United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER DENYING MOTION TO AMEND COMPLAINT
A. TSUCHIDA United States Magistrate Judge.
George Wood Jr. commenced this civil rights action pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on July 3, 2018. Mr. Wood now moves
to amend his complaint. Dkt. 67. Defendants oppose the
proposed amendment. Dkt. 68. The Court
DENIES the motion (Dkt. 67) because the
proposed amendment would cause undue prejudice to defendants
and, with respect to some claims, because plaintiff unduly
delayed in seeking to pursue these claims in this action.
of the claims alleged in Mr. Wood's current operative
complaint (the amended complaint, Dkt. 8) were previously
dismissed with prejudice by order dated August 28, 2019. Dkt.
10. The remaining claims in Mr. Wood's amended complaint
allege the following: (1) Mr. Wood's placement in
solitary confinement constitutes cruel and unusual
punishment; (2) the Jail's phone system does not allow
Mr. Wood to make any phone calls to his criminal defense
attorney; (3) defendants will not provide Mr. Wood with paper
and envelopes to communicate with his attorneys or to submit
complaints to the Washington Bar Association; and (4)
defendants have been deliberately indifferent to Mr.
Wood's mental health needs. Dkts. 8-10. The amended
complaint names the following defendants: Sgt. Young, Captain
Kevin Young, MHP Taylor, MHP Merkel, and Deputy Prosecuting
Attorney Mathew Baldock. Id.
motion to amend Mr. Wood attempts to add two new defendants:
Classification Supervisor Kimberly Parker, and Classification
Specialist Charles Mitchell. Dkt. 67. Specifically, Mr. Wood
asserts that Supervisor Parker retaliated against him for his
prior attempt to add her as a defendant in this action (which
was denied) by not allowing Mr. Wood to specifically request
assistance from one member of her staff, Alexis Wafstet, and
instead instructing another member of her staff, Specialist
Mitchell, to respond to Mr. Wood's requests. Id.
Mr. Wood also alleges Specialist Mitchell denied Mr. Wood
legal envelopes to “active practicing” attorneys;
failed to provide legal copies to Mr. Wood in a reasonable
time frame; kept his legal material for six hours before
returning them; and, instructed Mr. Wood to call his
investigator on his recreation time instead of calling the
investigator on Mr. Wood's behalf. Id.
Wood also alleges, generally, that he has only been allowed
one hour of recreation time and that his recreation time is
sometimes at night when it is cold outside. Id. He
also complains that because his recreation time is sometimes
at night he has fewer opportunities to call his defense
counsel. Id. Mr. Wood appears to allege defendant
Captain Young is responsible for these circumstances because
he sets the recreation schedule. Id.
point in the litigation Mr. Wood may no longer amend as a
matter of course and, as such, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
15(a), he “may amend [his] pleading only by leave of
the court or by written consent of the adverse party; and
leave shall be freely given when justice so requires.”
While this rule should be liberally interpreted, leave to
amend “is not to be granted automatically.”
Jackson v. Bank of Hawaii, 902 F.2d 1385, 1387 (9th
Cir. 1990). In determining whether to allow an amendment to a
complaint Courts consider the following factors: “the
presence or absence of undue delay, bad faith, dilatory
motive, undue prejudice to the opposing party, and futility
of the proposed amendment.” Moore v. Kayport
Package Express, Inc., 885 F.2d 531, 538 (9th Cir.
1989). “[I]t is the consideration of prejudice to the
opposing party that carries the greatest weight” when
determining whether leave to amend is appropriate.
Eminence Capital, LLC v. Aspeon, Inc., 316 F.3d
1048, 1052 (9th Cir. 2003).
the Court finds allowing Mr. Wood to amend his complaint
would cause undue prejudice to the defendants. Mr. Wood's
motion to amend seeks to add two new defendants and appears
to seek to add additional claims against defendant Captain
Young related to his recreation schedule. Dkt. 67. However,
discovery has already closed in this case and the current
defendants have now filed a motion for summary judgment. Dkt.
71. Allowing Mr. Wood to amend his complaint to add these new
defendants and claims would require additional discovery,
requiring the discovery period to be reopened, thereby
causing added time and expenses for the current defendants.
