United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
J. HAZEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
proposed Amended Complaint, Plaintiff William Jeffrey Karn
now seeks to bring this action against Defendants PTS of
America, LLC d/b/a Prisoner Transportation of America
(“PTS”), Brevard Extraditions, LLC d/b/a/ U.S.
Prisoner Transport, Inc. (“U.S. Prisoner
Transport”), Jorge Santiago, Christopher Cabrera, James
Lebron, and Robert Mitchell King, Sr. (collectively,
“Defendants”), alleging various constitutional
violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, violations of
Articles 24 and 26 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights, and
state common law claims resulting from Defendants'
transport of Plaintiff, a pre-trial detainee, from Maryland
to South Carolina in December 2015. Presently pending before
the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File an
Amended Complaint, ECF No. 32. No. hearing is necessary.
See Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the following
reasons, Plaintiff's Motion shall be granted, in part,
and denied, in part.
about December 9, 2015, Plaintiff was arrested in Montgomery
County, Maryland for failure to timely pay child support in
Horry County, South Carolina. ECF No. 32-1 ¶ 15. On
December 23, 2015, Plaintiff waived an extradition hearing
and was taken to a facility in Montgomery County to await
transport to South Carolina. See id. ¶¶
15-16. Thereafter, Defendants transported Plaintiff to Horry
County by van. Plaintiff alleges that what should have been
an approximate seven hour, 418 mile drive turned into a nine
day, 2, 500 mile trip, during which time Plaintiff was
subjected to “horrendous physical and mental abuses,
including depriving him of restroom breaks and sleep,
indiscriminately dispensing pepper spray into the van, and
forcing him to sit for extended periods of time in his human
waste and the human waste of other prisoners.”
Id. at 2.
filed his initial eight-count Complaint on September 26, 2016
against PTS and unidentified individual drivers, sued
collectively as John Does #1-6. ECF No. 1. PTS filed an
Answer to Plaintiff's negligence claim, ECF No. 10, and
moved to dismiss the remaining claims. ECF No. 9. The Court
dismissed Plaintiff's state common law claims, 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 claim under the Fourth Amendment, both claims
under the Maryland Declaration of Rights, and the 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 claim under the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process
Clause against PTS. ECF No. 21. The Court allowed
Plaintiff's 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim under the
Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause to proceed against
the individual drivers, finding that Plaintiff adequately
alleged that the individual drivers subjected him to
unconstitutional conditions of confinement that amounted to
cruel and unusual punishment. ECF No. 21 at 16-19. The Court
further provided Plaintiff with the opportunity, through
discovery, to identify the individual drivers and amend the
Complaint accordingly. Id. at 16 n.5.
now moves to amend his Complaint and add individual drivers
Jorge Santiago, James Lebron, Christopher Cabrera, and Robert
King, Sr. as named defendants. ECF No. 32 ¶ 4. Plaintiff
also seeks to add U.S. Prisoner Transport, Inc., a
wholly-owned subsidiary of PTS and employer of three of the
individual drivers, as a named defendant. Id. ¶
5. Furthermore, Plaintiff seeks to supplement his Complaint
with additional factual allegations in support of his
previously-dismissed negligent hiring, training, and
supervision claim, § 1983 claim under the Fourteenth
Amendment against PTS, and claims under the Maryland
Declaration of Rights. Id. Based on these additional
factual allegations, Plaintiff's Amended Complaint
asserts the following claims: Negligence against all
Defendants (Count I); 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Due Process
Clause against PTS, U.S. Prisoner Transport, and the
individual officers in their official capacities (Count II);
42 U.S.C. § 1983 Due Process Clause against the
individual officers in their individual capacities (Count
III); Violation of Articles 24 and 26 of the Maryland
Declaration of Rights against all Defendants (Count IV); and
Negligent Training/Supervision/Retention against PTS and U.S.
Prisoner Transport (Count V). ECF No. 32-1.
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(2), plaintiffs may
amend their complaint with the court's leave.
