ALLAH v. BARTKOWSKI et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Magistrate Judge Tonianne J. Bongiovanni on 5/17/2017. (seb)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
JUSTICE RASIDEEN ALLAH,
GREG BARTKOWSKI et al,
Civil Action No. 11-3153 (MAS)
This matter comes before the Court upon Plaintiff, Justice Rasideen Allah’s (“Plaintiff”)
motion to file an amended complaint against Defendants Greg Bartkowski, Michele R. Ricci,
Christopher Holmes, William Moliens, James [Jimmy] Barnes, Crystal Ann Raupp, Dr. Flora
Defilippo, Mr. Zell, Thomas Steckel, Hatima Ismail, Ruben Ortiz, Captain B. Kennedy and
Lieutenant Alaimo, (collectively, “Defendants”) (Docket Entry No. 110). Defendants have not
filed an opposition to Plaintiff’s motion. The Court has fully reviewed and considered all
arguments made in support of, and in opposition to, Plaintiff’s motion. The Court considers
Plaintiff’s motion without oral argument pursuant to L.Civ.R. 78.1(b). For the reasons set forth
more fully below, Plaintiff’s motion to file an amended complaint is GRANTED.
Background and Procedural History
On June 2, 2011, Plaintiff filed a complaint against Defendants alleging violations of the
Eight Amendment and the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment due to his
placement in the Management Control Unit (“MCU”) of the New Jersey State Prison. (Docket
Entry No. 1). Upon its sua sponte screening of the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1915(e)(2),
the District Court dismissed all claims finding that Plaintiff failed to state a claim upon which
relief could be granted. (Docket Entry No. 8).
Plaintiff filed a motion for reconsideration
(Docket Entry No. 10) which was denied (Docket Entry No. 13). Plaintiff appealed (Docket
Entry No. 15) and the Third Circuit vacated the dismissal and remanded the case (Docket Entry
No. 20). Defendants then filed two motions to dismiss (Docket Entry Nos. 81 and 83).
Plaintiff’s counsel filed his notice of appearance on October 16, 2015 (Docket Entry No. 84) and
filed opposition to the motions to dismiss on November 2, 2015 (Docket Entry No. 86). The
District Court denied both motions to dismiss on April 21, 2016. (Docket Entry Nos. 92 and 93).
Defendants then filed answers on May 20, 2016 and May 23, 2016. (Docket Entry Nos. 97 and
98). The Court entered a scheduling order on July 13, 2016 setting a fact discovery end date of
January 31, 2017. (Docket Entry No. 102). Plaintiff filed the instant motion on February 15,
A. Plaintiff’s Motion to Amend
Plaintiff seeks to amend his complaint to:
1) Add ten additional Defendants “who significantly contributed to the enactment
and enforcement of policies and practices that have caused Plaintiff and similarly
situated prisoners considerable suffering”;
2) Add information regarding international standards of cruel, inhuman and
degrading treatment with respect to solitary confinement;
3) Add further elaborations about Defendants’ willful ignorance or deliberate
indifference toward Plaintiff and similarly situated victims in the MCU;
4) Reorganize the original complaint “with much of the same language for clarity’s
5) Supplement the original complaint by adding information regarding events post
the 2011 pro se filing by Plaintiff.
Pl.’s Br. in Supp. of Mot. at 2.
Plaintiff notes that he does not seek to add any new legal theories. Id. The ten additional
Defendants that Plaintiff seeks to add are Chris Christie-the Governor of New Jersey1, Gary
Plaintiff incorrectly describes Chris Christie as the Governor of California. Pl.’s Proposed First Amended and
Supplemental Compl.at 8.
