Dunn et al v. Thomas et al

Filing 610

PHASE 2 OPINION AND ORDER ON MOTION TO AMEND COMPLAINT: it is ORDERED as follows: (1) The motion for leave to amend plaintiffs' complaint (doc. no. 549 ) filed by plaintiff Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program (ADAP) is granted. (2) If defenda nts conclude that additional discovery--limited to the question whether ADAP is entitled to assert associational standing--is necessary, they are to file a request that discovery be reopened, specifying what discovery they seek, within five days of the date this order is issued. Signed by Honorable Judge Myron H. Thompson on 8/5/2016. (kh, )

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IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA, NORTHERN DIVISION JOSHUA DUNN, et al., Plaintiffs, v. JEFFERSON S. DUNN, in his official capacity as Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Corrections, et al., Defendants. ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) CIVIL ACTION NO. 2:14cv601-MHT (WO) PHASE 2 OPINION AND ORDER ON MOTION TO AMEND COMPLAINT The plaintiffs in this putative class-action lawsuit are dozens of state prisoners and the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program (ADAP). are the Alabama Department of The defendants Corrections, its Commissioner, and its Associate Commissioner of Health Services. In Phase 2 of this case, with which this opinion is concerned, plaintiffs assert the following claims: constitutionally inadequate medical and mental-health treatment in Alabama prison facilities, involuntary medication without due process, and discrimination against disabilities. prisoners with mental They rely with respect to these claims on the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments (as enforced through 42 U.S.C. § 1983), the Americans with Disabilities Act (42 U.S.C. §§ 12131-12134), and § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. § 794). Jurisdiction is proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 (federal question) and § 1343 (civil rights). This case is currently before the court on ADAP’s motion for leave associational to amend standing. the This complaint to amendment assert will be permitted for the reasons discussed below. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a) provides that after a party has amended its pleading once as a matter of course, consent of subsequent the amendments opposing parties require or leave either of the court. Here, plaintiffs’ complaint has already been amended, and defendants oppose the motion for leave to amend it further. Leave of court is therefore required. 2 Rule 15(a) states that leave to amend “shall be freely given when justice so requires.” However, “the liberal amendment policy prescribed by Rule 15 does not mean that leave will be granted in all cases. Indeed, in determining whether ‘justice [] requires’ that leave to amend be granted, district courts may consider such factors [] as ‘undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on the part of the movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies undue prejudice by to amendments the opposing previously party by allowed, virtue of allowance of the amendment, futility of the amendment, etc.’” Jeter v. Montgomery Cty., 480 F. Supp. 2d 1293, 1297 (M.D. Ala. 2007) (Thompson, J.) (quoting Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962), and citing Andrx Pharms., Inc. v. Elan Corp., 421 F.3d 1227, 1236 (11th Cir. 2005)). Defendants identify two grounds for denying ADAP leave to amend: (1) ADAP’s delay in seeking to amend, and (2) their related contention that “[a]llowing the amendment after the fact discovery deadline has passed 3 places the State at a disadvantage.” no. 583) at 2. Defs.’ Obj. (doc. However, defendants have not shown that they will suffer significant (indeed, any) prejudice on either account. Although this litigation was commenced two years ago, and the complaint has thrice been amended, the timing of ADAP’s motion seeking amendment is not unreasonable. leave for a fourth The motion was filed prior to the deadline this court set for amendments to pleadings; defendants were therefore on notice that a further amendment might still occur. In addition, the motion was filed over a month prior to the deadline for dispositive and class-certification motions, and more than three months prior to the trial of the phase of this case that remains in active litigation. * * The first phase of this case has preliminarily been settled; assuming the settlement is finally approved, this amendment to the complaint will have no effect with respect to the claims resolved in that settlement. Were the court to reject the settlement and reinstate the litigation of the first phase, defendants would of course be afforded an opportunity to contest ADAP’s associational standing with respect to the revived claims. 