United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR EXTENSION OF TIME, LEAVE TO
AMEND, AND MOTION FOR EARLY DISCOVERY; AND DENYING
DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS AS MOOT
Theresa L. Fricke, United States Magistrate Judge.
Matthew Gantt, proceeding pro se and in forma
pauperis, sues defendant Janet Rhoton pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983, and alleges that his federal
constitutional rights were violated by Ms. Rhoton at the
Pierce County Jail when he was denied necessary medical
treatment for schizophrenia. Plaintiff filed a motion for
leave to file an amended complaint. Dkt. 21. Plaintiff
requests leave to amend his complaint to add an unspecified
number of defendants (referred to as the potential
“Doe” defendants in this order) and include
additional facts of their involvement in the alleged rights
violation. Id. at 1-2. Plaintiff also requests sixty
days to research and “set forth the correct defendants
in [his] amended complaint.” Id. at 2.
addition, plaintiff has filed a motion to conduct early
discovery. Dkt. 14. Plaintiff subsequently filed a proposed
amended complaint after acquiring information about one of
the potential Doe defendants a person who allegedly failed to
provide him with medication for his mental illness. Dkt. 23.
Plaintiff has also filed a motion for temporary restraining
order or for preliminary injunctive relief, asserting that
his life is in danger. Dkt. 28. Yet the facts alleged in the
motion for temporary restraining order are newly alleged and
were not part of his complaint or proposed amended complaint.
Dkts. 4, 23.
motion to dismiss plaintiff's complaint for failure to
state a claim is concurrently pending before this Court. Dkt.
Court must freely grant a pro se plaintiff leave to
amend his complaint. Federal R. of Civ. P. 15(a); see
Sharkey v. O'Neal, 778 F.3d 767, 774 (9th Cir.
2015). Even so, leave to amend need not be granted
“where the amendment would be futile or where the
amended complaint would be subject to dismissal.”
Saul v. United States, 928 F.2d 829, 843 (9th Cir.
Court must dismiss the complaint of a prisoner proceeding
in forma pauperis “at any time if the [C]ourt
determines” that the action: (a) “is frivolous or
malicious”; (b) “fails to state a claim on which
relief may be granted”' or (c) “seeks
monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such
relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); 28 U.S.C. §
state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a complaint must
allege: (1) the conduct complained of was committed by a
person acting under color of state law, and (2) the conduct
deprived a person of a right, privilege, or immunity secured
by the Constitution or laws of the United States. Parratt
v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527, 535 (1981). Section 1983 is the
appropriate avenue to remedy an alleged wrong only if both of
these elements are present. Haygood v. Younger, 769
F.2d 1350, 1354 (9th Cir. 1985).
proposed amended complaint has abridged the facts previously
attested to by plaintiff and names as defendant only a single
individual of those whom plaintiff has asserted were
involved, according to prior filings. The Court, on examining
plaintiff's motions and proposed complaint, interprets
the combined pleadings and motions such that plaintiff is
requesting more time and discovery to find out who the
defendants are, so that he can properly identify them and
describe precisely what each defendant allegedly did, or
failed to do. Plaintiff alleges that he has a severe mental
illness, he was placed on suicide watch in a segregation
unit, which would make it difficult for him to acquire
information. Dkt. 19 at 2. The Court will therefore grant
plaintiff leave to amend his complaint, but the Court will
not accept the currently proposed amended complaint.
Court finds good cause and orders that the parties will be
allowed to conduct limited early discovery. This will allow
plaintiff to determine the identity of the persons that he
believes are potential defendants in his case, and to
determine any acts or omissions that those individuals may
have undertaken with respect to his claims, so that he may
file a more complete amended complaint-that would supersede
his original complaint-if such facts are discovered. See
Semitool, Inc. v. Tokyo Electron Am., Inc., 208 F.R.D.
273, 276 (N.D. Cal. 2002); ZG TOP Technology Co., Ltd. v.
