JANOWSKI v. DOCTOR WILLIAMS et al
OPINION filed. Signed by Judge Freda L. Wolfson on 7/10/2015. (mmh)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
MICHAEL S. JANOWSKI,
Civil Action No. 12-3144 (FLW)
DR. WILLIAMS, et al.,
WOLFSON, United States District Judge:
This matter comes before the Court on a motion for summary judgment by Dr. Eric
Williams, M.D. (“Dr. Williams”), (ECF No. 83). As explained in more detail in this Opinion,
Plaintiff has made it clear in his prior filings that he wishes to dismiss without prejudice the
Complaint against Dr. Williams, whom he named as a Defendant in error in his initial
Complaint, and Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint neither names Eric Williams, M.D. as a
Defendant nor alleges that Dr. Williams participated in the wrongdoing that gives rise to
Plaintiff’s section 1983 claims. As such, the Complaint is dismissed without prejudice against
Dr. Williams, and his motion for summary judgment is dismissed as moot.
FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
The Court recounts only those facts relevant to this Opinion. On May 29, 2012, Plaintiff
filed a Complaint against a number of Defendants alleging that he was denied access to medical
care at the Bo Robinson Assessment and Treatment Center (“Bo Robinson”). (See ECF No. 1.)
Plaintiff named an individual known to him as “Doctor Williams” as the first-named Defendant.
(See id.) On March 11, 2013, Eric Williams M.D. filed an answer to the Complaint through his
attorney. (ECF No. 28.) On October 15, 2013, Plaintiff filed a motion for constructive service
of process of the Summons and the Complaint upon “Doctor William Stanley, who was
improperly named in the complaint as ‘Dr. Williams’.” (ECF No. 66, Notice of Motion at 2.)
Plaintiff also sought to dismiss the claims without prejudice as to Dr. Eric Williams. (Id.) In his
letter brief supporting his motion, Plaintiff certified to the following:
The plaintiff’s complaint named “Doctor Williams” as an
defendant in this civil action. However[,] through discovery, it has
come to plaintiff' s attention that the person known to him as
“Doctor Williams” actual name is “Doctor William Stanley”.
Normally under the misnomer doctrine this would not present a
problem[;]however, in the instant case, Doctor William Stanley
was not served with the complaint and summons. Instead, another
doctor, whose last name is “Williams”, was served and answered
The plaintiff seeks to correct this mistake, and moves to
have the later Doctor Williams dismissed from this action without
prejudice, and to have the Summons & Complaint served upon
Doctor William Stanley, and that all references in the complaint
that refer to “Doctor Williams”, b[e] cons[trued] to refer to
Doctor William Stanley.
(ECF No. 66-1, Pl. Br. at 3 (emphasis in original).) Plaintiff reiterated in his letter brief that he
sought to have the claims dismissed without prejudice as to Dr. Williams and to have the
summons and complaint served on Dr. William Stanley. (Id. at 4.)
In a Memorandum Opinion and Order, filed on March 18, 2014, the Honorable Douglas
E. Arpert, U.S.M.J., granted Plaintiff’s request for constructive service of process on Dr. William
Stanley and also construed Plaintiff’s request as a motion for leave to amend the Complaint to
substitute Doctor William Stanley for “Doctor Williams.” (ECF No. 79.) Although Judge
Arpert’s Memorandum Opinion and Order noted Plaintiff’s request to dismiss the claims without
prejudice as to Dr. Williams and permitted Plaintiff to file an amended complaint to correct his
error, the Memorandum Order did not formally dismiss the claims without prejudice as to Dr.
Williams. (See id.) Instead, Judge Arpert’s opinion granted Plaintiff leave to file an amended
complaint “to substitute Doctor William Stanley for ‘Doctor Williams.’” (Id. at 3.)
On May 6, 2014, Dr. Williams filed a motion for summary judgment. On May 20, 2014,
Plaintiff wrote to the Court asking that summary judgment be granted as to Dr. Williams and that
the Complaint be dismissed without prejudice as to Dr. Williams. (ECF No. 88, at 1.) Plaintiff
attached copies of his correspondence with Dr. Williams’ attorney, including a stipulation of
dismissal without prejudice that was signed by Plaintiff but not by Dr. Williams or his attorney.
(ECF No. 88-1.) On June 16, 2014, Plaintiff filed an amended Complaint substituting Dr.
William Stanley for “Dr. Williams.” (ECF No. 93.) The Amended Complaint clearly identifies
“Dr. Williams” as Dr. William Stanley. (Id. at 5.) The Amended Complaint also makes no
mention of Eric Williams, M.D. and attributes no wrongdoing to him.
In the interim, the pending summary judgment motion by Dr. Williams was terminated
by the District Court. On February 13, 2015, the Court reinstated the motion for summary
judgment against Dr. Williams. (ECF Nos. 118, 120.) The Court noted that “Plaintiff has yet to
file an opposition brief to the aforementioned summary judgment motions despite having nearly
ninety days to do so.” (Id.) On March 10, 2015, the case was reassigned to the undersigned. To
date, Plaintiff has not filed any opposition to the motion for summary judgment filed by Dr.
Here, the Court need not decide Dr. Williams’ motion for summary judgment because
Plaintiff (1) brought a motion asking that the Complaint against Dr. Williams be dismissed
without prejudice, and (2) he subsequently filed an Amended Complaint that replaced “Dr.
Williams” with Dr. William Stanley. 1 Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint does not name or mention
Eric Williams, M.D., or allege any wrongdoing by Dr. Williams. 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 AND
PROCEDURE § 1476 (3d ed.2008). As such, Dr. Williams is terminated from the case, and his
motion for summary judgment is dismissed as moot.
Because Plaintiff previously moved to dismiss his Complaint without prejudice against
Dr. Williams and because he filed an Amended Complaint that does not name Eric Williams,
M.D. as a Defendant or otherwise allege any wrongdoing by him, the Complaint against Dr.
Williams is hereby dismissed without prejudice. In light of that dismissal, Dr. Williams’ motion
for summary judgment is dismissed as moot. An appropriate Order follows.
s/Freda L. Wolfson
Freda L. Wolfson
United States District Judge
The Court notes that Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint has not been screened pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915A, and the fact that Defendants have filed answers or dispositive motions in
response to the complaint does not preclude this Court from screening the Amended Complaint
at a future date. See Rivera v. Zwiegle, et. al., Civ No. 13–3024, 2014 WL 6991954 at *1 n.1
(D.N.J. Dec. 9, 2014) (citing Lair v. Purdy, 84 F. App'x 413, 414 (5th Cir. 2003) (per curiam)
(rejecting federal prisoner's argument that district court erred in using § 1915 A to dismiss some
of his claims after the defendants had already answered) and Loving v. Lea, No. 13–158, 2013
WL 3293655, at *1 (M.D. La. June 28, 2013) (“A § 1915A dismissal may be made at any time,
before or after service of process and before or after an answer is filed.”)).
Date: July 10, 2015
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