4 Additionally, the amendment represents merely a clarification of the legal basis for ADAP’s standing, and involves no substantive change to the allegations in the complaint. Defendants have long been on notice that ADAP intended to assert third-party standing; this amendment clarifies only that in addition to “organizational standing,” based on the contention that “the ADOC policies and practices challenged ... serve to frustrate and perceptibly impair ADAP’s advocacy efforts and its ability to accomplish the statutory purposes for which it was created,” Second Am. Compl. (doc. no. 89-1) at 25 (citing Havens Realty Corp. v. Coleman, 455 U.S. 363, 379 (1982)) (filed on Feb. 2, 2015), ADAP also asserts “associational standing ... on behalf of its constituents who include any current or future prisoner in the physical custody of ADOC who has a disability [including mental illness],” Fourth Am. Compl. (doc. no. 549-1) at 24 (citing Doe v. Stincer, 175 F.3d 879, 886 (11th Cir. 1999)); see also id. at 131-32 (describing ADAP’s statutory 5 authority, and stating that conducted ADAP an Defendant “maintains advisory administrative ADOC’s practices councils, investigation with respect to has into ADAP’s constituents, and has received communications from its constituents incarcerated in Defendant ADOC’s facilities regarding Defendant ADOC’s practices”). The only potential prejudice resulting from the timing of ADAP’s motion that defendants identified in their opposition brief was the inability to conduct discovery “on the issues for which ADAP amend.” Defs.’ Obj. (doc. no. 583) at 2. amended complaint asserting expressly associational “coextensive[]” members. with states standing those of to the seeks to However, the that ADAP is pursue claims putative class Fourth Am. Compl. (doc. no. 549-1) at 131. There is, therefore, no need for additional discovery on the substantive claims raised by ADAP as a plaintiff. To the extent that defendants wish to challenge whether ADAP functions like the protection and advocacy 6 organization that the Eleventh Circuit held had associational standing in Doe v. Stincer, 175 F.3d 879 (11th Cir. 1999), the parties agreed during a telephone conference held on the record on August 2, 2016, that minimal if any additional discovery would be needed to do so. Defendants have corporate representative already deposed regarding its ADAP’s organizational structure and processes, and ADAP agreed during this telephone conference that it could additional discovery very rapidly. will reopen allowing discovery defendants production--if, in it--defendants will for to the they suffer no any Because the court limited obtain fact, produce this decide prejudice purpose of additional to request from the amendment. Moreover, allowing this amendment will have significant value to the court and to the parties in adjudicating this case. explained, ADAP is As the court has previously authorized under federal law to “‘protect and advocate the rights of [] individuals 7 [with mental illness and other disabilities] through activities to ensure the enforcement Constitution and Federal and State statutes.’” of the Dunn v. Dunn, -- F. Supp. 3d --, 2016 WL 324990, at *12 (M.D. Ala. Jan. 27, 2016) (Thompson, J.) (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 10801(b)(2)). ADAP’s participation is therefore important to the fair and efficient adjudication of a case of this scope and complexity, allegedly involving many of the mentally ill Alabamians ADAP serves. and otherwise disabled This amendment will ensure that the basis for ADAP’s standing as a plaintiff is asserted (and--to the extent defendants challenge it-contested) squarely. In light of the absence of any significant reason not to grant ADAP leave to amend, and the benefits of allowing the amendment, the court concludes justice requires that leave be granted. * * * Accordingly, it is ORDERED as follows: 8 that (1) The motion complaint for (doc. leave no. to 549) amend filed plaintiffs’ by plaintiff Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program (ADAP) is granted. (2) If defendants conclude that additional discovery--limited to the question whether ADAP is entitled standing--is to assert necessary, they associational are to file a request that discovery be reopened, specifying what discovery they seek, within five days of the date this order is issued. The clerk of the court is DIRECTED to docket plaintiffs’ fourth amended complaint (doc. no. 549-1). DONE, this the 5th day of August, 2016. /s/ Myron H. Thompson UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

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