United States District Court, D. Delaware
DANIEL R. COUSINS, Plaintiff,
REBECCA DUTTON-MCCORMICK, etal., Defendants,
R. Cousins, James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, Smyrna,
Delaware, Pro Se Plaintiff.
B. Drowos, Deputy Attorney General, Delaware Department of
Justice, Wilmington, Delaware. Counsel for Defendants.
U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
Daniel R. Cousins ("Plaintiff), an inmate at the James
T. Vaughn Correctional Center ("VCC") in Smyrna,
Delaware, filed this action alleging constitutional
violations pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (D.I. 3) He
appears pro se and has been granted leave to proceed
in forma pauperis. (D.I. 5) The Complaint was
screened as required under the Prison Litigation Reform Act,
and Plaintiff was allowed to proceed on two claims.
(See D.I. 7, 8) Plaintiff has filed a motion to
amend and a motion to compel, opposed by Defendants Rebecca
Dutton-McCormick ("Dutton"), C/O Enoch Totimeh
("Totimeh"), and "Lt. Barry Burman"
("Burman") (collectively "Defendants").
(D.I. 23, 34) Defendants have filed a motion to extend the
discovery deadline and the dispositive motion deadline,
opposed by Plaintiff. (D.I. 44)
Complaint alleges that on the morning of June 25, 2014,
Plaintiff went to a law library7 appointment to conduct legal
research and type a manuscript when Dutton, the VCC law
librarian, had C/O Totimeh come to the law library and
confiscate Plaintiffs manuscript in retaliation for
Plaintiffs having challenged Dutton's authority to deny
persons their law library privileges. The Complaint alleges
that Plaintiff informed Lt. Burman, Totimeh, and Dutton that
he intended to file a lawsuit naming them as defendants,
whereupon Burman ordered correctional officers to search
Plaintiffs cell, confiscate all his research, materials, and
writings, and take the material and all of Plaintiffs
property to the education building, where Burman separated
all of Plaintiff s papers. The Complaint also alleges that
Plaintiff was immediately transferred from his minimum
housing assignment to a maximum security housing assignment,
at the direction of Burman.
MOTION TO AMEND
moves to amend to add new defendants and a new claim for a
"continued chain of violations." (D.I. 23) Pursuant
to Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2), courts "should freely give
leave [to amend] when justice so requires." However,
"undue delay, bad faith, dilatory motive, prejudice,
[or] futility" could all "justify a denial of leave
to amend." Shane v. Fauver, 213 F.3d 113, 115
(3d Cir. 2000). "'Futility' means that the
complaint, as amended, would fail to state a claim upon which
relief could be granted" under the standard of Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Le/on Twin El v.
Marino, 722 Fed.Appx. 262, 265 (3d Cir. Jan. 8, 2018)
(quoting Shane, 213 F.3d at 115). In evaluating
whether a plaintiff has stated a claim upon which relief
could be granted, the court accepts "all factual
allegations as true, construes the complaint in the light
most favorable to the plaintiff, and determines whether,
under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff
may be entitled to relief." Bronowicz v. Allegheny
Cty., 804 F.3d 338, 344 (3d Cir. 2015) (internal
quotation mark omitted).
was issued a disciplinary report on January 17, 2015, by
Amber Hylton ("Hylton"), who confiscated Plaintiffs
handwritten manuscript after it was found in the possession
of another inmate. (D.I. 23 at 4) Hylton determined the
manuscript contained sexually explicit material and violated
inmate housing rules. (Id.) Plaintiff argued with
Hylton and told her he had sued another correctional officer
for a similar write-up he received in the law library.
(Id.) Sgt. Edward Madigan ("Madigan")
reviewed the disciplinary report and concluded the
"offense would be properly responded to by disciplinary
hearing." (Id.) Plaintiff appeared at the
disciplinary hearing before hearing officer Timothy Radcliffe
("Radcliffe"), pled guilty, and indicated that he
did not intend to appeal the matter. (Id.)
seeks to add Amber Biddle ("Biddle"),
Madigan, Radcliffe, and the Delaware Department of Correction
("DOC") as defendants. He alleges the foregoing
individuals violated his First Amendment rights in a
continued chain of violations as a result of the January 17,
2015 violation. In addition, he seeks to assert a municipal
liability claim against the DOC.
commenced this action on April 25, 2016. At the time, he was
well aware of the January 17, 2015 occurrence and the
individuals involved, given that he had by then received a
disciplinary report, appeared at a disciplinary hearing, and
pled guilty to the charges. Nonetheless, Plaintiff did not
include the claim in his initial complaint and did not seek
to add the allegation until July 3, 2018, some three and
one-half years after the occurrence. Plaintiff provides no
reasonable explanation for his failure to include the claim.
In addition, the June 2014 and January 2015 occurrences are
discrete acts that involve individuals different than
Defendants and that occurred on a different date under
argue that Plaintiff s January 2015 claims are time-barred by
the applicable two-year statute of limitations, the claim
having occurred on January 17, 2015, yet Plaintiff not having
filed the claim until July 3, 2018. In Delaware, § 1983
claims are subject to a two-year limitations period.
See 10 Del. C. § S119; Johnson v.
Cullen, 925 F.Supp. 244, 248 (D. Del. 1996).
Under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 15(c), an amended
claim may relate back to the original, timely-filed complaint
for purposes of compliance with a statute of limitations.
See Singletary v. Pennsylvania Dep'. of Com, 266
F.3d 186, 189 (3d Cir. 2001J; Nelson v. County of
Allegheny, 60 F.3d 1010, 1015 (3d Or. 1995). Here,
however, the record does not support any of the conditions
necessary for the successful relation back of an amended
complaint to add new parties. See Singletary, 266
F.3d at 189. The additional claim did not arise out of the
same conduct as the original pleading; the newly named party
did not receive notice of the institution of the action
within 120 days of the complaint, so the new party may be
prejudiced in maintaining a defense on the merits; and it is
not the case that the newly-named party must have known or
should have known within 120 days of the complaint that,
but-for a mistake made by the plaintiff concerning the
newly-named party's identity, the action would have been
brought against the newly-named party in the first place.
also seeks to add the DOC under a municipality liability
theory. The Eleventh Amendment of the United States
Constitution protects an unconsenting state or state agency
from a suit brought in federal court by one of its own
citizens, regardless of the relief sought See Seminole
Tribe of Fla. v. Florida,517 U.S. 44, 54 (1996);
Pennburst State Sch. <&Hosp. v. Halderman,465 U.S. 89 (1984); Edelman v. Jordan,415 U.S. 651
(1974). As an agency of the State of Delaware, the DOC is
entitled to immunity under the Eleventh Amendment and,
therefore, the proposed amendment as to the DOC is futile.
See e.g., Evans v. Ford, ...