“[T]he general rule is that leave to amend a complaint
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a) should be freely
given, unless the amendment would be prejudicial to the
opposing party, there has been bad faith on the part of the
moving party, or the amendment would have been futile.”
Steinburg v. Chesterfield Cnty. Planning Comm'n,
527 F.3d 377, 390 (4th Cir. 2008). A proposed amendment is
considered futile if it cannot withstand a motion to dismiss.
See Perkins v. United States, 55 F.3d 910, 917 (4th
Cir. 1995). PTS opposes Plaintiff's Motion with respect
to Counts II, IV, and V, arguing that the amended claims are
futile in light of the analysis underlying the Court's
prior dismissal. ECF No. 33 at 5.
a preliminary matter, PTS argues that because the Court
dismissed these claims without specifying if the dismissal
was with or without prejudice, the claims were effectively
dismissed with prejudice and cannot be re-litigated
through Plaintiff's Amended Complaint. Id. at 4.
In support of its argument, PTS points to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure Rule 41(b), which provides that any dismissal
“-except one for lack of jurisdiction, improper venue,
or failure to join a party under Rule 19-operates as an
adjudication on the merits.” Similarly, “[c]ourts
have held that, unless otherwise specified, a dismissal for
failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6) is presumed to
be both a judgment on the merits and to be rendered with
prejudice.” See McLean v. U.S., 566 F.3d 391,
396 (4th Cir. 2009); see also Carter v. Norfolk Cmty.
Hosp. Ass'n, 761 F.2d 970, 974 (4th Cir. 1985)
(“A district court's dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6)
is, of course, with prejudice unless it specifically orders
dismissal without prejudice.”).
neither Rule 41(b), nor the Court's presumptive dismissal
of certain claims with prejudice, prohibits Plaintiff from
amending his Complaint now. “Plaintiffs whose actions
are dismissed are free to subsequently move for leave to
amend pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(b) even
if the dismissal is with prejudice.” Abdul-Mumit v.
Alexandria Hyundai, LLC, -- F.3d --, Nos.
17-1582, 17-1587, 17-1611, 2018 WL 3405474, at *6 (4th Cir.
July 13, 2018) (citing Laber v. Harvey, 438 F.3d
404, 427-28 (4th Cir. 2006)). As recognized in
[a] district court may not deny [a motion to amend the
complaint] simply because it has entered judgment against the
plaintiff-be it a judgment of dismissal, a summary judgment,
or a judgment after a trial on the merits. . . . Instead, a
post-judgment motion to amend is evaluated under the same
legal standard as a similar motion filed before judgment was
entered-for prejudice, bad faith, or futility.
F.3d at 427 (citing Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178,
182 (1962)). Regardless of how the Court adjudicated
Plaintiff's claims in its initial Order, Rule 15 still
guides whether the Amended Complaint is proper. See
Matrix Capital Management Fund, L.P. v. BearingPoint,
Inc., 576 F.3d 172, 194 (4th Cir. 2009) (finding that
district court abused its discretion in denying leave to
amend claims dismissed with prejudice when court
“merely repeated the reasons it had previously offered
for dismissing the operative complaint . . . [and] made no
determinations about prejudice, bad faith, or futility with
respect to the proposed second amended complaint”).
Therefore, the Court's prior dismissal, even if presumed
to be with prejudice, does not automatically bar Plaintiff
from amending his Complaint.
regard to whether the amendments are proper, PTS does not
allege that Plaintiff's amendments will result in
prejudice or were made in bad faith. A trial date has not
been set, there remains ample time for additional discovery,
if needed, and Plaintiff only seeks to supplement his prior
claims with additional factual allegations. As such, the
Court has no basis to find that the amendments are
prejudicial or made in bad faith. See Laber, 438
F.3d at 426 (“[w]hether an amendment is prejudicial
will often be determined by the nature of the amendment and
its timing”); Edwards v. City of Goldsboro,
178 F.3d 231, 243 (4th Cir.1999) (noting that merely adding
specificity to allegations generally does not cause prejudice
to the opposing party). The Court must now assess whether the
amendments are futile.
Negligent Training, Supervision, and ...