JONES v. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
OPINION. Signed by Judge Noel L. Hillman on 7/27/2015. (TH, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
CHARLES E. SAMUELS, JR., et al.,
Civ. No. 14-139 (NLH)
Donald Jones, #54517-066
P.O. Box 2000
White Deer, PA 17887
Plaintiff, pro se
HILLMAN, District Judge
This matter is before the Court upon Plaintiff Donald
Jones’ submission of a request to reopen his case. (ECF No. 39).
For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff’s request will be
granted and Plaintiff will be permitted to amend his Complaint.
Plaintiff filed his initial Complaint on or about January
6, 2014 pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of
Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388, 91 S.Ct. 1999, 29
L.Ed.2d 619 (1971), alleging inadequate medical care in
violation of the Eighth Amendment. (ECF No. 1).
In an Order
dated March 27, 2014, the Court granted Plaintiff’s application
to proceed in forma pauperis and screened the Complaint for
dismissal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A and 42
U.S.C. § 1997e. (ECF No. 10).
This Court ordered that that
Plaintiff’s Eighth Amendment medical-care claim could proceed as
against Defendant “Unnamed Medical Staff” only, and dismissed
Plaintiff’s claims against the remaining defendants for failure
to state a claim. Id. at 3.
This Court also directed Plaintiff
to file an amended complaint within 120 days which identified,
by name, the defendant that Plaintiff described as “Unnamed
Medical Staff” who failed to take his vital signs or deliver
medical care on the morning of April 9, 2012; and who told
Plaintiff to watch for a medical appointment on April 10, 2012.
Thereafter Plaintiff filed a series of motions and letters
including and Application for Leave to Amend the Complaint (ECF
No. 12) and an Amended Complaint (ECF No. 21).
addressed these filings in an Order dated August 12, 2014 (ECF
No. 25) and determined that the Amended Complaint did not
include factual allegations tying any treatment decisions to the
previously dismissed defendants, nor did it identify by name the
sole remaining fictitious defendant, described in the original
Complaint as “Unnamed Medical Staff.” Id. at 2-3.
This Court considered Plaintiff’s submissions, the
allegations set forth in his Amended Complaint, and the efforts
made by Plaintiff in attempting to determine the name of the
“Unnamed Medical Staff.”
Ultimately, this Court found that
Plaintiff failed to make a good faith effort to comply with the
instruction to identify the fictitious defendant “Unnamed
Accordingly, this Court dismissed the claims
against all defendants, denied all pending applications and
motions as moot, and closed the Court’s file. Id.
On August 25, 2014, Plaintiff filed a Notice of Appeal.
(ECF No. 26).
While that appeal, App. No. 14-3736, was pending
before the Third Circuit, Plaintiff filed an “Amended Complaint”
before this Court. (ECF No. 35).
In an Order dated June 11,
2015, this Court addressed Plaintiff’s “Amended Complaint,” and,
to the extent necessary, dismissed his request for lack of
jurisdiction. (ECF No. 37).
On or about June 26, 2015, Plaintiff filed a separate civil
action. See Jones v. United States, No. 15-4420 (NLH).
original complaint submitted in that case is essentially
identical to the “Amended Complaint” (ECF No. 35) submitted in
the instant action.
On June 29, 2015, this Court
administratively terminated civil case No. 15-4420 due to
Plaintiff’s failure to satisfy the filing fee requirement.
or about July 13, 2015, Plaintiff filed an application to
proceed in forma pauperis in Civil Case No. 15-4420, and that
case was reopened for review by a judicial officer.
While the Court was considering Plaintiff’s in forma
pauperis application in Civil Case No. 15-4420, the Third
Circuit Court of Appeals, pursuant to Federal Rule of Appellate
Procedure 42(b), dismissed the appeal of the instant action at
Plaintiff’s request so that Plaintiff could proceed with the
instant case, Civ. No. 14-139, before this Court. (ECF No. 38).
Upon receiving notice that the Appellate Court had
dismissed the pending appeal, Plaintiff filed a request to
reopen the instant case before this Court (ECF No. 39), which
the Court now addresses.