Lanigan-Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Corrections, Steven JohnsonAdministrator of New Jersey State Prison (“NJSP”), Warren2-Administrator of NJSP from 2011
to 2013, Stephen D’Ilio-Administrator of NJSP from 2013 to 2015, Norris3-Director of
Operations and MCURC Chairperson at NJSP from 2014 to 2016, Melinda Haley-Special Legal
Advisor at the Office of Legal and Regulatory Affairs, T. Maines-Assistant Superintendent
and/or Associate Administrator of NJSP from 2014 to present, George Robinson-Assistant
Superintendent and/or Associate Administrator at NJSP from 2013 to 2016, Lieutenant Major
Ptaszenski-Custody Supervisor and Member of the MCU Review Committee from 2014 to the
Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.15(a)(2), leave to amend the pleadings is generally granted
freely. See Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962); Alvin v. Suzuki, 227 F.3d 107, 121 (3d
Cir. 2000). Nevertheless, the Court may deny a motion to amend where there is “undue delay,
bad faith or dilatory motive on the part of the movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by
amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing party by virtue of allowance of
the amendment, [or] futility of the amendment.” (Id.) However, where there is an absence of
undue delay, bad faith, prejudice or futility, a motion for leave to amend a pleading should be
liberally granted. Long v. Wilson, 393 F.3d 390, 400 (3d Cir. 2004).
An amendment is futile if it “is frivolous or advances a claim or defense that is legally
insufficient on its face.” Harrison Beverage Co. v. Dribeck Imp., Inc., 133 F.R.D. 463, 468
(D.N.J. 1990) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). To evaluate futility the District
Court uses “the same standard of legal sufficiency” as applied for a motion to dismiss under Rule
Plaintiff does not provide a first name.
Plaintiff does not provide a first name.
12(b)(6). Shane v. Fauver, 213 F.3d 113, 115 (3d Cir. 2000). “Accordingly, if a claim is
vulnerable to dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6), but the plaintiff moves to amend, leave to amend
generally must be granted unless the amendment would not cure the deficiency.” (Id.)
Plaintiff argues that Defendants will not be prejudiced by the amendment. Pl.’s Br. in
Supp. of Mot. at 6. Plaintiff notes that the non-moving party has the burden of showing unfair
disadvantage or deprivation will result if the amendment is allowed. Id. (citing In re BristolMyers Squibb Secs. Litig., 228 F.R.D. 221, 228 (D.N.J. 2005). Plaintiff further notes that “the
additional allegations pleaded in the complaint largely relate to the same facts as the claims in
the original complaint.” Id. at 7.
Plaintiff argues that the amendments are not futile “insofar as Plaintiff has fleshed out, or
amplified, known factual bases for his claims against the present [D]efendants and against the
[D]efendants the [P]laintiff seeks to add.” Id. at 8.
Plaintiff argues that Defendants cannot show that Plaintiff acted in bad faith or with
undue delay because there is “no evidence to indicate that Plaintiff’s primary purpose in
amending his complaint at this time is improper.” Id. at 8-9. Plaintiff’s counsel concedes that he
has had to request several adjournments due to the difficulty of meeting with prisoners in the
MCU. Id. at 9.
The Court finds that Plaintiff has plead sufficient facts to show that the motion to amend
is not futile. When deciding if a motion to amend is futile, the Court looks at the four corners of
the complaint and accepts as true all facts plead by Plaintiff. Plaintiff has plead facts from which
the Court can draw the reasonable inference that Defendants are liable for the misconduct
Additionally, the Court finds that Plaintiff’s motion to amend is not prejudicial to
Defendants. The Court notes that pursuant to In re Bristol-Myers Squibb Secs. Litig., 228 F.R.D.
221, 228 (D.N.J. 2005), the burden is on the non-moving party to show that it will be prejudiced
by the amendment. The Court notes that Defendants have not filed opposition to Plaintiff’s
motion to amend, therefore, no arguments regarding prejudice to the Defendants have been
Finally, the Court finds that there has been no undue delay or bad faith by Plaintiff.
Although, the case is six years old, that is due to numerous motions and an appeal being filed as
well as Plaintiff counsel’s difficulty getting access to his client in the MCU.
For the reasons set forth above, Plaintiff’s Motion to Amend is GRANTED. An
appropriate Order follows.
Dated: May 17, 2017
s/ Tonianne J. Bongiovanni
HONORABLE TONIANNE J. BONGIOVANNI
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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