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Floyd v. Broward County Sheriff's Department

United States District Court, S.D. Florida

August 28, 2019




         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on the Defendant's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings [ECF No. 65] and the Plaintiff's Motion to Amend Complaint [ECF No. 68]. The Court has carefully reviewed these Motions, the parties' other filings, the record, and the applicable law. For the reasons that follow, the Court will deny the Plaintiff's Motion to Amend, grant the Defendant's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings as to the Plaintiff's federal claims, and decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the Plaintiff's state-law claims.

         The Facts

         On August 22, 2018, the Plaintiff, Michael Floyd, brought this action for damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Broward County Sheriff's Department (the “Department”) and an indeterminate number of “John Doe” deputy officers employed by that Department. Compl. [ECF No. 1]. On January 2, 2019, the Honorable Cecilia M. Altonaga granted the Plaintiff's Motion to Amend Complaint. [ECF No. 19]. The next day, the Plaintiff filed an amended § 1983 complaint against Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel and the John Doe officers. Am. Compl. [ECF No. 20]. On January 9, 2019, Judge Altonaga entered a Scheduling Order that required the parties to file all motions to amend pleadings, or to join parties, by February 20, 2019. [ECF No. 32] at 1.

         On January 21, 2019, again with the Court's leave, the Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint (“SAC”) against Sheriff Israel and the John Doe officers. See SAC [ECF No. 39]. This SAC remains the operative pleading in the case. In the SAC, the Plaintiff alleges that he was arrested and held in custody at the Broward County Main Jail's Central Intake, where some of the John Doe officers handcuffed, shackled, punched, kicked, and pepper sprayed him. Id. at 3-4. Some other John Doe officers allegedly failed to intervene to stop this attack and, as such, deprived him of necessary medical care. Id. at 8-9. Regarding the John Doe officers' identities, the SAC says only that “Plaintiff is ignorant of the true name and capacities of defendants sued here as John Doe officers, inclusive and therefore sues said defendants by such fictitious names. Plaintiff will amend the complaint to allege true names and capacities when ascertained.” Id. at 2.

         In total, the SAC asserts five causes of action against all of the Defendants: Counts I and II make claims for state-law battery and assault, respectively; Count III alleges excessive use of force, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983; Count IV alleges deliberate indifference to medical needs, also in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983; and Count V contends that the Defendants failed to intervene and stop the constitutional violations described in Counts III and IV. Id. at 5-9. With respect to Sheriff Israel, the SAC avers that the Plaintiff's incarceration occurred “while under the supervision of Scott Israel, ” id. at 4, and thus concludes that Sheriff Israel “is liable for [the Department's] custom and practices of permitting and encouraging such acts, ” id. at 1. Critically, the SAC contains no other factual allegations about Sheriff Israel.[1]

         On February 21, 2019, Judge Altonaga granted a motion by Sheriff Israel to strike the SAC's claims, in Counts I and II, for punitive damages. [ECF No. 54]. In that same order, Judge Altonaga dismissed the John Doe officers without prejudice after concluding that “Plaintiff has failed to perfect service on them at any point since the initial Complaint was filed on August 22, 2018, nor has he sought to discover their identities with any discovery propounded upon Scott Israel or third parties.” Id. Notably, this order was entered after the Court's February 20, 2019 deadline to amend pleadings, or to join parties, had expired. On April 11, 2019, Judge Altonaga transferred this case to the undersigned [ECF No. 55].

         On June 13, 2019, the Court held a status conference. See [ECF No. 62]. During that status conference, counsel for the Plaintiff raised an ore tenus motion to amend the complaint for a third time-this time, to include the John Doe officers' names and to re-join them as parties to the action. The Court, noting both Judge Altonaga's dismissal of the John Doe officers and the expiration of the amendment deadline, told Plaintiff's counsel that his motion would be granted only upon a showing of “good cause.” See Fed. R. Civ. P. 16(b)(4). In response, counsel explained that he had only recently obtained the officers' names through discovery. When pressed by the Court, however, counsel acknowledged that he had not sought discovery on the officers' identities prior to the expiration of the February 20th amendment deadline. The Court found that counsel had failed to furnish “good cause” to reopen the long-expired deadline and denied the motion without prejudice.

         Two weeks later, on June 27, 2019, Sheriff Israel, the only remaining Defendant, moved under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c) for a judgment on the pleadings. Mot. for Judgment on Pleadings [ECF No. 65]. On August 7, 2019, the Plaintiff filed a motion for leave to file a Third Amended Complaint. See Mot. to Amend [ECF No. 68]. The Motion to Amend attaches a proposed Third Amended Complaint, which identifies the John Doe officers by name. Both motions are now fully briefed and ripe for resolution.

         The Law

         “A motion for judgment on the pleadings is governed by the same standard as a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6).” Carbone v. Cable News Network, Inc., 910 F.3d 1345, 1350 (11th Cir. 2018). When ruling on a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court must accept the complaint's factual allegations as true and must construe them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See, e.g., Michel v. NYP Holdings, Inc., 816 F.3d 686, 694 (11th Cir. 2016). To survive a motion to dismiss, the complaint's factual allegations “must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level”-with “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 570 (2007). Under this standard, bare legal conclusions “are not entitled to the assumption of truth” and are insufficient, standing alone, to state a claim. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009). Moreover, “[w]here a complaint pleads facts that are merely consistent with a defendant's liability, it stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.” Id. at 678 (internal quotation marks omitted).


         I. The Plaintiff's Motion to Amend

         In his Motion to Amend, the Plaintiff asks the Court to modify its January 9, 2019 Scheduling Order, which established February 20, 2019 as the deadline for the parties to amend their pleadings or to join other parties.[2]See Fed. R. Civ. P. 16(b)(3)(A). This deadline “may be modified only for good cause and with the judge's consent.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(4). But, despite Rule 16's unambiguous admonition, the Plaintiff's Motion to Amend-filed more than five ...

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