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King v. Indiana Supreme Court

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

November 7, 2014

DUSTIN A. KING, Plaintiff,


MARK J. DINSMORE, Magistrate Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Amend. [Dkt. 53.] For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS Plaintiffs' motion.

I. Background

On June 26, 2014, Dustin King ("Plaintiff" or "King") sued the Marion County Office of the Court Administrator, the Marion County Council ("County Defendants"), the Indiana Supreme Court, the Marion County Circuit Court, and the Indiana Supreme Court Division of State Court Administration ("DSCA") (collectively "State Defendants"). King is deaf and communicates primarily through American Sign Language ("ASL"). [Dkt. 1 at 3.] He alleged that he was a party in a state court action related to custody of his daughter, and that the court ordered him to participate in mandatory mediation. [ Id. at 4.] King claims that he moved the court for appointment of an ASL interpreter for the mediation and asked for appointment at the court's expense because he "is an individual of modest means." [ Id. ] The court, however, denied the motion. [ Id. ] King moved for reconsideration, but the court denied this motion as well. [ Id. ] He then sought an interlocutory appeal, but the state court denied that motion, allegedly forcing King to locate his own ASL interpreter for the mediation at his own expense. [ Id. ]

As a result, Plaintiff alleges a violation of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), [ id. at 5], which provides that "no qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by any such entity." 42 U.S.C. § 12132. Plaintiff also alleges a violation of the Rehabilitation Act, [Dkt. 1 at 6], which provides that no "otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States, as defined in section 705(20) of this title, shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance." 29 U.S.C. § 794.

On August 28, 2014, the County Defendants moved to dismiss Plaintiffs' claims. [Dkt. 30.] They argued that the complaint failed to state a claim under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) because Plaintiff alleged only that the trial court's order discriminated against him; he did not allege that the County Defendants were responsible for any aspect of this order, and thus failed to present a plausible claim that the County Defendants violated his rights. [Dkt. 31 at 4.]

Plaintiff responded by amending his complaint to allege that the County Defendants participated in the provision of ASL interpreters in court-ordered mediations. [Dkt. 39 at 2.] The County Defendants moved to dismiss this Amended Complaint. [Dkt. 43.] They asserted that Plaintiff's own allegations showed that interpreters are not generally provided to the public, such that Plaintiff had not alleged that "but for" his hearing disability, he would have received access to an interpreter. [Dkt. 44 at 5.]

State Defendants also moved to dismiss the Amended Complaint. [Dkt. 45.] They presented numerous reasons for dismissal, including lack of Article III standing; lack of subject matter jurisdiction; sovereign immunity; judicial immunity; and failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. [Dkt. 46 at 2.]

On October 14, 2014, Plaintiff responded to State Defendants' motion by filing the current Motion for Leave to Amend. [Dkt. 53.] He included a proposed Second Amended Complaint ("SAC"), which includes a variety of new factual allegations, [ see id. ], and asked the Court for leave to file this Second Amended Complaint.

II. Discussion

Plaintiff has already amended his complaint once as a matter of right, [Dkt. 53 at 1], and Plaintiff has not obtained Defendants' consent to an amendment. [Dkt. 54 at 2.] Thus, Plaintiff may amend his complaint only with the Court's leave. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2).

"The court should freely give leave when justice so requires." Id. This rule, however, does not mandate that leave be granted in every case: "district courts have broad discretion to deny leave to amend where there is undue delay, bad faith, dilatory motive, repeated failure to cure deficiencies, undue prejudice to the defendants, or where the amendment would be futile." Arreola v. Godinez, 546 F.3d 788, 796 (7th Cir. 2008).

Defendants resist the motion to amend only on the grounds that the proposed amendment is futile.[1] [ See Dkt. 54 at 3.] As the parties resisting the amendment, State Defendants have the burden to show the amended complaint's futility. See, e.g., Foreman v. King, No. 12 CV 50419, 2013 WL 4482612, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 20, 2013). A pleading is futile if it restates the same facts using different language, reasserts claims previously determined, fails to state a valid theory of liability, or would not survive a motion to dismiss.[2] Garcia v. City of Chicago, Ill., 24 F.3d 966, 970 (7th Cir. 1994); see also McCoy v. Iberdrola Renewables, Inc., 760 F.3d 674, 685 (7th Cir. 2014) reh'g denied, No. 13-3350, 2014 WL 4979692 (7th Cir. Oct. 7, 2014) ("District courts may refuse to entertain a proposed amendment on futility grounds when the new pleading would not survive a motion to dismiss."). To survive a motion to dismiss, the new complaint must "contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" McCoy, 760 F.3d at 685 (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). Before denying such an amendment, however, it should be "clear" that the proposed amended complaint "is deficient" and would not survive such a motion. Johnson v. Dossey, 515 F.3d 778, 780 (7th Cir. 2008).

Plaintiff contends that his proposed SAC contains allegations that cure any deficiencies raised by State Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. [Dkt. 53 at 2.] State Defendants acknowledge that Plaintiff "has included some new factual allegations in the proposed amended complaint, " but argue that none of these allegations "are sufficient to survive the State Defendants' Motion to Dismiss" because they do not address the "fatal jurisdictional and theory of liability flaws elucidated in the State Defendants' Motion to Dismiss." [Dkt. 54 at 3.] The Court will thus consider the arguments ...

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