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Mounson v. Frey

September 29, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Herndon, Chief Judge


I. Introduction

This matter is before the Court on the Report and Recommendations ("R&R") issued pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) by United States Magistrate Judge Frazier (Doc. 80), recommending that Plaintiff's Motions for Leave to Amend his Complaint (Docs. 60, 65) be denied and further recommending that the unknown Parties in this case be dismissed without prejudice for lack of timely service of process. The R&R was sent to the Parties, with a notice informing them of their right to appeal by way of filing "objections" within fourteen days of service of the R&R. Plaintiff has timely filed his Objections (Doc. 88). Accordingly, this Court must undertake de novo review of the objected-to portions of the R&R. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B); FED. R. CIV. P. 72(b); SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS LOCAL RULE 73.1(b); Govas v. Chalmers, 965 F.2d 298, 301 (7th Cir. 1992). The Court may "accept, reject, or modify the recommended decision." Willis v. Caterpillar Inc., 199 F.3d 902, 904 (7th Cir. 1999). In making this determination, the Court must look at all the evidence contained in the record and give fresh consideration to those issues for which specific objection has been made. Id. However, the Court need not conduct a de novo review of the findings of the R&R for which no objections have been made. Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 149-52 (1985). Instead, the Court can simply adopt these findings.

II. Background

Plaintiff, an inmate, has brought a suit against Defendants pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He filed his original Complaint on October 30, 2008 (Doc. 1). Currently, Plaintiff brings an Eighth Amendment claim against Defendants for their deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs ("Count 1"). While incarcerated, Plaintiff was diagnosed with throat cancer. He alleges that Defendants intentionally prevented him from receiving all of his prescribed radiation treatments for his throat cancer. Among the Defendants were "Unknown Parties." In an Order dated October 23, 2009 (Doc. 36), the Court granted Plaintiff leave to file his First Amended Complaint (Doc. 37), allowing him to add several new Defendants, but denying the reinstatement and proposed revisions to Count 2 of his Complaint, which plead a claim for violation of his rights under the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 794.*fn1

Since filing his First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff has twice moved to amend it, in order to again: (1) supplement Count 1 by naming the nurses who had previously been referred to as "Unknown Parties," and (2) to reinstate and supplement Count 2 of his Complaint (Docs. 60, 65).*fn2 Finding Plaintiff's proposed Second Amended Complaint to be incomplete, the Court issued an Order on February 1, 2010 (Doc. 67), rejecting it and allowing Plaintiff leave to submit a proposed Third Amended Complaint for the Court's consideration.

In considering Plaintiff's proposed amendments as shown in his Third Amended Complaint, the R&R found that because Plaintiff sought to add additional Defendants, he did not meet the requirements to all these claims to "relate back," pursuant to FEDERAL RULE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE 15(c) because the additional Defendants did not receive notice allowing them to defend Plaintiff's suit on the merits within the time period provided by FEDERAL RULE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE 4(m) (Doc. 80, p. 2). In addition, the R&R noted that Rule 15(c)(1)(C)(ii) was not satisfied because there was no "mistake" concerning the proper party's unknown identity (Id. at 3). Therefore, the R&R found such proposed amendments to be "futile" (Id). With respect to Plaintiff's attempt to reinstate and revise his Rehabilitation Act claim in Count 2, which was dismissed without prejudice in threshold, the R&R found Plaintiff had failed to present grounds to warrant a reconsideration of the Court's previous dismissal. Therefore, the R&R believed this amendment to also be "futile" (Id.).

III. Discussion

A. Rule 15

Rule 15 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that when a party requests to amend its pleadings, a court "should freely give leave when justice so requires." FED.R.CIV.P. 15(a)(2). When a party seeks to amend a complaint to add a party, claim or otherwise substantially amend allegations outside of the applicable statute of limitations, it may be allowed if the proposed amendment can be found to "relate back" to the date of the original pleading. FED.R.CIV.P. 15(c).

Rule 15(c)(1) sets forth the requirements for when an amendment may "relate back":

(A) the law that provides the applicable statute of limitations allows relation back;

(B) the amendment asserts a claim or defense that arose out of the conduct, transaction, or occurrence set out--or attempted to be set out--in the original pleading; or

(C) the amendment changes the party or the naming of the party against whom a claim is asserted, if Rule 15(c)(1)(B) is satisfied and if, within the period provided by Rule 4(m) for serving the summons ...

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