Plaintiff also filed a letter in the
pending Civil Case No. 15-4420 requesting that the Court delay
ruling on his in forma pauperis application in that case until
such time as the Court rules on the application to reopen the
instant action, Civ. No. 14-139.
REQUEST TO REOPEN
Upon receipt of Plaintiff’s letter request to reopen (ECF
No. 39), the instant case was reopened for review of this
submission by a judicial officer.
It is apparent that Plaintiff seeks to reopen the instant
case so that he can amend his Complaint to assert a cause of
action against the United States under the Federal Tort Claims
The Court bases this conclusion on the filings in
this case — specifically the “Amended Complaint” (ECF No. 35) —
and the submissions in Plaintiff’s new, separate civil action,
Civ. No. 15-4420.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 15(a) favors allowing
amendments to complaints “when justice so requires,” in the
absence of any apparent or declared reason, such as undue delay,
bad faith, or undue prejudice. See Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178,
182, 83 S.Ct. 227, 9 L.Ed.2d 222 (1962); see also Green v. Dep't
of Corr., 393 F. App'x 20, 23 (3d Cir. 2010).
The claims in the
original Complaint and those proposed in the “Amended Complaint”
(ECF No. 35) are based on the same set of facts.
although some of his efforts were misguided, Plaintiff has
diligently sought to pursue these claims in the instant action,
on appeal, and in the separate civil action.
is nothing to suggest undue delay, bad faith, or the existence
of any other reason which weighs against permitting amendment.
Accordingly, the Court grants Plaintiff leave to amend his
Complaint in the instant case.
Because Plaintiff previously
submitted an Amended Complaint in the instant case (ECF No. 21),
any subsequent amended complaint will be considered the “Second
Amended Complaint” on this docket.
Plaintiff is on notice that
his Second Amended Complaint will be subject to sua sponte
screening by the Court. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); 28 U.S.C. §
1915A; 42 U.S.C. § 1997e.
As discussed above, the Court notes that Plaintiff filed a
document captioned “Amended Complaint” on the docket in this
case while his appeal was pending. (ECF No. 35).
To the extent
Plaintiff wishes that document to be considered as the Second
Amended Complaint in the instant case, he may so notify the
Court, in writing, within 45 days of the date of this Order.
In the event Plaintiff wishes to submit a new document to
be considered as the Second Amended Complaint, he may so notify
the Court, in writing, within 45 days of the date of this Order.
Plaintiff must attach to this writing the document which he
wishes to be considered as the Second Amended Complaint.
Plaintiff should note that when an amended complaint is
filed, it supersedes the original and renders it of no legal
effect, unless the amended complaint specifically refers to or
adopts the earlier pleading. See West Run Student Housing
Associates, LLC v. Huntington National Bank, 712 F.3d 165, 171
(3d Cir. 2013) (collecting cases). See also 6 CHARLES ALAN WRIGHT &
ARTHUR R. MILLER, FEDERAL PRACTICE
PROCEDURE § 1476 (3d ed. 2008).
To avoid confusion, the safer practice is to submit an amended
complaint that is complete in itself. Id.
If Plaintiff does not submit either a written response or a
new, separate filing intended as the Second Amended Complaint
within 45 days, the Court will construe the “Amended Complaint”
which already appears on the docket (ECF No. 35) as the Second
Amended Complaint in this case.
For the foregoing reasons, Plaintiff’s request to reopen
the instant case is GRANTED.
amend his complaint.
Plaintiff will be permitted to
Within 45 days of the date of this Order,
Plaintiff shall submit to the Court a written response
indicating either: (1) his desire to have the recently submitted
“Amended Complaint” (ECF No. 35) considered as the Second
Amended Complaint in this action; or (2) his desire to have
another document, which he must attach to this writing,
considered as the Second Amended Complaint in this action.
no response is received from Plaintiff within 45 days, the Court
will construe the document which appears on the docket with the
caption “Amended Complaint” (ECF No. 35) as the Second Amended
Complaint in this case and it will be screened in due course.
An appropriate Order follows.
____s/ Noel L. Hillman____
NOEL L. HILLMAN
United States District Judge
Dated: July 27, 2015
At Camden, New Jersey
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