United States District Court, D. Delaware
Matthew G. Summers, Brittany M. Giusini, and William J.
Burton, BALLARD SPAHR LLP, Wilmington, DE. Attorneys for
B. Martinelli and Allison J. McCowan, DEPUTY ATTORNEYS
GENERAL, Delaware Department of Justice, Wilmington, DE.
Attorneys for Defendants.
ANDREWS, U.S. DISRICT JUDGE.
before me is Plaintiff Abdul-Haqq Shabazz's Motion for
Leave to File Third Amended Complaint (D.I. 104). Defendants
oppose this motion. (D.I. 110). Plaintiff has also renewed
his claim in the form of a new complaint. (l:19-cv-01909-UNA,
D.I. 1). For the reasons set forth herein, Plaintiffs motion
is denied as to the Third Amended Complaint and Plaintiff is
given leave to amend his complaint in light of this opinion.
Abdul-Haqq Shabazz, an inmate at James T. Vaughn Correctional
Center ("JTVCC") in Smyrna, Delaware, filed his
initial complaint pro se on June 30, 2016. (D.I.
2).Plaintiff has suffered from diagnosed
glaucoma and cataracts in both of his eyes for the past
fourteen to nineteen years. (D.I. 104-1 at ¶ 15). When
Plaintiff filed his original complaint, he was completely
blind in his left eye and his vision was severely impaired in
his right eye. (D.I. 105 at 2). After various appointments
and interactions with physicians and other medical personnel,
Plaintiff received glaucoma surgery on October 9, 2017. (D.I.
104-1 at 4). On April 13, 2019, Plaintiff became completely
and irreversibly blind in his right eye. (Id. at
being appointed counsel, Plaintiff filed a First Amended
Complaint on April 7, 2017, which added Connections Community
Support Programs as a defendant and stated a cause of action
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deliberate indifference and
cruel and unusual punishment based upon Connections' and
the Department of Corrections' failure to provide
Plaintiff with constitutionally required medical care
treating his glaucoma. (D.I. 22). Plaintiff then filed a
Second Amended Complaint on May 12, 2017. (D.I. 27).
dismissed Plaintiffs Second Amended Complaint because
Plaintiffs allegations lacked sufficient detail about a
particular policy, practice, or custom maintained by
Defendant that caused Plaintiffs injury. (D.I. 57 at 1). In
his Second Amended Complaint, Plaintiff asserted causes of
action under the ADA and Rehabilitation Act against two
individuals in their official capacities, who could not be
subject to claims for damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
(D.I. 27). At that time, I was inclined to give Plaintiff
another opportunity to state his claim with sufficient
factual detail to "allow the court the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.1
granted Plaintiff leave to amend his complaint, with a
deadline of December 15, 2017. (D.I. 58).
past the original deadline, Plaintiff now requests leave to
file a third amended complaint. (D.I. 104). Plaintiff argues
that his current state of complete and irreversible blindness
has given rise to new claims under Title II of the Americans
with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation
Act. (D.I. 105 at 1). These claims are related to the claims
that Plaintiff previously asserted.
proposed Third Amended Complaint and in his separately filed
action, Plaintiff seeks to add as a defendant Vincent Carr
("Dr. Carr"), the former medical director of the
Delaware Department of Corrections who oversaw decisions
related to Plaintiffs treatment. (D.I. 104-1;
l:19-cv-01909-UNA, D.I. 1). Plaintiff asserts an Eighth
Amendment claim against Dr. Carr individually under Section
1983, alleging effective denial of surgical treatment leading
to the loss of eyesight. (D.I. 104-1). Plaintiff alleges that
Dr. Carr was deliberately indifferent to Plaintiffs serious
medical needs and contributed to delays in Plaintiffs medical
treatment from 2012 to July 2018. (Id. at
¶¶ 12-14). Plaintiff describes meeting with Dr.
Carr in 2016 and receiving inadequate attention to his
medical needs from Dr. Carr after that meeting. (Id.
at ¶ 67). Plaintiff further alleges that Dr. Carr
instituted and enforced policies and procedures that caused
Plaintiff to go completely and irreversibly blind in both
eyes. (Id. at ¶¶ 74-78).
oppose the addition of Dr. Carr as a new defendant. (D.I. 110
at 1 n.1).
general, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a) governs the
amendment of pleadings before trial. The rule provides that
leave to amend should be given freely "when justice so
requires." Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182
(1962). Rule 15(a) "embodies a liberal approach to
pleading," and "leave to amend must generally be
granted unless equitable considerations render it otherwise
unjust." Arthur v. Maersk, Inc., 434 F.3d 196,
204 (3d Cir. 2006). The relevant equitable considerations
include undue delay or bad faith by the party seeking leave
to amend, prejudice to the non-moving party, futility of the
proposed amendments, and judicial economy. See Mullin v.
Balicki, 875 F.3d 140, 149-50 (3d Cir. 2017). Prejudice
to the non-moving party is the "touchstone" inquiry
for the denial of leave to amend. Id. at 155.
case, another rule is applicable. Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 16(b)(4) requires district courts to impose a
schedule which "may be modified only for good cause and
with the judge's consent." Since Plaintiff seeks to
amend a pleading after the scheduling order deadline for
pleading amendments has passed, I will first apply Rule
16(b). See In re Fisker Auto. Holdings, Inc., 2018
WL 5113964, at *3 (D. Del. Oct. 12, 2018) ("When a party
seeks to amend a pleading after the scheduling order's
deadline for pleading amendments has passed, the court will
apply Rule 16(b) as opposed to Rule 15(a)."); see
also Eastern Minerals & Chems. Co. v. Mahan, 225