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Estate of Simpson v. Bartholomew County Jail

United States District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division

November 7, 2014

ESTATE OF DENNIS SIMPSON, Plaintiff,
v.
BARTHOLOMEW COUNTY JAIL, BARTHOLOMEW COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT, BARTHOLOMEW COUNTY SHERIFF, BARTHOLOMEW COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS, DOES 1-50, INCLUSIVE, BARTHOLOMEW COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPUTIES, Defendants.

ORDER ON PLAINTIFF’S MOTION TO AMEND

Mark J. Dinsmore United States Magistrate Judge Southern District of Indiana

This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff’s Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint. [Dkt. 48.] For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS Plaintiffs’ motion.

I. Background

On June 23, 2014, the Estate of Dennis Simpson (“Plaintiff”) sued Bartholomew County Jail, Bartholomew Sheriff’s Department, the Bartholomew County Sheriff, Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Deputies, Bartholomew County Board of Commissioners, and John Does 1 through 50 (“Defendants”). [Dkt. 1 at 1.] The Complaint alleged that Dennis Simpson fell out of his bunk while in the custody of the Bartholomew County Jail and died due to injuries to his head and torso. [Id. at 4.] Plaintiff alleges that Defendants’ negligence in not following their own procedures for medical assessments and screening of inmates caused Simpson’s death. [Id. at 5-9.]

Defendants moved to dismiss the Complaint on August 13, 2014. [Dkt. 21.] Plaintiff filed the current motion to amend on September 29, 2014. [Dkt. 33.] Plaintiff asks to “remove Bartholomew County Jail, Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department, Bartholomew County Board of Commissioners, and personally name Bartholomew County Sheriff Mark E. Gorbett.” [Dkt. 33 at 1.] Thus, the proposed First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) names as defendants “Mark E. Gorbett individually and in his official capacity as Bartholomew Sheriff” and “Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Deputies Does 1-50, inclusive.” [Dkt. 33-1 at 1.] Plaintiff’s proposed FAC also dispenses with the negligence claim; instead, it asserts a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that Defendants exhibited deliberate indifference in violation of Simpson’s Eighth Amendment rights. [Dkt. 33-1 at 4.]

II. Legal Standard

A party may amend its complaint as a matter of right within 21 days “after service of a responsive pleading or 21 days after service of a motion under Rule 12(b), (e), or (f), whichever is earlier.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1). Defendants filed their Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b) on August 13, 2014. [Dkt. 21.] Plaintiff filed the current Motion to Amend on September 29, 2014, [Dkt. 33], outside of the 21-day window, and Defendants have not consented to Plaintiff’s amendment. Thus, Plaintiff may amend its 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 oppose the motion to amend only on the ground that the proposed amendment is futile. [See Dkt. 36.] An amendment is futile if the amended pleading would not survive a motion to dismiss.[1] 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). 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)). The party resisting the amendment bears 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).

III. Discussion

Defendants argue that the proposed FAC is futile because 1) the proposed FAC fails to state a claim “against any of the proposed defendants;” and 2) the plaintiff in the FAC is “not a legal entity capable of brining suit.” [Dkt. 36 at 1.]

A. Failure to State a Claim

Defendants argue that the proposed FAC is futile because it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. [Dkt. 36 at 2.] The proposed FAC includes as defendants Sheriff Mark Gorbett in his individual capacity; Sheriff Gorbett in his official capacity; and fifty unnamed Bartholomew County Sheriff’s deputies. [Dkt. 33-1 at 1.] Defendants assert that Plaintiff ...


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