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Thomas B. Simcoe v. Lieutenant Timothy Gray

March 28, 2012

THOMAS B. SIMCOE, PLAINTIFF(S),
v.
LIEUTENANT TIMOTHY GRAY, NTPD, OFFICER JEFFREY SMITH, NTPD AND OFFICER KEITH GLASS, NTPD, DEFENDANT(S).



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jonathan W. Feldman United States Magistrate Judge

DECISION AND ORDER

Preliminary Statement

Pro se plaintiff brings this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action against defendants on grounds, inter alia, that defendants used excessive force against him in violation of his constitutional rights. See Complaint (Docket # 1). Currently pending before the Court are plaintiff's motions to amend Complaint (Docket # 26), to compel (Docket # 41) for contempt (Docket # 46) and to appoint counsel (Docket # 50), and defendants' motion to compel (Docket # 57).

Discussion

I. Plaintiff's Motion to Amend Complaint

Plaintiff filed his original Complaint on September 17, 2010, asserting that on September 29, 2007, defendants Gray, Smith and Glass, all of whom are police officers with the North Tonawanda Police Department, violated his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights by using excessive force against him in connection with his arrest on that date. See Complaint (Docket # 1). The defendants were served by the United States Marshal and answered plaintiff's Complaint on December 29, 2010. See Answer (Docket # 9).

On May 2, 2011, plaintiff filed the instant motion to amend. In his motion plaintiff seeks to add two new defendants: The City of North Tonowanda ("City") and Randy Szukala, the City's Chief of Police. As to Chief Szukala, Simcoe seeks to add a cause of action alleging Szukala failed to train, supervise and discipline his subordinates, failed to address or correct unconstitutional practices he was aware of, and for failure to investigate plaintiff's complaint against the defendant officers. (Docket # 26). Plaintiff further alleges that Szukala "had actual knowledge of prior excessive force abuses by the subordinates, failed to address or correct these unconstitutional practices and in fact acquiesced to the use of police brutality." Id. As to the City, Simcoe seeks to add a cause of action alleging that the City has "a custom and or policy" of deliberate indifference to constitutional violations, and there exists "a causal connection between the [City's] deliberate indifference and excessive force by the police." Id. Although plaintiff failed to attach a copy of a proposed Amended Complaint to his May 2nd motion papers, plaintiff filed his proposed Amended Complaint with his Reply in further support of his motion to amend on July 5, 2011. See Proposed Amended Complaint attached to Docket # 34.

"A district court has broad discretion in determining whether to grant leave to amend." Gurary v. Winehouse, 235 F.3d 792, 801 (2d Cir. 2000). Pursuant to Rule 15(a)(2), leave to amend a pleading should be freely granted, absent a showing of "excessive delay, prejudice to the opposing party, or futility." Friedl v. City of N.Y., 210 F.3d 79, 87 (2d Cir. 2000); Lucente v. Int'l Machs. Bus. Corp., 310 F.3d 243, 258 (2d Cir. 2002). A proposed amendment would be futile if it could not withstand a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss and/or where the claim is barred by the applicable statute of limitations period. See Grace v. Rosenstock, 228 F.3d 40, 53 (2d Cir. 2000); McKinney v. Eastman Kodak Co., 975 F. Supp. 462, 465 (W.D.N.Y. 1997). Here, the proposed amendments will be deemed futile if they are time barred.

"Relation Back" and the Statute of Limitations: Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure ("FRCP"), an amended Complaint adding a new party will "relate back" to the filing of the original Complaint for statute of limitations purposes only if certain conditions are met. FRCP Rule 15(c) is entitled "Relation Back of Amendments" and provides that an "amendment to a pleading relates back to the date of the original pleading when":

(A) the law that provides the applicable statute of limitations allows relation back;

(B) the amendment asserts a claim or defense that arose out of the conduct, transaction, or occurrence set out-or attempted to be set out-in the original pleading; or

(C) the amendment changes the party or the naming of the party against whom a claim is asserted, 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 ...


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