Doe, No. C19-92-RAJ, 2019 WL 917418 (W.D. Wash. February
25, 2019) (good cause is shown where, considering the
administration of justice, the need for expedited discovery
outweighs prejudice to the party that is responding to the
discovery). “In evaluating whether a plaintiff
establishes good cause to learn the identity of Doe
defendants through early discovery, courts examine whether
the plaintiff (1) identifies the Doe defendant with
sufficient specificity that the Court can determine that the
defendant is a real person who can be sued in federal court,
(2) recounts the steps taken to locate and identify the
defendant, (3) demonstrates that the action can withstand a
motion to dismiss, and (4) proves that the discovery is
likely to lead to identifying information that will permit
service of process.” ZG TOP Technology Co., Ltd. v.
Doe; see also, Columbia Ins. Co. v. seescandy.com, 185
F.R.D. 573, 578-80 (N.D. Cal. 1999). These elements have been
exchange of early discovery will also assist the parties in
obtaining evidence for the Court to evaluate the
Defendant's contention that there is an issue of whether
plaintiff has exhausted administrative remedies. Dkt. 9 at
9-12, Dkts. 20, 24, 25, 26. Considering that plaintiff has
made a motion for temporary restraining order and preliminary
injunctive relief, it is in the best interest of the parties
to have this case resolved as soon as reasonably possible.
See Optic-Electronic Corp. v. U.S., 683 F.Supp. 269,
271 (D.D.C. 1987) (even though plaintiff had not met the
burden of proof for a temporary restraining order, the
allegations were serious and early discovery was warranted).
Without expedited discovery on the topics that pertain to
whether plaintiff has, or has not, received
constitutionally-required medical treatment, and whether
there are grounds for injunctive relief, as well as issues
pertaining to the affirmative defense of failure to exhaust
administrative remedies, neither party has the ability to
present contentions to the Court, nor does the Court have
sufficient information to evaluate the parties' claims at
this early stage of the litigation. See generally,
Earthbound Vorp. V. MiTek USA, Inc., C16-1150RSM, 2016
WL 4418013 at *11 (W.D. Wash. August 19, 2016) (in the
context of a motion for temporary restraining order and for
preliminary injunction, expedited discovery would be
is directed to file an amended complaint on or before
December 2, 2019, which shall include all of plaintiff's
claims against all intended defendants, including
“Doe” or unnamed defendants, all the facts
connecting defendants' conduct to plaintiff's medical
claim, and any other relevant facts or allegations of
violations of plaintiff's constitutional rights. It must
be legibly rewritten or retyped in its entirety and contain
the same case number. The proposed complaint must be
self-contained or incorporate any externally alleged facts by
reference; any cause of action alleged in the original
complaint that is not alleged in the amended complaint is
waived. Forsyth v. Humana, Inc., 114 F.3d 1467, 1474
(9th Cir. 1997), overruled in part on other grounds,
Lacey v. Maricopa Cnty., 693 F.3d 896 (9th Cir.
Court will screen the amended complaint to determine whether
it states a claim for relief cognizable under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. If the amended complaint is not timely filed or
fails to adequately address the issues raised herein, the
undersigned will recommend dismissal of this action as
frivolous under 28 U.S.C. § 1915, and the dismissal will
count as a “strike” under 28 U.S.C. §
1915(g). Plaintiff should be aware that a prisoner who brings
three or more civil actions or appeals that are dismissed on
the grounds that they are legally frivolous, malicious, or
fail to state a claim, will be precluded from bringing any
other civil action or appeal in forma pauperis,
“unless the prisoner is under imminent danger of
serious physical injury.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g).
Court grants plaintiff's motion for
leave to amend his complaint, grants the
plaintiff's request to conduct limited early discovery,
and consequently defendant's motion to dismiss for
failure to state a claim is denied as moot.
parties are directed to meet and confer within 14 days of
service of this order, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(f) and
Western District of Washington Local Rule (LCR) 16 (a), (c)
to agree upon an expedited, narrowly tailored process for
exchanging early discovery. The parties shall report to the
Court the results of their conference during a telephonic
hearing to be scheduled by the Court in a separate order.
During this conference, the parties shall provide the Court
with the status of plaintiff's custody - to inform ...