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HAMPTON v. HANRAHAN

August 4, 1981

IBERIA HAMPTON, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
EDWARD V. HANRAHAN, ET AL., DEFENDANTS, AND THE FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION; THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE; THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA; THE ESTATE OF CLYDE TOLSON, ON BEHALF OF J. EDGAR HOOVER; THE ESTATE OF WILLIAM SULLIVAN; GEORGE MOORE, JOHN MITCHELL, JERRIS LEONARD; THE CITY OF CHICAGO, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION; AND COOK COUNTY, A LOCAL PUBLIC CORPORATION, PROPOSED DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Grady, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiffs have filed a motion for leave to amend the complaint and add as defendants the United States Department of Justice ("DOJ"), the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI"), the United States, various federal officials or their estates, the City of Chicago, and Cook County. For reasons discussed below, the plaintiffs' motion is granted in part and denied in part. Plaintiffs are given leave to add all defendants proposed in this amendment except the United States, the FBI and the DOJ.

In addition, we find that the amendment as proposed by plaintiffs is not in compliance with Rules 8(a) and 8(e)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. We therefore require that plaintiffs present a new amendment in accordance with this opinion.

DISCUSSION

We shall address separately the issues raised by the proposed joinder of each distinct group of defendants: the local government bodies, the individual federal officials or their estates, and the federal government and federal agencies.

1. Local Governments — Section 1983

Plaintiffs seek to rejoin the City of Chicago and Cook County as defendants in this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Although plaintiffs named these parties as defendants in the original complaint filed in 1970, the City and County were dismissed in 1972, and again in 1975 from an amended complaint, under the rule in Monroe v. Pape, 365 U.S. 167, 81 S.Ct. 473, 5 L.Ed.2d 492 (1961), which held that municipalities were not "persons" subject to suit under § 1983. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the 1972 dismissal in Hampton I, 484 F.2d 602 (1973), and plaintiffs did not raise this issue on the second appeal in 1977 since Monroe was still good law. Defendants now argue that plaintiffs' failure to appeal the 1975 dismissal constitutes a waiver of their cause of action against these defendants, notwithstanding the Supreme Court's overruling of this portion of Monroe v. Pape in Monell v. Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 98 S.Ct. 2018, 56 L.Ed.2d 611 (1978). We hold that plaintiffs' failure to appeal the 1975 dismissal does not bar them from now rejoining these parties as defendants in light of Monell. We are unwilling to penalize plaintiffs for not anticipating Monell.*fn1 See Burt v. Abel, 585 F.2d 613, 617 (4th Cir. 1978).

The significant issues raised by plaintiffs' attempt to join these parties at this stage of the proceedings is whether the expiration of the five year statute of limitations bars plaintiffs from asserting their cause of action against these defendants. We note at the outset that the statute of limitations problem exists only with regard to plaintiffs' suit against the proposed defendants for injuries resulting from the "first" conspiracy described by the Seventh Circuit — the planning and carrying out of the raid. Hampton II, 600 F.2d 600, 621-22 (1979). The Seventh Circuit found that plaintiffs had made a prima facie case of a "second" conspiracy — the post-raid legal harassment of the plaintiffs, the coverup of evidence at the first trial, and the concealment of the first conspiracy. In addition, we believe plaintiffs allege an overall "continuing" conspiracy which spans both the raid and the alleged coverup and exists to this day.

The statutory period for filing a civil rights action is five years from the date the action accrues. Beard v. Robinson, 563 F.2d 331 (7th Cir. 1977), cert. denied, 438 U.S. 907, 98 S.Ct. 3125, 57 L.Ed.2d 1149 (1978).*fn2 Where the conspiracy is "continuous" the limitations period does not begin to run until the final overt act causing injury is completed. Where the conspiracy has been concealed, the cause of action does not accrue and the limitations period does not begin to run until the date plaintiffs discover — or should have discovered — the evidence which establishes the conspiracy and links the defendants to the plaintiffs' injury. Smith v. Nixon, 606 F.2d 1183, 1190 (D.C.Cir. 1979); Fitzgerald v. Seamans, 553 F.2d 220, 228 (D.C.Cir. 1977). The conspiracy to cover up evidence at the first trial can be said to have ended at the earliest with the close of the trial in 1977; therefore, plaintiffs would have until 1982 to join all defendants to claims for injuries resulting from the coverup. The statute of limitations with regard to the City's and the County's complicity in the "continuing conspiracy" has not even begun to run, since there has been no final overt act which would signal the commencement of the limitations period. Thus, the only issue remaining is whether the plaintiffs can join these parties as defendants for injuries sustained as a result of the "first" conspiracy — the planning and carrying out of the raid itself.

Rule 15 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides for liberal allowance of amendments in order to meet the "requirements of justice." In cases where the plaintiff's amendment seeks to change the capacity or identity of the parties after the applicable limitation period has run, Rule 15(c) provides for relation back to the date of the original complaint if the amendment meets certain requirements:

  (1) The claim against the proposed defendant must
      arise out of conduct set forth in the original
      pleading.
  (2) The proposed defendant must have received such
      notice of the institution of the original action
      that it will not be prejudiced in maintaining its
      defense on the merits.
  (3) The proposed defendant "knew or should have known
      that, but for a mistake concerning the identity
      of the proper party, the action would have been
      brought against [it]."

In applying Rule 15(c), as a whole, "courts have generally examined the facts of the case to ascertain whether the allowance of such amendment would be inconsistent with the notice requirements inherent in such limitation." 3 Moore's Federal Practice, ¶ 15.15[4.-1] p. 15-211-12. The rule is to be liberally construed. DeMalherbe v. International Union of Elevator Constructors, 449 F. Supp. 1335, 1354 (N.D.Cal. 1978). In cases where plaintiffs have been allowed to add another defendant, courts have looked for an extremely close relationship between the original and added defendant, and lack of prejudice to the added defendant. In addition, courts consider the original intention of plaintiff, and whether plaintiff has a justification for failing to name the proper party initially. See cases cited in Moore's, supra, at ¶ 15.08[5], pp. 15-121-23, text accompanying notes 19-21.

It is clear that the claims against the City and County arise from the same conduct alleged against all defendants in the original proceeding. Thus, Rule 15(c)(1) is satisfied.

It is also clear that the City and County, which were named as defendants in the original proceeding and which plaintiffs tried to join in 1975, had ample notice of the institution of this action. Compare Hernandez Jimenez v. Calero Toledo, 604 F.2d 99, 103 (1st Cir. 1979) (proposed defendant had no notice of the institution of the action and no ...


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