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Gladu v. Ross

United States District Court, D. Maine

March 21, 2017

TROY ROSS, et al., Defendants.


          John C. Nivison, U.S. Magistrate Judge

         In this action, Plaintiff Nicholas Gladu, an inmate at the Maine Correctional Center, alleges that he was assaulted by a corrections officer while he was assigned to the Maine State Prison. The matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion to Amend. (ECF No. 131.) In support of his motion, Plaintiff filed a Proposed Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 129.)

         Following a review of the motion, and after consideration of the parties' written arguments, I recommend the Court grant in part and deny in part the motion.[1]

         Procedural Background

         In his original complaint, Plaintiff alleged he was assaulted by a corrections officer, Defendant Gowen. (Complaint, ECF No. 1.) Defendant Troy Ross moved to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint citing the absence of any factual allegations that would support a finding that he was involved in the incident, or that he had any knowledge Defendant Gowen would assault Plaintiff. Additionally, Defendant Ross argued that Plaintiff's assertions regarding the failure to train were conclusory. (ECF No. 16 at 3.) The Court concluded Plaintiff's allegations regarding the claim based on a failure to train were sufficient to state a plausible claim. (Order, ECF No. 37; Recommended Decision, ECF No. 29.)

         On December 2, 2015, Defendant Ross filed a motion for summary judgment. In support of the motion, Defendant Ross provided record evidence that he was not responsible for training corrections officers and that Defendant Gowen received the standard use of force training provided to corrections officers. (Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 38; Statement of Material Facts, ECF No. 39.) Because discovery had not yet been completed, upon Plaintiff's request pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(d), the Court permitted Plaintiff the opportunity to identify the discovery he believed would be necessary to respond to the summary judgment motion. (Report of Conference and Order, ECF No. 42.)

         Plaintiff subsequently expressed his intention “to demonstrate an affirmative link between the behaviors of Defendant Gowen and the inactions of Defendant Ross.” (ECF No. 44-1.) Plaintiff, however, did not identify any specific discovery initiatives he believed were necessary. In an order dated January 4, 2016, the Court noted that in connection with Plaintiff's Rule 56(d) request, Plaintiff must make an actual proffer regarding the discovery he wished to conduct, and granted Plaintiff a further opportunity to make the proffer. (ECF No. 47.) Plaintiff supplemented his request for discovery on January 25, 2016. (ECF No. 49.) Based on Plaintiff's supplemental request, the Court ordered Defendant Ross to provide Plaintiff with copies of documents regarding complaints made about Defendant Gowen's use of excessive force, and to provide Plaintiff with copies of documents regarding the training Defendant Gowen received in connection with his employment.[2](ECF No. 65 at 2.) The Court also established a 60-day deadline for Plaintiff to oppose the summary judgment motion. (Id. at 2.)

         On May 16, 2016, well after the expiration of 60 days, Plaintiff filed a motion requesting leave to amend his complaint to add state law claims and to revise his pleadings regarding his supervisory liability claim against Defendant Ross. (ECF No. 69.) Plaintiff, however, did not file an amended complaint, nor did Plaintiff respond to the summary judgment motion.

         During a telephonic hearing on July 8, 2016, Plaintiff represented that he did not oppose summary judgment on his claim against Defendant Ross based on the failure to train, but wished to amend his complaint to assert an alternative claim. (See ECF No. 92 at 2.) Defendant Ross agreed to remain a party to the litigation because Plaintiff expressed his intent to amend the complaint to assert a different claim against Defendant Ross.

         On July 11, 2016, the Court ordered Plaintiff to file a proposed amended complaint on or before July 29, 2016. (ECF No. 92 at 3.) Additionally, the Court issued a scheduling order. (Id. at 4 - 5.) The schedule established a deadline for amendment of the pleadings of July 29, 2016, and a discovery deadline of October 21, 2016. (Id.)

         On that same date, I recommended the Court grant Defendant Ross's motion for summary judgment. (Recommended Decision, ECF No. 94.) In the recommended decision, I concluded the record established: (1) that Defendant Ross was not responsible for the training of corrections officers, (2) that training on the proper use of force is provided by the Department of Corrections' Director of Training as part of the training administered at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, and (3) that Defendant Gowen successfully completed the eight hours of instruction on the use of excessive force before the alleged incident. (Recommended Decision at 2, citing Defendant's Statement of Material Facts, ¶¶ 1 - 4, ECF No. 39.)

         Plaintiff did not file an amended complaint on or before July 29, 2016. Instead, on July 29, 2016, the Court docketed Plaintiff's objection to the recommended decision on the summary judgment motion. (ECF No. 95.) On August 10, 2016, the Court affirmed the recommended decision over Plaintiff's objection. (ECF No. 97.)

         Although Plaintiff did not file a motion to amend before July 29 as ordered, based on several subsequent pleadings, the Court extended the deadline for the amendment of pleadings to November 21, 2016. (ECF No. 126.) On November 29 and November 30, 2016, the Court docketed Plaintiff's amended complaint executed November 20 and stamped by the Post Office on November 22, 2016, and Plaintiff's motion to amend dated November 21 and stamped on November 28. (ECF No. 129, 131.)

         Background Facts

         Through his motion to amend, Plaintiff seeks to join the Maine Department of Corrections as a party defendant, amend his allegations against Defendant Ross, and add certain state law claims.[3] The facts set forth herein are as alleged in Plaintiff's proposed amended complaint.

         Plaintiff is currently incarcerated at the Maine Correctional Center. At the time Defendant Gowen allegedly assaulted Plaintiff, Plaintiff was assigned to the Special Management Unit at the Maine State Prison. According to Plaintiff, on June 28, 2014, Defendant Gowen, a corrections officer, slammed the steel hatch of the tray slot on Plaintiff's cell door into Plaintiff's hand, causing significant injury. (Proposed Am. Compl. ¶¶ 26 - 28, ECF No. 129.) Plaintiff asserts that after the incident, several officers told him that they had watched a video of the incident and that they were shocked by how “enraged” Officer Gowen was. (Id. ¶ 35.)

         After concluding an investigation, Defendant Ross (then Deputy Warden at the Maine State Prison) and various officials within the Department of Corrections stated that the incident was not captured on camera. (Id. ¶ 37.) Plaintiff asserts Defendant Ross and others “have conspired to deprive Plaintiff of video evidence that depicts him being assaulted.” (Id. ¶ 38; see also Id. ¶ 52.)

         Plaintiff also alleges that the Department and Defendant Ross were “sufficiently informed of a series of incidents constituting dereliction or neglect of duties resulting in a pattern of mistreatment of inmates and [similar] behavior … by correctional staff at MSP, ” (id. ¶ 40), [4] such that they have “failed to exercise adequate supervision over subordinates and failed to take steps to regulate and control the discretion of subordinate officers …” and “failed to provide or enforce lawful and proper guidelines and procedures to assist subordinates to engage in only lawful acts.” (Id. ¶ 41; see also Id. ¶ 49.) Plaintiff further alleges that Defendant Ross has “failed to act on multiple reports that certain guards were abusing prisoners, which resulted in weakened protective measures and routine constitutional violations.” (Id. ¶ 42.) Plaintiff does not allege any prior incidents involving Defendant Gowen.

         Plaintiff asserts that “incidents where a prisoner refuses to close his tray slot … occur very frequently and typically result in no use of force” because “most times … officers will ignore such behavior by prisoners.” (Id. ΒΆ 43.) Citing Defendant Gowen's conduct, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Ross was negligent in the supervision of ...

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