Mitchell v. Pena, et al.

Filing 69

ORDER denying 61 Motion to Amend the Complaint signed by Magistrate Judge Jennifer L. Thurston on 5/30/2014. (Lundstrom, T)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 JOHN EDWARD MITCHELL, Plaintiff, 12 ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO FILE AMENDED COMPLAINT v. 13 14 Case No. 1:11-cv-01205-LJO-JLT (PC) (Doc. 61) PINA, et al., Defendants. 15 16 Plaintiff, John Edward Mitchell, is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma 17 pauperis with a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff is proceeding on the 18 Second Amended Complaint (Doc. 14) for violation of his rights under the First Amendment and 19 the RLUIPA against Defendants Pena, Sumaya, and Indermill. (Docs. 15, 17.) 20 On March 13, 2014, Plaintiff filed a document requesting permission to amend the Second 21 Amended Complaint.1 (Doc. 61.) Plaintiff submitted a copy of his proposed amended complaint 22 which has been lodged ("lodged pleading"). (Doc. 62.) Defendants have not filed an opposition. 23 The motion is deemed submitted. L.R. 230(l). In his motion, Plaintiff indicates that he has recently discovered that Defendant John Doe 24 25 is actually Imam Aqeel El-Amin. (Doc. 61, p. 2.) Plaintiff seeks to file an amended complaint 26 making allegations against Imam Aqeel El-Amin as a defendant in this action. 27 1 28 Plaintiff requests leave to file a second amended complaint, however, the operative pleading is the Second Amended Complaint. Thus, if leave to amend were granted, which it is not, any further amended pleading would be a third amended complaint. 1 1 Rule2 15(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a party who has 2 already amended its pleading once, "may amend its pleading only with the opposing party's 3 written consent or the court's leave." "Rule 15(a) is very liberal and leave to amend ‘shall be 4 freely given when justice so requires.'" AmerisourceBergen Corp. v. Dialysis West, Inc., 465 5 F.3d 946, 951 (9th Cir. 2006) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)). However, courts “need not grant 6 leave to amend where the amendment: (1) prejudices the opposing party; (2) is sought in bad 7 faith; (3) produces an undue delay in the litigation; or (4) is futile.” Id. 8 9 Further, while the Court is mindful of the liberality of Rule 15(a) and the leniency accorded pro se litigants, the Court may properly deny leave to amend both if the proposed 10 amendments are futile, e.g., Woods v. City of San Diego, 678 F.3d 1075, 1082 (9th Cir. 2012); 11 Silva v. Di Vittorio, 658 F.3d 1090, 1105-06 (9th Cir. 2011); Carrico v. City and County of San 12 Francisco, 656 F.3d 1002, 1008 (9th Cir. 2011), and where the party seeking amendment knew or 13 should have known of the facts upon which the proposed amendment is based but failed to 14 include them in the original complaint, E.E.O.C. v. Boeing, Co., 843 F.2d 1213, 1222 (9th Cir. 15 1988) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). Finally, the “court’s discretion to deny 16 leave to amend is particularly broad where the court has already given the plaintiff an opportunity 17 to amend his complaint.” Fidelity Financial Corp. v. Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco, 18 792 F.2d 1432, 1438 (9th Cir. 1986). 19 This case is proceeding on Plaintiff's cognizable claims in the Second Amended 20 Complaint. On October 29, 2012, an order issued finding Plaintiff's allegations against 21 Defendants John Doe, Lopez, and Morrison not cognizable and ordering their dismissal from the 22 action. (Doc. 15, at 7:22-27.) Plaintiff neither objected to, nor sought reconsideration of this 23 order. Now, a year and a half later, Plaintiff seeks to file an amended complaint, substituting 24 Imam Aqeel El-Amin in place and instead of John Doe and modifying his allegations based on a 25 form that El-Amin signed which was just recently produced in discovery. (Docs. 61, 62.) 26 Despite having previously had multiple opportunities to amend, Plaintiff has not stated a 27 28 2 All references are to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure unless otherwise indicated. 2 1 cognizable claim against Defendant John Doe to justify allowing amendment to substitute a true 2 name based on a single document reflecting the name "Imam Aqeel El-Amin." Had this been the 3 case, Plaintiff would have been allowed to proceed against Defendant Doe and given leave to 4 substitute the true name once discovered. 5 Further, Plaintiff's lodged pleading does not now state a cognizable claim against "Imam 6 Aqeel El-Amin." Rather, the lodged pleading appears to contain little more than a rephrasing of 7 Plaintiff's non-cognizable claims against Defendant Doe with "Imam Aqeel El-Amin" substituted 8 in place of "John Doe." (Doc. 62.) At its most basic, Plaintiff claims only that he now knows 9 that El-Amin was the Imam in 2010 whom he previously identified as "John Doe." 10 However, this conflicts with Plaintiff's past allegations which have all indicated that, as 11 far as he knew, there was no Imam for Muslim inmates for Ramadan of 2010. Thus, he directed 12 his religious dietary requests to prison staff and other spiritual leaders. If prison processes 13 operated normally, El-Amin, as the Imam, would have both been notified of and responsible for 14 responding and taking action on Plaintiff's requests to be on the list of inmates fasting for 15 Ramadan 2010. Yet, Plaintiff's past allegations have consistently asserted that the normal 16 procedures were not utilized for his requests for religious meals and Plaintiff provides no basis to 17 show that his prior allegations were inaccurate. Further, Plaintiff does not show that El-Amin 18 was aware of Plaintiff's requests for a religious diet and/or was involved in the circumstances that 19 kept Plaintiff from being on the list of fasting participants. If any of Plaintiff's requests had been 20 known to El-Amin, Plaintiff may have been able to state a cognizable claim against him, but 21 changes to his allegations that he directed his requests to El-Amin or that he asked his requests to 22 be directed to El-Amin are clearly not true. 23 Finally, Plaintiff's current allegation that he told Bola that he needed to be on the list that 24 "Imam Aqeel El-Amin" maintained, is obviously untrue. Plaintiff could not have used this name 25 or referred to the Imam in 2009 or 2010 because he did not learn the name or even that there was 26 an Imam until receipt of documents produced in discovery earlier this year. Instead, Bola verified 27 from Morrison only that Morrison said he made sure Plaintiff was on the list kept by the kitchen 28 staff. 3 1 Accordingly, it is HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiff's motion to amend the operative 2 complaint, filed March 13, 2014 (Doc. 61), is DENIED and Plaintiff's lodged pleading (Doc. 62) 3 is STRICKEN from the record. 4 5 6 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: May 30, 2014 /s/ Jennifer L. Thurston UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 4

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