United States District Court, D. Maryland
ANDREW J. DICKS, #336-138, Plaintiff,
GREG FLURY, PA, et al., Defendants.
GEORGE L. RUSSELL, III, District Judge.
Pending before the Court are Defendants Greg Flury, PA and Colin Ottey, MD's ("Medical Defendants") Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint (ECF No. 8), Defendant, Former Warden Bobby P. Shearin's Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 18), and Shearin's Motion to Strike Amended Complaint (ECF No. 32). The Court, having reviewed the Motions and supporting documents, finds no hearing necessary pursuant to Local Rule 105.6 (D.Md. 2014). For the reasons outlined below, Shearin's Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment will be granted and Shearin's Motion to Strike Amended Complaint and the Medical Defendants' Motion to Dismiss will be denied.
Plaintiff Andrew Dicks alleges he was assaulted by Defendant Flury on October 9, 2012, while at a medical appointment. Dicks avers that Flury punched him with a closed fist to the chest, then grabbed him with both hands and shoved him into an examining table causing him to fall and hit his head on a wall. Dicks complains that the injury to his right knee, for which he was to receive treatment, was exacerbated during this altercation with Flury. Dicks further asserts that Dr. Ottey refused to provide him with medical treatment for the injuries he suffered as a result of the alleged altercation. Finally, Dicks alleges he filed grievances with Shearin concerning the alleged assault and denial of medical care that were never investigated.
Dicks initiated this case on April 1, 2014. (ECF No. 1). On May 12, 2014, he filed an Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 7). The Medical Defendants filed their Motion to Dismiss on June 2, 2014. (ECF No. 8). On June 17, 2014, Shearin filed his Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 18). Dicks filed Oppositions to the Motions. (ECF Nos. 13, 21, 22). On August 27, 2014, Dicks filed a Supplement to Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 29). The supplemental complaint does not include any allegations against the Medical Defendants, but solely seeks to include additional allegations against "prison officials" at NBCI. (Id.). On September 9, 2014, Shearin filed a Motion to Strike "Supplemental" Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 32). On September 18, 2014, Dicks filed an Opposition to the Motion to Strike. (ECF No. 35). The Motions are now ripe for disposition.
A. Motion to Strike Supplemental Complaint
On August 27, 2014, Dicks filed a Supplement to Amended Complaint asserting an additional claim of retaliation. The Supplement to Amended Complaint alleges his security status was increased to "Max II" in retaliation for him having filed this lawsuit. Shearin argues Dicks did not attempt to obtain Defendants' consent to amend his Complaint before filing the Supplement to Amended Complaint, nor did he obtain the permission of the Court before doing so. Further, Shearin argues it would be unjust to allow Dicks to supplement his complaint regarding matters that allegedly occurred after Shearin was no longer the warden at NBCI.
A supplemental pleading differs from an amended pleading because it relates to matters occurring subsequent to the filing of the initial complaint. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(d). Under Rule 15(d), "[o]n motion and reasonable notice, the court may, on just terms, permit a party to serve a supplemental pleading...." Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(d). Further, a party may supplement its complaint "even though the original pleading is defective in stating of a claim or defense." Id. The Fourth Circuit has noted that the standard for evaluating Rule 15(d) motions is "nearly identical" to the standard for evaluating Rule 15(a) motions. Franks v. Ross, 313 F.3d 184, 198 n.15 (4th Cir. 2002). "In either situation, leave should be freely granted, and should be denied only where good reason exists..., such as prejudice to the defendants.'" Id. (alteration in the original) (quoting Walker v. United Parcel Serv., 240 F.3d 1268, 1278 (10th Cir. 2001)).
First, even construed liberally, Dicks filed his Supplement to the Amended Complaint without seeking permission of the Court as required by Rule 15(d). Nevertheless, keeping in mind Dicks's pro se status, the Court declines to strike the Supplemental Amended Complaint on the grounds that he did not file a proper motion with the Court. See Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978) (explaining that generally, pro se pleadings are held to a less stringent standard than those pleadings drafted by an attorney). Second, the Court finds that Shearin will not suffer any prejudice as a result of the supplement because although the reclassification of Dicks's security status occurred after Shearin's employment with DPSCS ended, Frank Bishop, Shearin's successor, is automatically substituted as a party.
Here, Dicks's Supplemental Complaint alleged retaliation by "prison officials" for exercise of his right of access to courts. Thus, the Court finds that good cause exists to permit Dicks to supplement his complaint, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(d). Accordingly, Shearin's Motion to Strike Amended Complaint will be denied and Defendant Bishop will be directed to respond to the Supplemental Complaint in due course.
B. Medical Defendants' Motion to Dismiss
The Medical Defendants move to dismiss the Complaint on the basis that (1) Dicks failed to exhaust his administrative remedies; (2) they are entitled to qualified immunity; and (3) Dicks failed to state a claim for violation of his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment and depriving him of adequate medical care. The Medical Defendants' Motion to Dismiss will be denied.
To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a complaint must set forth "a claim for relief that is plausible on its face." Id.; Twombly, 550 U.S. at 547. A claim is facially plausible "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for ...