United States District Court, D. New Jersey
ANTHONY E. STEVENSON, Plaintiff,
THE COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE OF MONMOUTH COUNTY, et al. Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
HONORABLE TONIANNE J. BONGIOVANNI UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE
before the Court is Plaintiff Anthony Stevenson's
(“Plaintiff”) Motion to Amend the Complaint to
add individuals Sheriff SGT. Vincent Giglio and Sheriff
Officer Robert Fuller to particular claims already set forth
in the Complaint. (Docket Entry No. 71). The County
Sheriff's Office of Monmouth County, et al.
(“Defendants”) did not file opposition to
Plaintiff's motion. The Court has fully reviewed all
arguments made in support of Plaintiff's motion. The
Court considers Plaintiff's motion without oral argument
pursuant to L.Civ.R. 78.1(b). For the reasons set forth
below, Plaintiff's motion to Amend the Complaint is
GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.
Background and Procedural History
matter arises out of Plaintiff's claims against The
County Sherriff's Office, et al., based on his treatment
by prison officials. Plaintiff initially brought suit against
the following Defendants in this matter: The County
Sheriff's Office of Monmouth, Sheriff Shawn Golden,
Sergeant Vincent Giglio, Sheriff Officer Leonard Maxfield,
Sheriff Officer D. Herrmann, Sheriff Officer K. O'Neill,
Sheriff Officer Robert Fuller, The County Jail of Monmouth,
Warden Barry Nadrowski, Captain Shawn Althouse, Sergeant Jack
Hausman, Court Line Woman #1, Court Line Woman #2, Correct
Care Solutions Medical Providers, Medical Director Dr.
Hashman (later identified as Dr. Hashmi), Nurse Practioner
“C.J., ” Monmouth County E.M.T. Response Ser.,
E.M.T. Technician #1 and #2, later identified as Drew Lumbar
and Shawn Sprance, on October 7, 2013. In his Complaint,
Stevenson asserted several claims against Defendants,
including violations of his Fourth, Fifth, Eight and
Fourteenth Amendment rights. (See, generally, Compl;
Docket Entry No. 1). The District Court reviewed
Plaintiff's Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A to determine whether it should
be dismissed as frivolous or malicious, for failure to state
a claim upon which relief may be granted. (See
generally, Opinion of 2/6/2015; Docket Entry No. 11).
District Court concluded that Plaintiff's Complaint
should be allowed to proceed against the two Defendant
Sheriff Officers, Leonard Maxfield and D. Herrmann, as to the
claim asserting excessive use of force. All other claims and
Defendants were dismissed. (Id.). Specifically, as
related to the current amendment, the District Court
dismissed Stevenson's claim against Sheriff Officer
Giglio for violation of his Constitutional rights by denying
him medical care after Stevenson was injured.
September 11, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Leave to
Amend the Complaint, requesting the Court re-instate
Defendants Giglio and Fuller to parts of the Complaint.
(Docket Entry No. 56). Defendants filed a Motion for Summary
Judgment on the excessive force claims on February 24, 2017
(Docket Entry No. 42) which was administratively terminated
on March 28, 2017 pending Plaintiff's review of a certain
DVD produced by Defendants during discovery. (Docket Entry
No. 45). Once the Court confirmed that Plaintiff had the
opportunity to view the DVD, the Motion for Summary Judgment
was re-listed on July 6, 2017. (Docket Entry No. 52). The
District Court denied Defendant's Motion for Summary
Judgment on February 8, 2018. (Opinion of 2/8/18; Docket
Entry No. 57). By letter dated February 18, 2018, Plaintiff
sought to amend his Complaint. (Docket Entry No. 59). On
March 29, 2018, the Court terminated Plaintiff's Motion
to Amend and directed Plaintiff to re-file and to include
with the motion a proposed Amended Complaint. (Docket Entry
No. 62). After Plaintiff filed his renewed Motion to Amend,
he contacted the Court to notify that the Proposed Amended
Complaint was incomplete. (Docket Entry No. 66). On August
19, 2018, this Court gave Plaintiff one last opportunity to
file a Motion to Amend. (Docket Entry No. 68). Plaintiff has
endeavored to comply with the Courts instructions as to
correct procedure when filing a Motion to Amend, and
successfully did so on September 17, 2018, filing the current
motion. (Docket Entry No. 71).
previously noted, Plaintiff seeks to amend his Complaint to
add Officers Robert Fuller and Sheriff SGT. Vincent Giglio
who were dismissed from the case in 2015 for failure to state
a claim upon which relief could be granted. Plaintiff argues
that after discovery, new evidence has arisen that would cure
his pleading deficiency and show that these two officers did,
in fact, violate Plaintiff's Constitutional rights.
