United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
Reona J. Daly, United States Magistrate Judge.
matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Andre Rankin's
Motion for Leave to File First Amended Complaint (Doc. 87).
Defendant filed a response in opposition to the motion (Doc.
91) and Plaintiff filed a reply thereto (Doc. 92), which the
Court will consider in light of the exceptional circumstances
delineated by Plaintiff. For the reasons set forth below, the
Motion is GRANTED.
and Factual Background
an inmate in the custody of the Illinois Department of
Corrections, filed this lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§1983 alleging his constitutional rights were violated
while he was incarcerated at Pinckneyville Correctional
Center. Plaintiff is currently proceeding on the following
Count One: Defendant Wanack violated Plaintiff's Eighth
Amendment rights by failing to protect him from an assault by
Inmate Biggs on May 22, 2013;
Count Two: Defendant Wanack violated Plaintiff's Eighth
Amendment rights by using excessive force when removing
Plaintiff from his cell following the assault on May 22,
Count Three: Defendant Wanack retaliated against Plaintiff
for complaining about his cell assignment with Inmate Biggs,
in violation of the First Amendment, by moving him back to
the cell with Inmate Biggs on May 22, 2013, and to
segregation on July 15, 2014.
(See Docs. 6 and 73).
through counsel, seeks leave to amend his complaint to
include additional, recently discovered information and set
forth claims of civil conspiracy, assault, and battery
against Defendant Wanack. The newly discovered information, on
which Plaintiff bases his proposed claims, consists of
statements allegedly made by Defendant Wanack to another
inmate, Biggs, instructing Biggs to attack Plaintiff and
advising Biggs that he would pretend that he did not see
explains that he did not become aware of Defendant
Wanack's statements until sometime around April 15, 2017,
when Plaintiff and Biggs happened to be assigned nearby cells
at Pontiac Correctional Center (Deposition of Plaintiff Andre
Rankin, Doc. 92-2, p. 20). Plaintiff then relayed this newly
learned information to his counsel who sought to depose
Biggs. Inmate Biggs was deposed on June 22, 2017. Plaintiff
filed his motion to amend now before the Court on July 5,
2017, approximately one week before the dispositive motion
Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a) provides that a party may amend
a pleading and that leave to amend should be freely given
"when justice so requires." The Seventh Circuit
maintains a liberal attitude toward the amendment of
pleadings "so that cases may be decided on the merits
and not on the basis of technicalities." Stern v.
U.S. Gypsum, Inc., 547 F.2d 1329, 1334 (7th Cir. 1977).
The Circuit recognizes that "the complaint merely serves
to put the defendant on notice and is to be freely amended or
constructively amended as the case develops, as long as
amendments do not unfairly surprise or prejudice the
defendant." Toth v. USX Corp., 883 F.2d 1297,
1298 (7th Cir. 1989); see also Winger v. Winger, 82
F.3d 140, 144 (7th Cir. 1996) ("The Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure create [a system] in which the complaint does
not fix the plaintiff's rights but may be amended at any
time to conform to the evidence.") (quotation omitted).
A court may also deny a party leave to amend if there is
undue delay, dilatory motive or futility. Guise v. BMW
Mortgage, LLC, 377 F.3d 795, 801 (7th Cir. 2004).
contends that Plaintiff's motion to amend must be denied
insofar as it is untimely, prejudicial, and futile. When
considering whether a proposed amendment is unduly delayed,
courts look to the similarity of the factual basis for the
claims in the original complaint to the newly-asserted
claims, the moving party's explanation for their delay in
raising the new claims, and whether granting the motion to
amend will require new or duplicated discovery efforts.
See, e.g., Bethany Pharmacal Co., Inc. v. QVC, Inc.,
241 F.3d 854, 861-62 (7th Cir. 2001). Delay alone, however,
“is usually not sufficient to deny a motion for leave
to amend, ” Arrigo v. Link, 836 F.3d 787, 797
(7th Cir. 2016). Indeed, delay “must be coupled with
some other reason” - typically, prejudice to the
nonmoving party. Dubicz v. Commonwealth Edison Co.,
377 F.3d 787, 793 (7th Cir. 2004).
argues Plaintiff's motion to amend is unduly delayed and
prejudicial as it was filed four years after the cause of
action accrued, more than two years after Plaintiff filed his
initial complaint, and after extensive discovery was
conducted and exchanged. Although Defendant takes issue with
the timing of Plaintiff's motion, Plaintiff has offered
an adequate explanation for his delay - that he was not aware
of the new information concerning Defendant Wanack's
statements to Inmate Biggs until April 2017. Further, cutting
against any possible prejudice to Defendant is that fact that
Defendant was able to question Biggs and Plaintiff as to the
newly discovered information during their respective
depositions. That Defendant was not informed of
Plaintiff's intent to add new claims prior to taking
these depositions is not evidence of prejudice, as it is well
recognized that pleadings may be amended to conform to the
evidence, which is the circumstance here. See
Winger, 82 F.3d at 144. Although the proposed amended
complaint does assert new claims against Defendant, the
factual basis is ...