United States District Court, D. Delaware
person filing a lawsuit must define and describe their claim
in a pleading. The pleading must contain a short and plain
statement of the claim showing a right to relief. The Court
and defendants cannot proceed to trial on unplead claims. We
liberally allow parties to amend their pleading to ensure a
valid claim or defense is resolved. When a party neither
pleads the claim she later wants to try nor asks for
amendment after the Court has provided many opportunities to
do so because these steps are "unnecessary", and
otherwise fails to show good cause for not diligently
following the Court's multiple scheduling orders allowing
her more time to plead a new claim, we are left with no
option but to dismiss her case as all plead claims are
dismissed and an alleged remaining claim is not plead and to
the proposed amendment is futile. In the accompanying Order,
we dismiss this case with prejudice.
Relevant procedural history
late Medford Holmes sued the City and various City law
enforcement officials for claims arising from his pretrial
detention under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Although Mr.
Holmes sued under many different Fourth Amendment theories
including false arrest/imprisonment and malicious
prosecution, he admits the Complaint does not include facts
supporting a Fourth Amendment claim based on false
statements/omissions in an affidavit for probable cause for
an arrest warrant.
Defendants moved to dismiss but the parties did not brief the
issue of a claim predicated on false statements or omissions
in an affidavit of probable cause.
Defendants did not initially move to dismiss the false
arrest/imprisonment claims, in their Reply they argued these
claims (and the malicious prosecution claim) were barred
because Mr. Holmes' grand jury indictment conclusively
established probable cause.Holmes argued the grand jury
indictment could not demonstrate probable cause because
Defendants procured the indictment by fraud, perjury or other
corrupt means. The parties did not brief the issue of
fraud in an affidavit of probable cause.
February 4, 2015 Memorandum, Judge Robinson found Mr. Holmes
did not plead sufficient facts to show fraud before the grand
jury because Holmes did not identify which witnesses perjured
themselves. In the accompanying Order, Judge Robinson
granted Holmes leave to file an Amended Complaint to cure
pleading defects on or before March 4, 2015.
did not file an Amended Complaint. On March 23, 2015, Judge
Robinson issued an order to show cause why the action should
not be dismissed for failing to file an Amended
Complaint. Mr. Holmes responded, "Plaintiff is
presenting claims against the defendants for malicious
prosecution, procedural due process, false arrest and false
imprisonment." Mr. Holmes complained the facts he needed
to prove his claims-such as the grand jury transcript and
investigative materials-are only available through
discovery. Judge Robinson found Holmes' response
"sufficient to enable the case to proceed to the
discovery process, without amendment at this
Judge Robinson set deadlines for amending pleadings and
20, 2015, Judge Robinson entered a Scheduling Order requiring
"Amended Pleadings [are] due by 8/30/2015" and
"Discovery [is] due by 1/30/2016." Holmes did
not file an amended pleading at any point after the July 20,
2015 Scheduling Order.
January 22, 2016, Defendants moved to extend the discovery
deadline. Judge Robinson granted the motion,
extending the discovery deadline to February 23,
Defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing no evidence an
affiant made false statements or omissions in seeking an
timely moved for summary judgment, arguing the unchallenged
arrest warrant established probable cause, precluding
Holmes' claims for false arrest, false imprisonment, and
malicious prosecution. Defendants addressed case law
providing a warrant is presumptively valid unless the affiant
knowingly, deliberately, or with reckless disregard for the
truth, made false statements or omissions creating a
falsehood, and the statements/omissions were material to the
finding of probable cause.
argued Holmes neither alleged nor provided evidence
demonstrating the affiant falsified the warrant application:
"In this case, Plaintiff has not alleged the warrant
affiant . . . falsified any of the information contained in
the affidavit of probable cause, nor is there any evidence in
the record to support such an allegation." Holmes
responded the evidence demonstrated Defendants
"knowingly and deliberately, or with reckless disregard
for the truth, made false statements and omissions when they
applied for the warrant to arrest Mr.
Holmes." Holmes did not respond to
Defendants' argument Holmes never alleged the warrant
affiant falsified information.
April 19, 2017, Judge Robinson denied summary judgment in
part on Holmes' "§ 1983 Fourth Amendment
Claim" because "Defendants' brief did not
squarely address whether [the City detectives] are subject to
qualified immunity" for this claim. Judge
Robinson dismissed Holmes' §1983 malicious
prosecution claim because Holmes failed to demonstrate a
genuine issue of material fact as to whether the criminal
proceedings terminated in Mr. Holmes' favor, explaining
Mr. Holmes' nolle prosequi and the
prosecutor's accompanying explanation- "credibility
of witnesses"-did not demonstrate the prosecutor
dismissed the charges due to his innocence. The only
remaining claim following Judge Robinson's summary
judgment decision is Holmes' "§ 1983 Fourth
In May 2017, we ordered briefing on any remaining §1983
Fourth Amendment claim.
reassignment and upon recognizing Judge Robinson
dismissed Holmes' Fourth Amendment claims based on
theories of excessive force, malicious prosecution, false
arrest, and false imprisonment, we ordered Holmes "to
define any remaining viable Fourth Amendment
claim." In response, Holmes identified an
"unlawful seizure" claim based on the City
detectives' materially false statements and omissions in
an arrest warrant application.
20, 2017, we held a status call in which we discussed
Holmes' unlawful seizure claim. We asked Holmes'
counsel to identify factual allegations in the Complaint
supporting this claim, and counsel admitted there were none.
Rather than dismissing Holmes' lawsuit outright for lack
of any remaining pleaded claims, we ordered Holmes to file a
memorandum explaining why she would have good cause under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16(b)(4) to file an Amended
Complaint asserting a claim under her admittedly unpled
Fourth Amendment theory.
dismiss Holmes' Complaint because she fails to
demonstrate good cause to seek leave to amend. Even if Holmes
had timely or diligently moved to amend, the "unlawful
seizure" claim Holmes presses would have been futile.
Holmes does not demonstrate good cause ...