Specifically, Plaintiff represents that the following
evidence has been produced: (1) video footage that shows
Officer Fuller using excessive force, (2) an affidavit made
by the EMTs that shows Sheriff SGT. Vincent Giglio lied to
EMT Technicians causing them to not provide him with proper
medical treatment, (3) evidence that Defendants tampered with
42 seconds of pertinent video footage during the physical
altercation that took place on July 30, 2013. (Pl.'s MTA;
Docket Entry No. 71). Plaintiff also restates parts of his
Complaint that were dismissed in the District Court's
opinion. Plaintiff argues that his motion should be granted
under the liberal amendment standards set for in Fed.R.Civ.P.
Standard of Review
to Rule 15(a)(2), leave to amend the pleadings is generally
granted freely. See Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178,
182 (1962); Alvin v. Suzuki, 227 F.3d 107, 121 (3d
Cir. 2000). Nevertheless, the Court may deny a motion to
amend where there is “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, [or] futility of the amendment.”
Id. However, where there is an absence of undue
delay, bad faith, prejudice or futility, a motion for leave
to amend a pleading should be liberally granted. Long v.
Wilson, 393 F.3d 390, 400 (3d Cir. 2004). Here the Court
focuses on futility amendment.
amendment is futile if it “is frivolous or advances a
claim or defense that is legally insufficient on its
face.” Harrison Beverage Co. v. Dribeck Imp.,
Inc., 133 F.R.D. 463, 468 (D.N.J. 1990) (internal
quotation marks and citations omitted). To determine if an
amendment is “insufficient on its face, ” the
Court utilizes the motion to dismiss standard under Rule
12(b)(6) (see Alvin, 227 F.3d at 121) and considers
only the pleading, exhibits attached to the pleading, matters
of public record, and undisputedly authentic documents if the
party's claims are based upon same. See Pension
Benefit Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Indus., 998 F.2d
1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993).
determine if a complaint would survive a motion to dismiss
under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court must accept as true all the
facts alleged in the pleading, draw all reasonable inferences
in favor of the plaintiff, and determine if “under any
reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff may be
entitled to relief[.]” Phillips v. County of
Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 233 (3d Cir. 2008).
“[D]ismissal is appropriate only if, accepting all of
the facts alleged in the [pleading] as true, the p[arty] has
failed to plead ‘enough facts to state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face[.]'” Duran
v. Equifirst Corp., Civil Action No.
2:09-cv-03856, 2010 WL 918444, *2 (D.N.J. March 12, 2010)
(quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544,
570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)). Put simply, the
alleged facts must be sufficient to “allow the court
to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009). The
focus is not on “‘whether a plaintiff will
ultimately prevail but whether the claimant is entitled to
offer evidence to support the claims[.]'” Bell
Atl. Corp., 550 U.S. at 563 n.8 (quoting Scheuer v.
Rhoades, 416 U.S. 232, 236, 94 S.Ct. 1683, 40 L.Ed.2d 90
(1974)). Additionally, in assessing a motion to dismiss,
while the Court must view the factual allegations contained
in the pleading at issue as true, the Court is “not
compelled to accept unwarranted inferences, unsupported
conclusions or legal conclusions disguised as factual
allegations.” Baraka, 481 F.3d at 211.
Amended Complaint seeks to reinstate Sheriff SGT. Giglio and
Officer Fuller to some of the claims and reasserts claims
that were previously dismissed by the District Court. The
Court does not find that Plaintiff's motion is unduly
delayed, made in bad faith or will prejudice the Defendants.
The Court therefore focuses its analysis on futility of
amendment in light of ...