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Ervin v. Health Services Administrator Keller

United States District Court, D. Colorado

February 25, 2015

BRUCE ERVIN, Plaintiff,


PHILIP A. BRIMMER, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on the Recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge Michael E. Hegarty (the "Recommendation") filed on August 13, 2014 [Docket No. 109]. The magistrate judge recommends that the Court deny plaintiff's Second Motion for Leave to File Second Amended Complaint [Docket No. 103]. Plaintiff filed his objections on September 2, 2014.

The Court will "determine de novo any part of the magistrate judge's disposition that has been properly objected to." Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3). In the absence of a proper objection, the Court may review a magistrate judge's recommendation under any standard it deems appropriate. See Summers v. Utah, 927 F.2d 1165, 1167 (10th Cir. 1991); see also Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 150 (1985) ("[i]t does not appear that Congress intended to require district court review of a magistrate's factual or legal conclusions, under a de novo or any other standard, when neither party objects to those findings"). An objection is proper if it is specific enough to enable the Court "to focus attention on those issues-factual and legal-that are at the heart of the parties' dispute." United States v. 2121 East 30th Street, 73 F.3d 1057, 1059 (10th Cir. 1996). In light of plaintiff's pro se status, the Court construes his filings liberally. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 & n.3 (10th Cir. 1991).


Plaintiff is an inmate incarcerated at the Federal Prison Camp in Florence, Colorado ("FPC"). Docket No. 99-1 at 1. Plaintiff's motion seeks to substitute six defendants for the John Doe defendants named in the first amended complaint: defendants Pierce, Maye, Ramirez, Sharpaugh, and Maldonado (collectively, the "Texas defendants"), and defendant Berkebile (collectively with the Texas defendants, the "proposed defendants"). Docket No. 103 at 3-6. Additional relevant facts are set forth in detail in the Recommendation, see Docket No. 109 at 2-4, and will not be recited here except as relevant to the Court's de novo review.

Rule 15 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a party may amend its complaint as a matter of course within twenty-one days after service of the complaint, or twenty-one days after service of a responsive pleading or service of a Rule 12 motion, whichever is earlier. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1). "In all other cases, a party may amend its pleading only with the opposing party's written consent or the court's leave." Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). Rule 15 instructs courts to "freely give leave [to amend] when justice so requires." Id. Nevertheless, denying leave to amend is justified if the proposed amendments are unduly delayed, unduly prejudicial, futile, or sought in bad faith. Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962); Frank v. U.S. West, Inc., 3 F.3d 1357, 1365 (10th Cir. 1993). As a general rule, the Court retains the discretion to permit such amendments. Minter v. Prime Equip. Co. 451 F.3d 1196, 1201 (10th Cir. 2006). The Court must delineate its rationale if it refuses leave to amend. Federal Ins. Co. v. Gates Learjet Corp., 823 F.2d 383, 387 (10th Cir. 1987).

The magistrate judge recommended that the Court deny leave to amend on the grounds that (1) amendment would be futile because plaintiff has not met his burden of showing that the Court has personal jurisdiction over the Texas defendants, Docket No. 109 at 6-11, (2) amendment would be futile because plaintiff's claims against defendants Maye, Sharpaugh, and Maldonado are barred by the applicable two-year statute of limitations, id. at 14, (3) plaintiff unduly delayed in naming the proposed defendants, id. at 14-15, and (4) granting leave to amend would cause undue prejudice to defendant Kellar, whose dispositive motion has already been granted. Id. at 15-16.[1]

A. Personal Jurisdiction

Plaintiff objects to the Recommendation's finding that plaintiff did not meet his burden of showing that the Court has personal jurisdiction over the Texas defendants. See Docket No. 110 at 1-18.

Plaintiff bears the burden of establishing personal jurisdiction over defendants. See Rambo v. Am. S. Ins. Co., 839 F.2d 1415, 1417 (10th Cir. 1988). A plaintiff can satisfy this burden by making a prima facie showing of personal jurisdiction. Dudnikov v. Chalk & Vermilion Fine Arts, Inc., 514 F.3d 1063, 1070 (10th Cir. 2008). The Court will accept the well-pleaded allegations of the complaint as true to determine whether plaintiff has made a prima facie showing that personal jurisdiction exists. AST Sports Science, Inc. v. CLF Distribution Ltd., 514 F.3d 1054, 1057 (10th Cir. 2008). If the presence or absence of personal jurisdiction can be established by reference to the complaint, the Court need not look further. Id. The plaintiff, however, may also make this prima facie showing by putting forth evidence that, if proven to be true, would support jurisdiction over the defendant. Dudnikov, 514 F.3d at 1070. "[A]ny factual disputes... must be resolved in plaintiffs' favor." Id.

Before a federal court can assert personal jurisdiction over a defendant in a federal question case, the court must determine (1) "whether the applicable statute potentially confers jurisdiction" by authorizing service of process on the defendant and (2) "whether the exercise of jurisdiction comports with due process." Peay v. BellSouth Med. Assistance Plan, 205 F.3d 1206, 1209 (10th Cir. 2000) (citations and quotation omitted). The statute that governs plaintiff's claims, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, does not authorize nationwide service of process. Id. Accordingly, the Court may assert personal jurisdiction "to the extent allowed by the state in which the district court sits." SCC Commc'ns Corp. v. Anderson, 195 F.Supp.2d 1257, 1259-60 (D. Colo. 2002). Colorado's long arm statute "confer[s] the maximum jurisdiction permitted by the due process clauses of the United States and Colorado constitutions." Archangel Diamond Corp. v. Lukoil, 123 P.3d 1187, 1193 (Colo. 2005) (en banc) (citing Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-1-124(1)).

The exercise of jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant comports with due process "so long as there exist minimum contacts between the defendant and the forum State." Trujillo v. Williams, 465 F.3d 1210, 1217 (10th Cir. 2006) (citing Intercon, Inc. v. Bell Atlantic Internet Solutions, Inc., 205 F.3d 1244, 1247 (10th Cir. 2000)). The minimum contacts necessary for specific personal jurisdiction may be established where "the defendant has purposefully directed' its activities toward the forum jurisdiction and where the underlying action is based upon activities that arise out of or relate to the defendant's contacts with the forum." Id. at 1218 (quotation and citations omitted).

1. General Jurisdiction

"[A] court may maintain general jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant, based on the defendant's continuous and systematic' general business contacts with the forum state." Trujillo, 465 F.3d at 1218, n. 7 (citation omitted). Plaintiff argues that the Recommendation's finding that the Court does not have general jurisdiction over the Texas defendants would force plaintiff to maintain separate lawsuits in Colorado and Texas. Docket No. 110 at 5. Plaintiff, however, does not argue that any of the Texas defendants have continuous and systematic contact with the state of Colorado. While plaintiff may find it inconvenient to litigate his claims in two forums, the Court is not permitted to restrict the scope of due process protection for plaintiff's convenience. The Court finds that plaintiff has ...

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