a)(2) permits Plaintiff to amend “only with the
opposing party's written consent or the court's
leave.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). Although “[t]he
court should freely give leave when justice so requires,
” id., the decision to grant leave to amend a
complaint rests within the sound discretion of the trial
court. Massarsky v. General Motors Corp., 706 F.2d
111, 125 (3d Cir. 1983). The district court may deny leave to
amend only if (a) the moving party's delay in seeking
amendment is undue, motivated by bad faith, or prejudicial to
the non-moving party; or (b) the amendment would be futile,
meaning that the complaint, as amended, would fail to state a
claim upon which relief could be granted. Travelers
Indem. Co. v. Dammann & Co., 594 F.3d 238, 243
(3d Cir. 2010); Shane v. Fauver, 213 F.3d 113, 115
(3d Cir. 2000).
assessing “futility, ” the court applies the same
standard of legal sufficiency as applies under Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6). Shane, 213 F.3d at 115. In other words,
the amended complaint must be dismissed (or leave to amend
ought not be granted) if, accepting all well-pleaded
allegations in the complaint as true and viewing them in the
light most favorable to the plaintiff, a court concludes that
the plaintiff has failed to set forth sufficient facts to
state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007);
Fleisher Standard Ins. Co., 679 F.3d 116, 120 (3d
Cir. 2012). Although a court must accept as true all factual
allegations in a complaint, that tenet is “inapplicable
to legal conclusions, ” and “[a] pleading that
offers labels and conclusions or a formulaic recitation of
the elements of a cause of action will not do.”
Ashcroft Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
present motion seeks leave to file an amended complaint
pursuant to the Court's prior Opinion, which identified
certain deficiencies in Plaintiff's constitutional claims
against Defendant Loatman. See Estate of
Allen, 2018 WL 1293154, at *10-14. In that Opinion,
the Court stated that
[i]n the context of an Eighth Amendment claim regarding a
prisoner's medical needs, “a failure to provide
adequate care that was deliberate, and motivated by
non-medical factors is actionable . . ., but inadequate care
that was a result of an error in medical judgment is
not.” Parkell [ Danberg], 833 F.3d [313, ] 337
[(3d Cir. 2016)] (citing Durmer O'Carroll, 991
F.2d 64, 69 (3d Cir. 1993)) (internal quotations omitted).
A constitutional claim based on a prison or its
official's failure to prevent a detainee's suicide
can be analyzed within this rubric. “[A] vulnerability
to suicide claim . . . is simply a more specific articulation
of the Eighth Amendment rule that prison officials must not
be deliberately indifferent to a prisoner's serious
medical needs[.]” Mullin v. Balicki, 875 F.3d
140, 158 (3d Cir. 2017) (“Mullin II”).
However, “[w]e cannot infer from the prisoner's act
of suicide itself that the prison officials have recklessly
disregarded their obligation to take reasonable precautions
to protect the safety of prisoners entrusted to their
care.” Freedman v. City of Allentown, Pa., 853
F.2d 1111, 1115 (3d Cir. 1988).
Id. at *7.
Court went on to quote the Third Circuit's test, which