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Miley v. Doe

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

October 5, 2018

CHRISTOPHER MILEY
v.
DEPUTY DOE AND JASON ARD, SHERIFF OF LIVINGSTON PARISH

          MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          RICHARD L. BOURGEOIS, JR. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion to File Amended Complaint (R. Doc. 20) filed on June 11, 2018. The motion is opposed. (R. Doc. 21).

         Also before the Court is Plaintiff's Request for Leave of Court to File First Amended Civil Rights Complaint (R. Doc. 23) filed on July 6, 2018. The motion is opposed. (R. Doc. 24). Plaintiff has filed a Reply. (R. Doc. 24).

         I. Background

         Christopher Miley (“Plaintiff”) initiated this civil rights action in state court, naming as the sole defendants “Deputy Doe” and Jason Ard, in his official capacity as Sheriff of Livingston Parish. (R. Doc. 1-2 at 4-6, “Petition”). Plaintiff alleges that he was arrested by Deputy Doe for simple battery on August 10, 2016, repeatedly told Deputy Doe that “the wrong guy” had been arrested, and was sent to jail for three days. (Petition ¶¶ 3-5). Plaintiff alleges that he was then released on bond and, prior to his arraignment, filed motions indicating that he was “not the right Christopher Miller.” (Petition ¶ 6). Plaintiff alleges that he “was falsely arrested and imprisoned by the Defendants because the Defendants failed to properly investigate this matter” and they were reckless in the investigation of this crime, leading to wrongly accusing an innocent man of a crime when they knew or should have known that Plaintiff was not the suspect.” (Petition ¶¶ 8- 9). Plaintiff further alleges that on the first day of trial the States' eyewitness, upon seeing Plaintiff, stated that the State had “the wrong man, ” and, as a result, the state prosecutor dismissed all charges against Plaintiff on March 14, 2017. (Petition ¶ 12). The instant action was filed on or about March 5, 2018. (R. Doc. 1-2).

         Based on the foregoing, Plaintiff alleges that the “Defendant's actions amount to willful indifference to the Plaintiff's federally protected rights to be free from unreasonable seizures of his person under [42 U.S.C. § 1983].” (Petition ¶ 13). Plaintiff asserts that the foregoing “acts also amount to violation of federal and state law for false arrest and false imprisonment. (Petition ¶ 14). Plaintiff seeks to recover various damages, including general damages for “deprivation of his Fourth Amendment rights” and “Damage to his reputation, including causing worldwide publication of his arrest for battery.” (Petition ¶ 15).

         On March 29, 2018, Sheriff Ard removed the action on the basis that the Court has federal question jurisdiction over Plaintiff's federal claims asserted under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (R. Doc. 1).

         On April 23, 2018, Sheriff Ard filed a motion to dismiss, asserting that Plaintiff's claims for false arrest and false imprisonment have prescribed. (R. Doc. 5). In opposition to the motion to dismiss, Plaintiff sought leave to amend the pleadings to allege a due process claim under the Fourteenth Amendment, a malicious prosecution claim, and to identify Deputy Doe. (R. Doc. 9).

         On May 30, 2018, the undersigned held a telephone status conference and stayed discovery in light of the pending motion to dismiss. (R. Doc. 14).

         On June 11, 2018, the district judge held a telephone status in which Plaintiff conceded that his false imprisonment and false arrest claims had prescribed, and the district judge ordered Plaintiff to file a motion for leave to file an amended complaint as requested in his opposition to the motion to dismiss. (R. Doc. 19). That same day, Plaintiff filed his “Motion to File Amended Complaint” in which he represented that the district judge granted leave to file an amended complaint. (R. Doc. 20). In opposition, Sheriff Ard argued that the district judge did not grant leave to amend, and instead ordered Plaintiff to file a motion seeking leave to amend. (R. Doc. 21 at 1). Sheriff Ard also opposed the motion on the basis that Plaintiff's original claims are prescribed, the new claims cannot related back to those prescribed claims, and the new claims are otherwise futile for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. (R. Doc. 21).

         On July 6, 2018, the district judge referred the foregoing motion to the undersigned, specifically noting that the Court “did not grant Plaintiff leave to amend his complaint in the June 11, 2018 status conference” and rather “allowed Plaintiff to file a motion asking for leave to amend the complaint, which could be taken up and decided after briefing.” (R. Doc. 22). That same day, Plaintiff filed his Request for Leave of Court to File First Amended Civil Rights Complaint, which did not add any substantive arguments in support of amendment. (R. Doc. 23). In opposition, Sheriff Ard referred back to the arguments raised in opposition to Plaintiff's Motion to File Amended Complaint. (R. Doc. 24). Plaintiff then filed a Reply in which he argues, for the first time, that his original petition also contained causes of action for malicious prosecution and defamation. (R. Doc. 27 at 1). Among other things, Plaintiff argues that the claims asserted in his proposed amended complaint relate back to his “defamation” claim under Rule 15(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and that he should otherwise be granted leave to identify Deputy Doe. (R. Doc. 27 at 2-5).

         II. Law and Analysis

         A. Legal Standards

         Under Rule 15(a)(2), after the period for amending as a matter of course elapses, “a party may amend its pleading only with the opposing party's written consent or the court's leave” and a “court should freely give leave when justice so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). The rule “evinces a bias in favor of granting leave to amend.” Martin's Herend Imports, Inc. v. Diamond & Gem Trading U.S.A. Co., 195 F.3d 765, 770 (5th Cir. 1999) (quoting Dussouy v. Gulf Coast Inv. Corp., 660 F.2d 594, 597 (5th Cir. 1981)). Although leave to amend should not be automatically granted, “[a] district court must possess a substantial reason to deny a request for leave to amend[.]” Jones v. Robinson Prop. Grp., L.P., 427 F.3d 987, 994 (5th Cir. 2005) (quotations omitted). The Court may consider several factors when determining whether to grant leave to amend, including “undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on the part of the movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments ...


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