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Graham v. Bassham

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma

May 10, 2017

JOSHUA GRAHAM, Plaintiff,
v.
D BASSHAM, et al., Defendant.

          ORDER

          J. Richard Creatura, United States Magistrate Judge

         Plaintiff Joshua Graham filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action on August 1, 2016 alleging that defendants Bassham, Robinson, Gantz, and Rodkey failed to provide plaintiff with adequate dental care at the Washington State Penitentiary (“WSP”) from July 2013 to November 2013. Dkt. 5. Plaintiff now moves to amend his complaint to add ten new defendants, Kevin Bovenkamp, G. Steven Hammond, Karen Forss, Mary Currey, Lori Scamahorn, Lori Wyckoff-Myers, Wolfgang Radelfinger, Lynnette Cross, and Angela Brascum. Dkt. 31; Dkt. 31-1; Dkt. 31-2; Dkt. 31-3. Defendants object to the amendment on the grounds that the proposed claims are barred by the statute of limitations and do not relate back to the filing of plaintiff's original complaint. Dkt. 33.

         Plaintiff's motion is granted in part and denied in part. Plaintiff's proposed amendment with respect to his claims against Bovenkamp, Hammond, Forss, Currey, Scamahorn, Wyckoff-Myers, Radelfinger, Cross, and Branscum is denied because his proposed claims are subject to dismissal based on the statute of limitations and do not relate back to the filing of the original complaint. Defendants have no objection to plaintiff's proposed amendment with respect to defendant Escapule, thus, plaintiff's motion is granted as to this claim. Plaintiff must file his proposed amended complaint including claims against defendant Escapule within 15 days of the entry of this order.

         DISCUSSION

         Rule 15 governs amendments to pleadings. It provides that, after an initial period for amendments as of right, pleadings may be amended only with the opposing party's written consent or by leave of the court. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a). Generally, “the court should freely give leave [to amend pleadings] when justice so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). This rule should be interpreted and applied with “extreme liberality.” Morongo Band of Mission Indians v. Rose, 893 F.2d 1074, 1079 (9th Cir.1990). Federal policy favors freely allowing amendment so that cases may be decided on their merits. See Martinez v. Newport Beach City, 125 F.3d 777, 785 (9th Cir.1997).

         The court ordinarily considers five factors when determining whether to grant leave to amend under Rule 15: “(1) bad faith, (2) undue delay, (3) prejudice to the opposing party, (4) futility of amendment, ” and (5) whether the pleadings have previously been amended. Allen v. City of Beverly Hills, 911 F.2d 367, 373 (9th Cir.1990). “However, each is not given equal weight. Futility of amendment can, by itself, justify the denial of a motion for leave to amend.” Bonin v. Calderon, 59 F.3d 815, 845 (9th Cir. 1995). If a proposed amendment could not withstand a motion to dismiss, a court is justified in denying a motion to amend the pleadings made pursuant to Rule 15(a). Jones v. Community Redevelopment Agency of City of Los Angeles, 733 F.2d 646, 650-51 (9th Cir. 1984).

         In his motion, plaintiff contends that since the filing of his original complaint, through the discovery process, he has discovered the names of the Jane/John Doe defendants. Dkt. 31. Plaintiff attached his proposed amended complaint to his motion. Dkt. 31-1.

         Defendants do not object to plaintiff's motion to add claims against Edith Escapule. Dkt. 33. Thus, plaintiff's request as to defendant Escapule is granted. Plaintiff must file his proposed amended complaint including claims against defendant Escapule within 15 days of the entry of this order.

         With respect to the remaining nine defendants, Bovenkamp, Hammond, Forss, Currey, Scamahorn Wyckoff-Myers, Radelfinger, Cross, and Brascum, defendants contend that granting plaintiff leave to amend to add claims against would be futile because the claims are barred by the statute of limitations and do not relate back to the filing of plaintiff's original complaint. Id.

         In his original complaint, plaintiff describes the Doe defendants, “Defendants John Does 1-3; and Jane Does 1-3 are employees or subcontactors working for WDOC during all times relevant to complaint. They will be named after discovery. They are sued in their individual capacity.” Dkt. 5 at 4. Plaintiff alleges John/Jane Doe 1 emailed plaintiff and denied any knowledge of plaintiff's fractured jaw. Id. at 6. Plaintiff alleges John/Jane Doe 2 (Health Care Manager), knew of plaintiff's lack of treatment, said that they would look into the matter, but failed to take action. Dkt. 5 at 6. Plaintiff alleges that Jane Doe 3, a dental assistant, assisted defendant Rodkey with his dental visit on November 5, 2013. Id. at 8-9.

         1. Statute of Limitations

         For claims brought under § 1983, federal courts apply the forum state's three year statute of limitations governing personal injury actions. See Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S. 261, 279-80 (1985) and RCW 4.16.080(2). However, the accrual date of a § 1983 cause of action is an issue of federal law. Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 388 (2007).

Turning to the principles of accrual, ‘it is the standard rule that accrual occurs when the plaintiff has a complete and present cause of action.' Wallace, 549 U.S. at 388, 127 S.Ct. 1091 (internal alterations and quotation marks omitted. In other words, a claim accrues when the plaintiff knows or has reason to know of the injury that ...

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