Handy v. Madison County et al
ORDER denying 38 Motion to Amend/Correct to include the Estate of Willie Handy, Jr., as a plaintiff; granting 45 Motion to Amend/Correct and; granting [ 46] Motion to Amend/Correct to include Quality Correctional Health Care, Inc., and Nurse Sheoashie Palmer as additional defendants. Plaintiff shall, on or before August 1, 2017, submit a proposed Third Amended Complaint that is consistent with this Opinion and Order for review by the Court. ORDER dismissing 55 Motion for Summary Judgment of Madison County and Sheriff Randy Tucker as moot based on Plaintiffs' have been granted leave to amend. Signed by District Judge William H. Barbour, Jr., on 07/25/2017.
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF MISSISSIPPI
LATASHA HANDY, ET AL.
CIVIL ACTION NO. 3:16-cv-370-WHB-JCG
MADISON COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI; ET AL.
OPINION AND ORDER
This cause is before the Court on several motions filed by the
parties in this wrongful death/negligence action. Having considered
the pleadings, the attachments thereto, as well as supporting and
opposing authorities, the Court enters the following Order.
Factual Background and Procedural History
On September 5, 2015, Willie Handy, Jr., died while detained
at the Madison County Detention Center (“MCDC”) following an asthma
Thereafter, Latasha Handy (“Handy”), on behalf of herself
and Willie Handy’s heirs and wrongful death beneficiaries, filed a
lawsuit against Madison County, Mississippi, and several MCDC
battered, applied mace, and choked Willie Handy., Jr., causing his
asthma to flare intensely resulting in his death.”
Compl. [Docket No. 25], ¶ 9.
Handy also alleges that Defendants
failed to (1) provide necessary medical attention to Willie Handy,
(2) adequately train personnel to promptly identify individuals who
are having asthma attacks, and (3) promptly respond to Willie
Handy’s requests for medical care.
Based on these allegations,
Handy seeks actual and punitive damages on claims under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 and state law claims sounding in negligence.
Handy has now moved to amend her complaint, and defendants
Madison County and its Sheriff, Randy Tucker, have moved for
summary judgment on the claims alleged in Handy’s Second Amended
Handy has moved for leave to amend her Complaint to include
Motions for Leave to Amend are generally
governed by Rule 15(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure,
which provides, in part: “the court should freely give leave when
justice so requires.” See e.g. Price v. Pinnacle Brands, Inc., 138
F.3d 602, 607–08 (5th Cir. 1998)(finding that Rule 15(a) “evinces
a bias in favor of granting leave to amend.”).
Here, however, a
Case Management Order was entered that established October 27,
2016, as the deadline for filing motions to amend pleadings.
Order [Docket No. 7].
As the subject Motions to Amend were filed
after the Court-ordered deadline, they are governed by Rule 16(b)
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
See S&W Enters., L.L.C.
v. SouthTrust Bank of Ala., NA, 315 F.3d 533, 535 (5th Cir.
2003)(holding that “Rule 16(b) governs amendment of pleadings after
a scheduling order deadline has expired.”). To obtain relief under
Rule 16(b), the moving party must show that there is good cause for
modifying the scheduling order. Id. When determining whether good
cause has been shown, the Court considers the following factors:
“(1) the explanation for the failure to [timely move for leave to
amend]; (2) the importance of the [amendment]; (3) potential
prejudice in allowing the [amendment]; and (4) the availability of
a continuance to cure such prejudice.” Id. at 536 (citations
Handy first seeks to amend her Complaint to include, as a
plaintiff, the Estate of Willie Handy, Jr.
Under Mississippi law:
In the event the litigants wish to pursue a claim on
behalf of the estate of the deceased, such estate must,
of course, be opened and administered through the
chancery court. As is true in all estates administered
through the chancery court, chancery approval is required
for the appointment of the personal representative of the
estate, whether executor, executrix, administrator or
Long v. McKinney, 897 So. 2d 160, 174 (Miss. 2004).
