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Silva v. Ekis

United States District Court, D. Kansas

November 14, 2017

CARLOS SILVA, Plaintiff,
v.
RON EKIS, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          K. Gary Sebelius U.S. Magistrate Judge.

         This matter comes before the court upon Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File a Second Amended Complaint (ECF No. 83). Defendant Ron Ekis opposes the motion. For the reasons stated below, the motion is granted.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff filed this lawsuit pro se on January 12, 2015, asserting claims stemming from his arrest on January 20, 2013. Among others, plaintiff named “Jane Doe and John Doe(s) in their individual and official capacities.”[1] Defense counsel filed an answer to the complaint on behalf of Topeka Police Sergeant Ron Ekis, another codefendant who has since been dismissed, and the Topeka police officer Doe defendants in their official capacities on April 3, 2015.[2]

         Five months after filing this case, the court appointed counsel to represent plaintiff. Plaintiff filed his First Amended Complaint on March 16, 2016.[3] That pleading names as defendants Ron Ekis and an unspecified number of “John/Jane Does.”[4] Plaintiff now seeks leave to amend to formally name the Doe defendants, all of whom are Topeka Police Department officers.

         II. Discussion

         When leave of the court is required to amend under Rule 15(a), the court may refuse leave “only [upon] a showing of undue delay, undue prejudice to the opposing party, bad faith or dilatory motive, failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, or futility of amendment.”[5] “The court should freely give leave when justice so requires.”[6] In this case, defendant opposes the motion to amend on the basis of futility. A “proposed amended complaint is futile if the complaint, as amended, would be subject to dismissal.”[7] As the party opposing amendment, defendant bears the burden of establishing its futility.[8] Defendant argues that the proposed claims are barred by the statute of limitations. Neither side disputes that the 28 U.S.C. § 1983 claims and the state law intentional-infliction-of-emotional-distress claim would be barred by the two-year statute of limitations if the claims do not relate back to the date of filing of this case. The parties do, however, dispute whether the proposed claims relate back.

         This district recently addressed a party's standing to oppose a motion to amend on the basis of futility when the proposed claims were to be asserted against other defendants. The court found that “[c]urrent parties unaffected by a proposed amendment do not have standing to assert claims of futility on behalf of proposed defendants.”[9] Rather, a current party may only challenge a proposed amendment directed at other parties to the extent that the party opposing the amendment is affected-for example through undue delay or undue prejudice.[10] Because defendant lacks standing to assert a futility argument on behalf of the proposed defendants, the court cannot bar the proposed amended pleading on this basis.

         Even considering the merits of defendant's argument, the court would still reach the same conclusion that the motion to amend should be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(c) governs when an amended pleading relates back to the date of a timely filed pleading. When an amended pleading changes the party or the naming of a party against whom a claim is asserted the amended pleading relates back if:

Rule 15(c)(1)(B) is satisfied and if, within the period provided by Rule 4(m) for serving the summons and complaint, the party to be brought in by amendment:
(i) received such notice of the action that it will not be prejudiced in defending on the merits; and
(ii) knew or should have known that the action would have been brought against it, but for a mistake concerning the proper party's identity.”[11]

         Rule 15(c)(1)(B) requires that the amendments assert a claim or defense that arises out of the same conduct, transaction, or occurrence set out in the original pleading, and Rule 4(m) provides a 90-day period of time for service after a case is filed. At the time plaintiff filed this action, Rule 4(m) provided for a 120-day period of time for service.

         Defendant, as the party bearing the burden of establishing futility, does not address whether the proposed amendments arise out of the same conduct, transaction, or occurrence set out in the complaint; whether the proposed defendants would be prejudiced by defending on the merits; or whether the proposed defendants knew or should have known that the action would have been brought against them, but for a mistake concerning the proper party's identity. Because the parties have not briefed the other requirements of Rule 15(c), the court will not address these issues here and takes no position as to whether these elements ...


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