United States District Court, D. Maryland
Richard D. Bennett United States District Judge.
pending before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Leave
to File Amended Complaint (“Plaintiff's
Motion”) (ECF No. 75). Defendants have filed a Response
in Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion
(“Opposition”) (ECF No. 76), and Plaintiff has
filed his Reply (“Reply”) (ECF No. 80). The Court
has reviewed the parties' submissions, and no hearing is
necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2014). For
the reasons stated herein, Plaintiff's Motion is GRANTED
IN PART and DENIED IN PART.
James Calhoun-El (“Calhoun-El” or
“Plaintiff”) is an inmate at Western Correctional
Institution (“WCI”). He filed this case pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on December 12, 2013. (ECF No. 1.)
After briefing by the parties, this Court granted in part and
denied in part defendants' Motion to Dismiss or, in the
Alternative, for Summary Judgment on November 25, 2014. (ECF
Nos. 41, 42, 43.) The claims against Warden Frank Bishop and
Chief of Security Michael P. Thomas were dismissed with
prejudice, and Bishop and Thomas were dismissed from this
case. (ECF Nos. 42, 43.) Calhoun-El's claims of due
process violation, verbal harassment, and imminent danger of
harm were dismissed without prejudice. Id. As to the
remaining defendants, all correctional officers
(“correctional officer defendants”), summary
judgment on Calhoun-El's s excessive force claims was
denied without prejudice, subject to renewal. Summary
judgment was granted in favor of Defendants as to all
remaining claims. Id.
filed a Renewed Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 55),
which was denied on October 19, 2015. (ECF Nos. 64, 65.)
Pursuant to this Court's rulings on defendants'
motions for summary judgment, only plaintiff's claim of
excessive force remained in this case. See id.
litigate plaintiff's excessive force claim, this Court
appointed Bryan J. Harrison, Esq. as pro bono
counsel on October 30, 2015. (ECF No. 67.) On January 15,
2016, Timothy F. McCormick, Esq. also entered his appearance
as pro bono counsel for Plaintiff. (ECF No. 73.) On
June 23, 2016, Mr. Harrison filed a Notice of Withdrawal of
Appearance and is no longer involved in this case. (ECF No.
eight months after this Court's Order denying
defendants' Renewed Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF Nos.
64, 65) and nearly six months after defendants filed their
Answer (ECF No. 72), plaintiff filed his now-pending Motion
for Leave to File Amended Complaint (ECF No. 75).
Plaintiff's proposed Amended Complaint would replace
plaintiff's original, December 20, 2013 Complaint (ECF
No. 1), as subsequently modified by plaintiff (ECF Nos. 24,
38, 61, and 62) and limited by the orders of this Court
(ECF Nos. 43, 65.)The proposed Amended Complaint would be
plaintiff's first pleading filed with the assistance of
counsel. (ECF No. 75.)
15(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides the
general rules for amending pleadings. Specifically, Rule
15(a) requires that, after a responsive pleading is served, a
plaintiff may amend his complaint “by leave of court or
by written consent of the adverse party.” In general,
leave to amend a complaint pursuant to Rule 15(a) shall be
“freely” granted “when justice so
requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2); see Foman v.
Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962); Lance v. Prince
George's County, Md., 199 F.Supp.2d 297, 300-01 (D.
Md. 2002). The matter, however, is committed to the
discretion of the district court, and the district judge may
deny leave to amend “when the amendment would be
prejudicial to the opposing party, the moving party has acted
in bad faith, or the amendment would be futile.”
Equal Rights Center v. Niles Bolton Assocs., 602
F.3d 597, 603 (4th Cir. 2010); see also Simmons v. United
Mortg. & Loan Inv., LLC, 634 F.3d 754, 769 (4th Cir.
proposed Amended Complaint seeks to add new parties and new
claims to this case. (ECF No. 75.) While defendants oppose
Plaintiff's Motion in its entirety, they also raise
specific arguments in opposition to several of the proposed
amendments. (ECF No. 76.)
Defendants Are Not Liable in Their Official Capacities for
Alleged § 1983 Violations
Counts IX, X, XI, XIV, and XV of the proposed Amended
Complaint, plaintiff seeks to hold defendants liable in both
their individual and official capacities for alleged §
1983 violations. As set forth below, however, defendants are
entitled to a sovereign immunity defense on these claims.
suit against a state official in his or her official capacity
is not a suit against the official but rather is a suit
against the official's office. As such, it is no
different from a suit against the State itself.”
Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S.
58, 71 (1989) (citing Brandon v. Holt, 469 U.S. 464,
471 (1985)). See also Shiheed v. Gursky, No. CIV.A.
GLR-12-2974, 2015 WL 3752528, at *3 (D. Md. June 15, 2015).
Under the Eleventh Amendment to the United States
Constitution, a state, its agencies, and departments are
immune from suits in federal court brought by its citizens or
the citizens of another state, unless the state consents.
See Penhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman,
465 U.S. 89, 100 (1984). While the State of Maryland has
waived its sovereign immunity for certain actions brought in
state courts, it has not waived its immunity under the
Eleventh Amendment to suit in federal court pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983. See Md. Code Ann., State
Gov't § 12-104(a), § 12- 103(2). The Department
of Public Safety and Correctional Services is a state agency,
and Western Correctional Institution is its prison.
See Md. Code Ann., Corr. Servs. § 2-101; Md.
Code Ann., State Gov't § 8-201.
the proposed amendments to all counts are futile as they seek
to hold defendants liable in their official capacities for
§ 1983 violations-relief to which plaintiff is not
entitled as a matter of law. Thus, Plaintiff's Motion is
DENIED insofar as it seeks to hold defendants liable in their
official capacities for § 1983 violations in Counts IX,
X, XI, XIV, and XV.