United States District Court, D. Colorado
A. BRIMMER, United States District Judge
matter is before the Court on the Recommendation of United
States Magistrate Judge [Docket No. 124] filed on October 26,
2016. Magistrate Judge Nina Y. Wang recommends granting in
part Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File Amended
Complaint [Docket No. 99] to allow plaintiff to add claims
against previously-dismissed defendants Thomas Boyer and
Chase Felzein as well as proposed defendants David Johnson
and Nathan Algien. Docket No. 124 at 32. On November 14,
2016, defendant filed a timely objection. Docket No. 126. The
Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
factual and procedural history of this case are recited in
the Recommendation, Docket No. 124 at 1-7, and will not be
repeated here other than the following summary.
13, 2012, Paul Farley strangled his cellmate, James Roemer,
to death. On June 12, 2014, Mr. Roemer's estate filed a
complaint [Docket No. 1] alleging civil rights violations
under 28 U.S.C. § 1983 against employees of the Colorado
Department of Corrections (“CDOC”) involved in
allowing Mr. Farley to be housed with Mr. Roemer. The Court
dismissed claims against all but one of these individuals,
Mr. Ali Shoaga. Docket No. 58.
only Mr. Shoaga remaining as the sole defendant, on November
18, 2015, the magistrate judge entered a scheduling order
setting various deadlines, including a January 4, 2016
deadline for joiner of parties and amendments to the
pleadings. Docket No. 62 at 2. Many disputes arose during the
ensuing discovery. Of relevance to this motion, plaintiff
served written discovery on defendant and a Rule 30(b)(6)
deposition notice on CDOC on November 25, 2015. Id.
at 4; Docket No. 99-3 at 8. Plaintiff's discovery
requests and deposition notice sought information about the
individuals and policies involved in the decisions leading to
Mr. Farley becoming Mr. Roemer's cellmate. See,
e.g., Docket No. 99-2 at 3; Docket No. 99-3 at 4,
¶¶ 5-10. It took some time for plaintiff to receive
this information, to the extent it was ever produced. A Rule
30(b)(6) deposition of the CDOC occurred on April 19 and 29,
2016, but plaintiff sought additional information about the
individuals involved in deciding Mr. Farley's housing and
sought to reopen the Rule 30(b)(6) deposition. Docket No. 124
at 6. Following a July 8, 2016 discovery conference, the
magistrate judge ordered defendant to produce “the
names of the individuals and corresponding positions who may
be responsible for the classification and placement of Mr.
Farley” and granted plaintiff leave to take an
additional individual deposition in lieu of reopening the
deposition of the CDOC. Id. (quoting Docket No. 97
21, 2016, plaintiff filed the instant motion to amend that
added claims against previously dismissed defendants Boyer
and Felzein and new proposed defendants Johnson, Algien,
Archuleta and Medina as well as three “Doe”
defendants named only by title, Sterling Case Manager,
Sterling Intelligence Officer, and Sterling Housing
Lieutenant. Docket No. 99. On September 9, 2016 both parties
filed cross-motions for summary judgment that will be
resolved in a separate order. Docket Nos. 109, 110. On
October 26, 2016, the magistrate judge recommended granting
plaintiff's motion to amend in part to allow the addition
of proposed defendants Johnson, Algien, Boyer, and Felzein;
not allowing any further discovery; and, if the Court granted
amendment, setting a dispositive motions deadline 30 days
after the Court's decision. Docket No. 124 at 32. On
November 11, 2014, defendant objected to the Recommendation
insofar as it allowed the addition of defendants. Docket No.
126 at 2.
Objection to the Motion to Amend
motion to amend claims that, following the dismissal of the
other defendants, “[i]t became clear that Defendant
Shoaga intended to lay blame at others' feet.”
Docket No. 99 at 3. The motion then lays out plaintiff's
efforts during discovery to determine the identity and
positions of the CDOC employees who were involved in the
decisions leading to Messrs. Roemer and Farley being housed
together at the time of the murder. Id. at 4-7.
Recommendation examines the procedural history of discovery
disputes between the parties. Docket No. 124 at 1-7. In
analyzing the history in relation to the requirements of
Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(4), Magistrate Judge Wang first concludes,
based on her experience with the parties' discovery
disputes, that plaintiff did not fail to act diligently.
Docket No. 124 at 23. She finds good cause for amending
because plaintiff learned the new information after the
deadline to amend pleadings had passed. Id. Turning
to the requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a), the magistrate
judge finds the amendment was timely for the same reasons.
Id. at 25. In addressing bad faith, she finds that
the proposed amendments are made in good faith against
individuals allegedly involved with Mr. Roemer's murder
based on facts learned during discovery. Id. at
26-27. On the issue of undue prejudice, Magistrate Judge Wang
focuses on the potential prejudice to Mr. Shoaga and not the
proposed defendants. She finds “including additional
Defendants will not affect how Defendant Shoaga defends
himself in this case.” Id. at 28 (citing
Patton v. Guyer, 443 F.2d 79, 86 (10th Cir. 1971)).
Addressing futility, the magistrate judge declines to address
a potential statute of limitations defense that could be
raised by the proposed defendants, concluding it would be
better resolved by a dispositive motion. Id. at 30.
In a ruling objected to by neither party, she also finds that
it would be futile to add the three proposed John Doe
defendants, Mr. Medina, and Mr. Archuleta because the amended
complaint fails to state a claim against them. Id.
Standard of Review
threshold matter, the Court must first determine whether a
motion to amend is a dispositive motion. See Fed. R.
Civ. P. 72. The Tenth Circuit has held that the list of
dispositive motions provided by 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A)
is not an exhaustive list of the motions that must be
reviewed as dispositive by a district judge. Ocelot Oil
Corp. v. Sparrow Indus., 847 F.2d 1458, 1462 (10th Cir.
1988). Rather, motions with dispositive effect, even if not
enumerated on the statutory list, are to be treated as
dispositive if they have dispositive effect. Id.
Given the stage of the case and the time that has passed
since Mr. Roemer's murder, denial of the motion to amend
would prevent plaintiff from being able to sue the proposed
defendants. See id. (“The striking of
Ocelot's pleadings with prejudice means that Ocelot can
no longer sue the Browns. This sanction has the effect of
dismissing Ocelot's action”). The Court will
therefore review the Recommendation as if it made a
recommendation on a dispositive motion.
dispositive motions, the Court must “determine de novo
any part of the magistrate judge's disposition that has
been properly objected to.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3). An
objection is “proper” if it is both timely and
specific. United States v. One Parcel of Real Property
Known as 2121 East 30th St., 73 F.3d 1057, 1059 (10th
15(a) generally addresses amendment of pleadings prior to
trial and provides that a court should “freely give
leave [to amend] when justice so requires.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). However, Rule 16(b) applies when the
deadline for amendment of pleadings as set in the scheduling
order has passed. A scheduling order deadline “may be
modified only for good cause and with the judge's
consent.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(4). Thus, the requirements
of both rules must be satisfied in the present situation.
“After a scheduling order deadline, a party seeking
leave to amend must demonstrate (1) good cause for seeking
modification under Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(4) and (2) satisfaction
of the Rule 15(a) ...