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Anderson v. City of Mount Vernon

United States District Court, S.D. New York

March 28, 2014

MICHAEL ANDERSON, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF MOUNT VERNON and POLICE OFFICER SEAN BLUTE, Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER

EDGARDO RAMOS, District Judge.

Michael Anderson ("Anderson" or "Plaintiff") brings this action against the City of Mount Vernon (the "City") and Police Officer Sean Blute ("Officer Blute") (collectively, "Defendants"), stating claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1988, alleging violations of his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights as a result of Defendants' alleged use of excessive force, and alleging violations of New York common law in connection with Plaintiff's arrest on August 30, 2008. Dkt. No. 20 ¶ 1 ("Am. Compl."). Presently before the Court are Plaintiff's Objections to the Report and Recommendation ("Report"), issued by the Honorable Paul E. Davison, United States Magistrate Judge, recommending that Plaintiff's motion to amend the complaint be denied. Dkt. No. 51 ("Report").

I. Factual and Procedural Background

Plaintiff initially filed his complaint in New York Supreme Court, Westchester County, on July 7, 2009, against the City and Mount Vernon Police Officer John Doe. Dkt. No. 1 at 7-17 ("Compl."). Plaintiff alleged that on August 30, 2008, he was "confronted, beaten, and arrested" by the John Doe defendant upon exiting a night club in Mount Vernon. Id. ¶ 12, at 9. On August 11, 2009, the City removed the case to this Court. Dkt. No. 1 at 1-3 (Notice of Removal).

On January 6, 2011, following the completion of discovery, the City moved for summary judgment. Dkt. Nos. 14, 16. Plaintiff cross-moved to amend the Complaint to name Officer Blute in place of the "John Doe" defendant. Dkt. No. 17. The Honorable Cathy Seibel, to whom this case was then assigned, granted Plaintiff's motion, Dkt. No. 19, and on December 16, 2011, Plaintiff filed the First Amended Complaint naming Officer Blute as a Defendant. Am. Compl. The case was subsequently reassigned to the undersigned on January 5, 2012. Dkt. No. 23.

Thereafter, on June 19, 2012, Plaintiff sought leave to conduct additional discovery to depose all of the officers on the scene at the time of Plaintiff's arrest in order to investigate whether Sergeant Michael Marcucilli ("Sergeant Marcucilli") - rather than Officer Blute - was actually the officer who assaulted Plaintiff. Dkt. Nos. 31, 32. Defendants opposed the motion, and on December 14, 2012, this Court denied Plaintiff's request for additional discovery. Dkt. No. 38 at 5.

Subsequently, by motion dated April 12, 2013, Plaintiff moved to file a Second Amended Complaint to add Sergeant Marcucilli as a defendant. Dkt. No. 44. Defendants opposed the motion, Dkt. No. 48, and the Court referred the issue to the Judge Davison. Dkt. No. 36. On May 8, 2013, Judge Davison issued the Report, recommending that Plaintiff's instant motion to amend be denied. Report at 1. Plaintiff filed his Objections to the Report on May 22, 2013, Dkt. No. 54 ("Pl.'s Objections"), and Defendants responded on June 5, 2013, Dkt. No. 55.

II. Standard of Review

A district court reviewing a magistrate judge's report and recommendation "may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). Parties may raise "specific, " "written" objections to the report and recommendation "[w]ithin fourteen days after being served with a copy." Id .; see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2). A district court reviews de novo those portions of the report and recommendation to which timely and specific objections are made. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C); see also United States v. Male Juvenile (95-CR-1074), 121 F.3d 34, 38 (2d Cir. 1997). The district court may adopt those parts of the report and recommendation to which no party has timely objected, provided no clear error is apparent from the face of the record. Lewis v. Zon, 573 F.Supp.2d 804, 811 (S.D.N.Y. 2008) (quoting Arthur v. Goord, No. 06 Civ. 326(DLC), 2008 WL 482866, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 21, 2008)). The district court will also review the report and recommendation for clear error where a party's objections are "merely perfunctory responses" argued in an attempt to "engage the district court in a rehashing of the same arguments set forth in the original petition." Ortiz v. Barkley, 558 F.Supp.2d 444, 451 (S.D.N.Y. 2008) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted).

III. Plaintiff's Objections

a. Background

Plaintiff states claims pursuant to § 1983, as well as state law claims for assault and battery, false arrest, false imprisonment, and malicious prosecution. Am. Compl. ¶ 1. Plaintiff's § 1983 claim is governed by New York's three-year statute of limitations for personal injury actions, see Owens v. Okure, 488 U.S. 235, 250-51 (1989), and his state law claims are governed by New York's one-year statute of limitations for intentional torts. N.Y. C.P.L.R. 215(3) (McKinney 2013). As Judge Davison concluded, and as both parties concede, the statute of limitations "had expired on all of Plaintiff's potential claims against Sergeant Marcucilli before... Plaintiff sought leave to amend the complaint." Report at 7 n.2; Pl.'s Mem. L. (Dkt. No. 47) at 6-9; Defs.' Mem. L. Opp. (Dkt. No. 49) at 3. Accordingly, the issue presented by the instant motion is whether Plaintiff may amend his complaint to add Sergeant Marcucilli as a defendant after the statute of limitations had run on the claims stated in the original complaint.

Leave to amend "shall be freely given when justice so requires." Fed. R. Civ. P 15(a)(2). Nevertheless, a court may appropriately deny a motion to amend where the party opposing the motion has demonstrated evidence of "undue delay, bad faith, undue prejudice to the non-movant, or futility." Milanese v. Rust-Oleum Corp., 244 F.3d 104, 110 (2d Cir. 2001). An amendment seeking to add a new party after the statute of limitations has expired is "futile" unless the amendment "relates back to the date of the original pleading." Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(c)(1).

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(c)(1)(A), Fed.R.Civ.P. 15 advisory committee's note to 1991 amendment, if the applicable statute of limitations is determined by state law - as is the case here - courts should assess both the state and federal relation back doctrines and apply whichever law is more generous. See Wilson v. City of New York, No. 03 Civ. 2495 ...


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