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Roland v. McMonagle

United States District Court, S.D. New York

June 24, 2014



J. PAUL OETKEN, District Judge.

Thomas M. Roland III brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that he was physically assaulted and forcibly medicated in violation of his First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Roland has moved to amend the complaint to substitute Defendant Correctional Officers ("COs") Michael Weir and Michael Barkley with COs Joseph Horos and Michael McCooey. For the reasons that follow, his motion is granted.

I. Background

A. Factual Background[1]

Roland is currently incarcerated by the New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision ("DOCCS") at the Wende Correctional Facility in Alden, New York. This case arises out of events that took place on September 20, 2009, during his incarceration at the Sullivan Correctional Facility in Fallsburg, New York ("Sullivan"). Around 6:45 p.m., Roland was escorted by Sergeant Daniel McMonagle and COs Jed Saul and Justin Taft from his cell to a tier hearing room to provide a urine sample. When he stated that he could not urinate, the officers and a mental health nurse forcibly administered psychotropic medication to assist. After producing a sample, Roland was taken by the three officers, along with two additional COs, to an unmonitored cell where he was beaten, called racial slurs, and mocked for filing grievances.

Four days later, Roland was transferred to the Central New York Psychiatric Center, purportedly in order to cover up the incident. When he arrived, he told staff about the attack and his injuries. On September 28, 2009, Mental Health Chief Susan Smith sent a memorandum to Sullivan Superintendent James Walsh, which spawned an investigation. The officers involved were immediately identified as McMonagle, Saul, Taft, and COs Joseph Horos and Michael McCooey. Each was required to draft a memorandum responding to the allegations. As a result of its investigation, DOCCS concluded that there had been no wrongdoing on the part of the officers and informed Roland of its determination. At no point, however, was Roland told the officers' names.

B. Procedural Background

Roland initiated an action pro se on December 1, 2010, naming as defendants Smith, Walsh, Dr. Donald Sawyer, and several John and Jane Doe officials. Roland v. Smith, No. 10 Civ. 9218 (VM) (S.D.N.Y.). On February 22, 2012, Judge Marrero granted Smith, Walsh, and Sawyer's motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, and dismissed the claims against the unidentified officials for failure to effect service in a timely manner. Smith, 907 F.Supp.2d 385 (S.D.N.Y. 2012). Roland appealed on April 13, 2012. ( Smith, Dkt. No. 50.) On July 31, 2012, he submitted a request pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act for records relating to the incident. (Dkt. No. 17.) The documents he received in response included the names of some of the officers involved, as well as some who were not involved, and did not include the investigation memoranda.

Equipped with this new information, Roland initiated this action pro se on August 16, 2012, naming as defendants Smith, Walsh, Sawyer, "McMayle, " and COs Taft, Saul, Weir, Barkley, "Beny, " and "Linterman." (Dkt. No. 2.) On October 18, 2012, the Court dismissed the claims against Sawyer and issued a Valentin order as to the officers. (Dkt. No. 6.) By letter dated November 9, 2012, the AG's office-through the Deputy Bureau Chief of the New York Litigation Bureau-informed the Court that it had received the Valentin order on November 5 and learned about the DOCCS investigation and its determination that Roland's claims were unsubstantiated. (Dkt. No. 13.)

On December 10, 2012, Magistrate Judge Fox granted Roland's motion to seek pro bono counsel. (Dkt. No. 23.) Service was effected on Saul and Weir in early February 2013, but was returned unexecuted as to the remaining defendants. (Dkt. Nos. 29-35.) Counsel commenced representation of Roland on March 25, 2013, and subsequently negotiated an agreement with the AG's office to withdraw the appeal in Smith and limit the claims in this action to the five officers involved in exchange for the AG's promise not to assert a res judicata defense. (Dkt No. 41; Dkt. No. 84 ("Schachter Decl.") ¶ 7, Ex. E.) On May 3, 2013, the Court granted Roland's request to extend the time to effect service upon the remaining defendants until August 23, 2013. (Dkt. No. 49.) On May 29, 2013, Saul answered and Weir moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim. (Dkt. Nos. 51 & 52.) Roland, now counseled, filed an amended complaint on July 18, 2013, which attempted to cure the purported defects and removed certain defendants in accordance with his agreement with the AG. (Dkt. No. 58.) All defendants answered in July 2013. (Dkts. No. 62 & 63.)

The parties conferred through counsel on September 27, 2013 and exchanged initial disclosures shortly thereafter. Defendants' initial disclosures identified ten individuals or groups of individuals likely to have discoverable information, including the five named defendants, Roland's current primary physicians, medical staff who treated Roland for his injuries, the individuals listed in Roland's disclosures, and Horos and McCooey. (Dkt. No. 82 ("Lee Decl."), Ex. A at 2.) The disclosures did not indicate the subject matter of the discoverable information for each individual or group as required under Rule 26. An initial pretrial conference was held before Judge Fox on October 24, 2013, and a scheduling order was issued the next day. (Dkt. Nos. 67 & 68.) Pursuant to the order, the last day to amend the pleadings was November 25, 2013 and discovery was to be completed by April 24, 2014. (Dkt. No. 68.) Roland served interrogatories and first requests for production on Defendants on November 27, 2013. In response to the first interrogatory-"Identify all persons known to you who have knowledge of any facts or circumstances relevant to the incident"-none of the Defendants identified Horos or McCooey. (Lee Decl., Ex. B at 4.)

Defendants made their first production on December 24, 2013, which consisted of approximately two thousand hand-written or otherwise illegible medical documents. A second production was made on January 15, 2014, consisting of similarly illegible time sheets. On February 25, 2014, the AG's office-through Julia Lee of the Department of Law Litigation- contacted Roland's counsel to ask whether they had reviewed the second production, which showed that Weir and Barkley were not at Sullivan on September 20, 2009. Roland's counsel consequently postponed depositions of Weir and Barkley until they completed their review of all documents. A third production of approximately 180 pages was made on February 27, 2014, which included the investigation memoranda and thus clearly identified Horos and McCooey. After reviewing this production in early March, Roland sought consent from Defendants to amend his complaint, which was refused. He filed the instant motion on March 26, 2014. (Dkt. No. 79.)

II. Legal Standards

A party may amend a pleading once as a matter of course within 21 days of service of either a responsive pleading or certain specified motions. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1). Otherwise, amendment is permitted only upon consent of the opposing party or leave of court. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). Absent undue delay, bad faith, repeated failure to cure deficiencies, undue prejudice, or futility, "the leave sought should... be freely given.'" Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2)). "Mere delay, however, absent a showing of bad faith or undue prejudice, does not provide a basis for a district court to deny the right to amend." State Teachers Ret. Bd. v. Fluor Corp., 654 F.2d 843, 856 (2d Cir. 1981). "Prejudice arises when the amendment would (i) require the opponent to expend significant additional resources to conduct discovery and prepare for trial; (ii) significantly delay the resolution of the dispute; or (iii) ...

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