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Wetzel v. Brown

United States District Court, Eighth Circuit

May 14, 2013

Joel Henry Wetzel, Plaintiff,
v.
Daniel Brown, Brian Koskovich, Jeremy Moser, and Corey Lee, Defendants.

ORDER

CHARLES S. MILLER, Jr., Magistrate Judge.

Before the court are two Motions to Amend, two Motions for Production, and a "Motion for Extension to Complete Discovery and File Discovery Motions" filed by the plaintiff, Joel Henry Wetzel ("Wetzel"). For the reason set forth below, the Motions to Amend are granted, the Motions for Production are denied, and the "Motion for Extension to Complete Discovery and File Discovery Motions" is granted.

I. BACKGROUND

On February 15, 2013, Wetzel filed a motion for an extension of time to amend his pleadings. On February 19, 2013, he filed with this court a copy of state district court order authorizing the North Dakota Department of Corrections to give him copies of his medical records. Attached to this order were documents captioned Additional Claims 1 through 9. In Additional Claims 1 through 8, Wetzel stated that he suffered the following injuries as a result of defendants' alleged conduct: multilevel small metal and bone spurs (Additional Claim 1); rectal damage (Additional Claim 2); right lung damage (Additional Claim 3); right kidney damage (Additional Claim 4); physical and mental pain (Additional Claim 5); an immunodeficiency (Additional Claim 7); and scarring (Additional Claim 8). (Docket No. 60-1 through 60-8). Attached to these documents were copies of incident reports, medical records, nursing notes, and photographs. In Additional Claim 9, he requested $111, 000 in compensatory damages and $1, 000, 000 in punitive damages from each defendant. (Docket No. 60-9).

On March 5, 2013, the court entered an order granting Wetzel's motion for an extension of time. In so doing, it advised Wetzel that it was not construing the documents captioned Additional Claims 1 through 9 as additional causes of action and that he would still need to obtain the court's permission before amending his complaint.

On March 18, 2013, Wetzel filed a motion to amend his pleadings to the include the aforementioned Additional Claims 1 through 9. On April 1, 2013, Wetzel filed second motion to amend his complaint to include claims for compensatory and punitive damages from each defendant.

On April 1, 2013, Wetzel filed a motion to compel discovery, to wit: "the four (4) Dickinson Police in-car video/audio tapes that are in evidence custody of the North Dakota Bureau of Investigation." (Docket No. 65). On April 12, 2013, he filed a motion to compel discovery from a non-party. He also filed a motion requesting that the court extend the deadline for completing discovery and filing discovery motions for another sixty days.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Motions to Amend

Wetzel has filed two motions with the court in which he seeks leave to amend his complaint in order to clarify his demand for compensatory damages, assert a claim for punitive damages, and otherwise incorporate "Additional Claims 1 through 9." Defendants have yet to file responses to either of Wetzel's motions. Their silence may be deemed an admission that the motions are well taken. D.N.D. Civ. L.R. 7.1(F).

Rule 15 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides in relevant part that "a party may amend the party's pleading only by leave of court or by written consent of the adverse party; and leave shall be freely given when justice so requires." Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a). It is generally left to the court's discretion whether to grant leave to amend the pleadings. Gamma-10 Plastics, Inc. v. American President Lines, Ltd. , 32 F.3d 1244, 1255 (8th Cir.1994). Unless there is a good reason for denial, such as undue delay, bad faith, or dilatory motive, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the non-moving party, or futility of the amendment, leave to amend is generally granted. Becker v. Univ. of Nebraska at Omaha , 191 F.3d 904, 908 (8th Cir. 1999). "Likelihood of success on the new claim or defenses is not a consideration for denying leave to amend unless the claim is clearly frivolous." Id.

1. Additional Claims 1 through 8

The court is not entirely convinced that, the demand for compensatory and punitive damages aside, it is Wetzel's intention to add new eight claims separate and apart from to what is already alleged in his original complaint. Rather, it appears that he simply wants to elaborate on the record about the extent of the injuries he alleges were caused by defendants' use of excessive force.

In any event, amendments proposed by Wetzel pose no appreciable prejudice and will not unduly delay final disposition of this matter. Consequently, the court is inclined to grant Wetzel's request to amend his complaint to add Additional Claims 1 through 8. What the court will not permit, ...


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