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DAVID v. G.M.D.C.

March 17, 2003

LENNOX DAVID, A/K/A RENWICK WILLIAMS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
G.M.D.C., CAPT. SANTIAGO #840, CAPT. GONG #1376, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sweet, District Judge

OPINION

Plaintiff pro se Lennox David a/k/a Renwick Williams ("David"), who is incarcerated, has moved pursuant to Rule 15(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for leave to amend his complaint to add the City of New York (the "City") as a defendant in addition to the currently named defendants — Captain Santiago, #840 ("Santiago") and Captain Gong, #1376 ("Gong") — in this action alleging a single instance of excessive force in contravention of 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

For the following reasons, that motion is denied, with leave to renew within twenty (20) days of the issuance of this opinion.

Prior Proceedings

On July 27, 2001, David commenced this action against the George Motchan Detention Center ("GMDC"), Santiago and Gong (then erroneously listed as "Chong"), alleging that Santiago and Gong engaged in a single instance of excessive force against him on September 14, 2002.

Following the close of pretrial discovery, the defendants moved for judgment on the pleadings, seeking dismissal of the claim against GMDC on the grounds that it is not a suable entity under 396 of the New York City Charter, and of defendant Gong on the grounds that he had not been served in accordance with the requirements of Rule 4(m) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

On December 6, 2002, that motion was granted in part and denied in part, and GMDC was dismissed from the action. David v. GMDC, No. 01 Civ. 6931, 2002 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23733, at *8 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 11, 2002). David was given more time to serve Gong in light of his pro se and incarcerated status. At that time, the Court indicated that David could move to amend his complaint to name the City of New York "if [he] believes in good faith that he can allege" a proper basis for municipal liability. Id. at *12.

David served a copy of a proposed amended complaint on the defendants on December 19, 2002, and on January 7, 2002, moved to amend the complaint to add the City of New York as a defendant. The defendants replied on January 24, 2003, and David sent in a response dated January 27, 2003. The motion was considered fully submitted on February 5, 2003.

Discussion

I. Standard of Review

Rule 15(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that the district court should freely grant leave to amend the pleadings. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a). The amendment should be permitted absent evidence of circumstances such as undue delay or bad faith, undue prejudice to the opposing party or futility. Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962); see also Jones v. New York State Div. of Military and Naval Affairs, 166 F.3d 45, 50 (2d Cir. 1999) (affirming district court's denial of leave to amend due to futility of amendment).

In addressing the present motion, the Court is mindful that the plaintiff is proceeding pro se and that his submissions should be held "`to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. . . .'" Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9, 101 S.Ct. 173, 176 (1980) (per curiam) (quoting Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520, 92 S.Ct. 594, 595 (1972)); see also Ferran v. Town of Nassau, 11 F.3d 21, 22 (2d Cir. 1993). Nevertheless, pro se status "`does not exempt a party from compliance with relevant rules of procedural and substantive law." Traguth v. Zuck, 710 F.2d 90, 95 (2d Cir. 1983) (quotations omitted).

II. Municipal Liability

To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a complaint must aver that a person acting under color of state law committed acts that deprived the plaintiff of a right, privilege, or immunity secured by the Constitution or the laws of the United States. Parratt v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527, 535 (1984). In order to hold a municipality liable as a "person" within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the plaintiff must establish that the municipality was at fault for the constitutional injury he suffered. Oklahoma City v. Tuttle, 471 U.S. 808, 810 (1985); Monell v. Dep't of Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 690-91 (1978), in that the violation of the ...


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