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Brown v. Truelove

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division

May 9, 2019

JEFFREY BROWN, Plaintiff,
v.
WANDA TRUELOVE, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          Susan Collins United States Magistrate Judge.

         Before the Court are two motions filed by Plaintiff Jeffrey Brown: one seeking an extension of time to amend his complaint[1] (DE 88), and one seeking leave to file an amended complaint (DE 90). Defendant Vicki Halsell filed responses to both motions (DE 89; DE 91), and Brown did not file a reply to either motion, and his time to do so has passed. N.D. Ind. L.R. 7-1(d)(2)(B). For the reasons discussed below, Brown's motions will be denied.

         A. Background

         Brown filed the initial complaint in this case on September 21, 2016, alleging claims for violations of his constitutional rights arising under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (DE 1). On November 18, 2016, Brown filed his first amended complaint. (DE 16; DE 30). On January 31, 2017, Brown filed his second amended complaint, adding Halsell as a defendant. (DE 34; DE 38).

         The deadline for Brown to seek leave to amend his pleadings passed on January 11, 2019. (DE 75; DE 77). Ten days after that deadline, on January 21, 2019, Halsell filed a motion to dismiss Brown's second amended complaint. (DE 82). The Court granted Brown two extensions of time to respond to Halsell's motion to dismiss. (DE 84-DE 87). On February 22, 2019, Brown filed a motion titled “Plaintiff's Third Request for an Extension of Time to Respond to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss.” (DE 88). Despite the title of the motion, it actually requested an extension of time to file a third amended complaint that would address “many, if not all of the deficiencies cited in the Motion to Dismiss filed by Vicki Halsell.” (DE 88 at 1).

         Halsell filed an objection to Brown's motion. (DE 89). Brown did not file a reply, and instead filed a motion seeking leave to file a third amended complaint. (DE 90). Halsell filed a response objecting to Brown's motion to amend. (DE 91). Again, Brown did not file a reply.

         B. Complaint Allegations[2]

         In Brown's second amended complaint, he alleges that Halsell, among others, forced him to register as a sex offender, although he was not legally required to do so, resulting in Brown being maliciously prosecuted in violation of his constitutional rights. (DE 38 ¶ 5; see also DE 1 ¶¶ 4-5). Specifically, paragraph 5 of the second amended complaint alleges that Halsell (and Defendant April Wilburn) forced Brown to register as a sex offender, resulting in Brown being incarcerated. (DE 38 ¶ 5). Subsequently, in paragraph 19, Brown states that “all Defendants are liable to [Brown] for maliciously prosecuting him under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment . . .” (DE 38 ¶ 19). Paragraph 20 alleges that “[a]ll Defendants instituted or caused to be instituted a cause of action against [Brown], ” and otherwise “acted maliciously against him.” (DE 38 ¶ 20).

         In the proposed third amended complaint, Brown alleges that Halsell (and Wilburn) set Brown up “for false arrest and malicious prosecution . . . by their reckless and intentional actions . . . which resulted in [Brown] being maliciously prosecuted and falsely arrested for the false crime of failing to register as a sex offender . . . .” (DE 90-1 ¶ 5(b)). Additionally, in paragraph 5(c) Brown alleges that Halsell (and Wilburn) “acted in concert with other state actors such that their actions, in combination with other state actors constitute a conspiracy . . . [to] subject [Brown] to false arrest and malicious prosecution contrary to the provisions of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and § 1985.” (DE 90-1 ¶ 5(c)).

         In summary, the proposed third amended complaint differs from the second amended complaint with respect to Halsell in two ways: (1) it adds a claim for false arrest against Halsell; and (2) it asserts that Halsell engaged in a civil conspiracy to subject Brown to false arrest and malicious prosecution under sections 1983 and 1985.

         C. Discussion

         1. Rule 16

         “[T]he decision to grant or deny a motion to file an amended pleading is a matter purely within the sound discretion of the district court.” Soltys v. Costello, 520 F.3d 737, 743 (7th Cir. 2008) (alteration in original) (citation omitted). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a) dictates that the Court “should freely give leave [to amend] when justice so requires.” See also Bethany Pharmacal Co. v. QVC, Inc., 241 F.3d 854, 860-61 (7th Cir. 2001) (citations omitted); see Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962).

         “However, the rule is in some tension with the rule that governs scheduling orders, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16.” Alioto v. Town of Lisbon, 651 F.3d 715, 719 (7th Cir. 2011). Under Rule 16, district courts are generally required to issue scheduling orders that set a deadline for filing amended pleadings. Id. (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(3)(A)). When a party fails to file a motion seeking leave to amend before the deadline set by the district court, the court is “entitled to apply the heightened good-cause standard of Rule 16(b)(4) before considering whether the requirements of Rule 15(a)(2) [are] satisfied.” Id.; see also Adams v. City of Indianapolis, 742 F.3d 720, 734 (7th Cir. 2014) (noting that district courts typically conduct a “two-step fashion[ed]” analysis in analyzing a belated motion seeking leave to amend a complaint”). Rule 16 provides that a “scheduling order may be modified only for good cause and with the judge's consent.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(4). The Court's primary consideration in making the good-cause determination is the diligence of the party seeking amendment. See DR Distributors, LLC v. 21 ...


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