In cases in
which “the potential claimant has not been formally appointed
administrator or executor of the decedent’s estate at the time he
or she commences the wrongful-death action, it follows that the
person is without standing as a personal representative to bring
the suit. Clark Sand Co. v. Kelly, 60 So. 3d 149, 155–56 (Miss.
Here, there has been no showing that an estate pertaining to
Willie Handy, Jr., has been opened in the chancery court, and there
has been no showing that a chancery court has granted Latasha Handy
approval to represent such estate in the event it was opened.
Under these circumstances, the Court finds Handy has failed to show
that she has standing to pursue any claim on behalf of the Estate
of Willie Handy, Jr. Accordingly, her Motion to Amend Complaint to
add the Estate of Willie Handy as a plaintiff will be denied.
Next, Handy seeks to amend her complaint to include Quality
Correctional Health Care, Inc., (“QCHC”) and Sheoashie Palmer
(“Palmer”) as additional defendants to the case.
identified as the nurse who was working in the medical unit at the
time Willie Handy experienced his asthma attack, and who had
administered breathing and other medical treatments to Willie Handy
immediately prior and during the alleged asthma attack.
identified as the company for which Palmer worked.
Considering the factors set forth in S&W Enterprises, the
Court first finds Handy has not provided any explanation for the
untimeliness of her Motion to Amend to add either QCHC or Palmer as
The Docket shows that on October 7, 2016, Handy
received initial disclosures from Madison County and Sheriff Tucker
that included Willie Handy’s medical records from QCHC as well as
Palmer’s notes regarding her assessments of, and treatments given
to, Willie Handy immediately preceding his death.
Handy has not
provided any explanation as to the reason(s) she waited nearly six
months before providing either QCHC or Palmer notice as to the
negligence/wrongful death claims she seeks to allege against them,
or to request leave to add them as defendants in this case.
As to the second factor, it appears that the addition of QCHC
and/or Palmer are important to Handy’s claims that include that the
medical treatment provided to Willie Handy at the detention center
As QCHC and/or Palmer could be responsible for the
delay in treatment alleged by Handy, and as it is not clear from
the pleadings whether the already-named defendants could be held
liable for any actions taken by QHCH and/or Palmer, it appears the
inclusion of QCHC and/or Palmer as defendants could be important to
Third, it does not appear that the already-named
defendants would be prejudiced by the addition of QCHC and/or
Palmer as additional defendants in this case because, again, it is
not clear from the pleadings that the already-named defendants
could be held liable for the actions of QHCH and/or Palmer.
Finally, as it does not appear that the already-named defendants
would be prejudiced by the addition of QCHC and/or Palmer as
continuance would cure any resulting prejudice – does not appear
The Court notes, however, that a short continuance in
this case is already required to offset the discovery delay caused
by briefing/consideration of the issues of qualified immunity that
have now been considered by the Court.
Thus, having applied the factors set forth in S&W Enterprises
in light of the facts, allegations, and arguments in the pleadings,
the Court finds Handy’s Motion to Amend Complaint to add QCHC and
Palmer as defendants should be granted, despite her delay in
seeking leave to amend.
As Handy will be granted leave to amend
her Complaint, the Motion of Madison County and Sheriff Tucker for
Summary Judgment as to the claims alleged against them in the
Second Amended Complaint will be denied, without prejudice, as
For the foregoing reasons:
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the Motion of Plaintiff to Amend
plaintiff in this action [Docket No. 38] is hereby denied.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Motion and Amended Motion of
Plaintiff to Amend Complaint to include Quality Correctional Health
Care, Inc., and Nurse Sheoashie Palmer as additional defendants
[Docket No. 45 and 46] are hereby granted.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff shall, on or before
August 1, 2017, submit a proposed Third Amended Complaint that is
consistent with this Opinion and Order for review by the Court.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Motion of Defendants the City
of Madison and Sheriff Tucker for Summary Judgment as to the claims
alleged against them in the Second Amended Complaint [Docket No.
55] is hereby dismissed as moot base on Plaintiffs’ having been
granted leave to amend that Complaint.
SO ORDERED this the 25th day of July, 2017.
s/ William H. Barbour, Jr.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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