See Jackson, 902 F.2d at 1387; Acri v.
International Ass'n of Machinists & Aerospace
Workers, 781 F.2d 1393, 1398-99 (9th Cir. 1986)
(affirming denial of leave to amend and holding the district
court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that
allowing an amendment would prejudice the defendant because
of the necessity for further discovery); Priddy v.
Edelman, 883 F.2d 438, 447 (6th Cir. 1989)
(“Putting the defendants through the time and expense
of continued litigation on a new theory, with the possibility
of additional discovery, would be manifestly unfair and
unduly prejudicial.”) (internal quotation marks and
citations omitted) (cited by Jackson, 902 F.2d at
Mr. Wood seeks to add several new claims against new
defendants. Unrelated claims against different defendants
belong in different suits, not only to prevent the sort of
morass [a multiple claim, multiple defendant] suit
produce[s], but also to ensure that prisoners pay the
required filing fees-for the Prison Litigation Reform Act
limits to 3 the number of frivolous suits or appeals that any
prisoner may file without prepayment of the required fees. 28
U.S.C. § 1915(g).” George v. Smith, 507
F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007); see also Fed.R.Civ.P.
20(a) (2) (joinder of defendants not permitted unless both
commonality and same transaction requirements are satisfied).
Mr. Wood may not change the nature of this suit by alleging
new, unrelated claims in an amended complaint.
George, 507 F.3d at 607 (no “buckshot”
Court also notes that several of the claims Mr. Wood seeks to
add also fail to state a claim. For instance, Mr. Wood's
proposed amendment fails to state a retaliation claim against
Supervisor Parker. Within the prison context, a viable claim
of First Amendment retaliation entails five basic elements:
(1) An assertion that a state actor took some adverse action
against an inmate (2) because of (3) that prisoner's
protected conduct, and that such action (4) chilled the
inmate's exercise of his First Amendment rights, and (5)
the action did not reasonably advance a legitimate
correctional goal. Rhodes v. Robinson, 408 F.3d 559,
567-68 (9th Cir. 2005). “Mere speculation that
defendant acted out of retaliation is not sufficient.”
Wood v. Yordy, 753 F.3d 899, 905 (9th Cir. 2014).
Mr. Wood alleges no facts to indicate that Supervisor
Parker's actions, in assigning a different member of her
staff to respond to Mr. Wood's requests than Mr. Wood had
requested, were motivated by Mr. Wood's prior effort to
add her as a defendant in this action. Mr. Wood does not
allege or state facts to indicate that Supervisor Parker
directed Specialist Mitchell to be less responsive to Mr.
Wood's requests. Mr. Wood also does not allege the
absence of a legitimate penological reason for the
reassignment of staff. Mr. Wood's conclusory statements
that Supervisor Parker's actions were retaliatory are
insufficient to state a retaliation claim.
respect to Mr. Wood's additional allegations against
defendant Captain Young, the Court also finds amendment
should be denied due to Mr. Wood's undue delay.
“Relevant to evaluating the delay issue is whether the
moving party knew or should have known the facts and theories
raised by the amendment in the original pleading.”
Jackson, 902 F.2d at 1388. “Courts have [also]
found undue delay weighing against granting leave to amend
where a motion for leave to amend is filed near or after the
close of discovery.” Ewing v. Megrdle, 2015 WL
1519088, *4 (C.D. Cal. March 26, 2015) (summarizing Ninth
Circuit cases affirming denials of motions to amend due to
undue delay when the motions were filed near or after the
close of discovery).
Mr. Wood appears to indicate he had concerns about these
issues with his recreation time beginning in June of 2018,
prior to commencing this action. Dkt. 67, at 7. Mr. Wood
indicates he had some amelioration of the issue with respect
to contacting defense counsel on his recreation time in
October 2018, but that in January 2019, the issue resumed.
Id. It appears, based on Mr. Wood's proposed
amendment that he was aware of the additional issues he now
seeks to raise against defendant Captain Young when he
commenced this action. Even if the issues abated and resumed
to some extent in January 2019, Mr. Wood fails to explain why
he did not raise these additional claims in his prior motion
to amend the complaint (see Dkt. 40) or, at a
minimum, prior to the close of ...