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Merritte v. Kessell

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

January 15, 2015

CALVIN MERRITTE, # R-53322, Plaintiff,


J. PHIL GILBERT, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court for review of Plaintiff's proposed Fourth Amended Complaint, which he submitted on January 9, 2015. This pleading was tendered in response to the Order of December 9, 2014 (Doc. 168), which struck Plaintiff's Third Amended Complaint (Doc. 167) and granted Plaintiff permission to file a Fourth Amended Complaint, subject to certain parameters. Along with the proposed new pleading, Plaintiff filed on January 9, 2015, a "Combined Response or Objection to the Court's Order (Doc. 158) and Motion for Leave to File an Amended and Supplemented Complaint" (Doc. 176). For the reasons explained below, the relief sought in Plaintiff's Response/Objection/Motion at Doc. 176 shall be denied, and the proposed Fourth Amended Complaint shall not be filed.[1] As such, this action shall proceed on the Second Amended Complaint (Doc. 17).

1. Background

The procedural history of this case, including Plaintiff's prior attempts to amend his complaint, was summarized in the order at Doc. 168, and shall not be repeated here. That order also fully discussed the reasons for the Court's rejection of Plaintiff's Third Amended Complaint, in which he attempted to unreasonably expand his claims to include numerous additional Plaintiffs and Defendants at four other prisons besides Lawrence (where the original claims arose), as well as incidents reaching back to August 2009. After the Court ordered the Third Amended Complaint to be stricken, Plaintiff was given one final chance to submit a new amended complaint. He was specifically instructed to limit his claims to those described in Counts 1, 2, and 3, which had previously passed the Court's scrutiny under 28 U.S.C. ยง 1915A (Doc. 168, p. 6). He was also ordered to refrain from joining any additional Plaintiffs. Id.

2. The Proposed Fourth Amended Complaint

Plaintiff's new proposed Fourth Amended Complaint (which has not been filed of record) flagrantly ignores the Court's specific order as to the scope of the amended pleading. Contrary to this Court's directions, Plaintiff has retained one purported named co-Plaintiff (Leondous Coleman, who signed the proposed amended complaint but has not been added as a party). He has also included "IDOC Prisoners, and Correctional Staff" as additional classes of Plaintiffs. Further, in addition to the remaining five Lawrence Correctional Center Defendants, he names 67 new Defendants, including prison officials at Centralia, Robinson, Graham, Vandalia, Stateville, and Pinckneyville Correctional Centers, along with an unknown number of John/Jane Doe prison employees. Most, if not all, of these new Defendants are not associated with the pending claims in Counts 1, 2, and 3.

The claims in the proposed Fourth Amended Complaint are not limited to Counts 1, 2, and 3 in this action, which arose at Lawrence between January and April 2012. As with the stricken Third Amended Complaint, this new pleading again starts by describing incidents in August 2009 at Centralia, Robinson, and Graham, which predate the original Lawrence claims by approximately three years. Plaintiff also seeks to add new Lawrence claims against numerous individuals who were not involved in Counts 1, 2, and 3, including incidents that occurred long after the instant suit was filed, continuing into late 2012, 2013, and 2014. In addition to the new Lawrence claims, the proposed amended complaint includes new incidents and allegations dating from December 2013 while Plaintiff was temporarily at Stateville; May-August 2014 at Graham involving only co-Plaintiff Coleman; and up through 2014 at Pinckneyville.

3. Plaintiff's Response or Objection and Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint (Doc. 176)

Plaintiff's "Response or Objection" to the December 9, 2014, order at Doc. 16 is essentially a motion seeking reconsideration of that order. Such motions are considered as either motions to alter or amend an order or judgment under Rule 59(e) or motions for relief from judgment/order under Rule 60(b). See, e.g., Mares v. Busby, 34 F.3d 533, 535 (7th Cir. 1994).

Different standards and timetables govern Rule 59(e) and Rule 60(b) motions. Rule 59(e) permits a court to amend a judgment or order only if the movant demonstrates a manifest error of law or fact or presents newly discovered evidence that was not previously available. See, e.g., Sigsworth v. City of Aurora, 487 F.3d 506, 511-12 (7th Cir. 2007). A Rule 59(e) motion must be filed within 28 days of the challenged order. No extension may be allowed. FED. R. CIV. P. 6(b)(2).

Rule 60(b) permits a court to relieve a party from an order or judgment based on the following grounds:

1) mistake, inadvertence, surprise or excusable neglect;
2) newly discovered evidence that, with reasonable diligence, could not have been discovered in time to move for ...

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