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Brett Randolph Pike v. Isci Warden Johanna Smith

September 17, 2012

BRETT RANDOLPH PIKE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ISCI WARDEN JOHANNA SMITH, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Ronald E. Bush U. S. Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

Pending before the Court in this prisoner civil rights matter are Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. 17), Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Amend Complaint (Dkt. 19), and Defendant's Motion to Strike (Dkt. 24).

The parties have consented to a United States Magistrate Judge conducting all proceeding under 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). (Dkt. 14.) The Court finds that the parties have adequately stated the facts and legal arguments in their briefs and that the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument. In the interest of avoiding delay, the Court will decide this matter on the written motions, briefs, and record without oral argument. D. Idaho L. Civ. R. 7.1.

For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's Motion to Amend will be granted, Defendant's Motion to Strike will be denied, and Defendant's Motion to Dismiss will be denied.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is a prisoner in the custody of the Idaho Department of Correction (IDOC), presently incarcerated at South Idaho Correctional Institution. (Dkt. 3, p. 3.) When he arrived in IDOC custody on December 23, 2010, he was placed in the Reception and Diagnostic Unit (RDU) at the Idaho State Correctional Institution, where he would remain for the next six weeks. (Id. at 3-4.)

Plaintiff contends that he was issued only a "thin cotton jumpsuit" and "flimsy shoes with cracked soles" to wear. (Dkt. 3, p. 3.) In the first week he had to walk outside for 350 yards three times a day for meals. (Id.) During that time, he was exposed "to rain, snow, hail, fierce winds, and temperatures well below freezing," the lowest of which was 5 degrees. (Id.) As a result, Plaintiff experienced "shivering, teeth chattering, and numbness of extremities." (Id. at 4.) He alleges that when he and other inmates complained about the situation, Correctional Officer S. Jenkins told them that "it would be futile to file a concern form or grievance as the warden [Defendant Johanna Smith] was aware of the situation." (Id.)

Plaintiff was issued a jacket on December 30, 2010, and a hat on January 4, 2011, which ameliorated some of the harsher conditions. (Id.) His "lower body was still essentially exposed," however, and his shoes "allowed freezing water to infiltrate and saturate my socks resulting in pain and numbness." (Id.) On February 3, 2011, he was moved into the general population, where he was "issued denim pants and sneakers which did not leak." (Id.)

On May 10, 2011, Plaintiff filed a Prisoner Civil Rights Complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Warden Johanna Smith, alleging that she had a "policy of not providing adequate clothing to RDU inmates," in violation of the Eighth Amendment. (Dkt. 3.) The Court reviewed the Complaint and permitted the claim to go forward, but it denied Plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis and his request for appointment of counsel. (Dkt. 7.) Plaintiff has paid the full filing fee, and Jeremiah Hudson has entered an appearance as Plaintiff's counsel. (Dkt. 9.)

Defendant Smith has since filed an Answer (Dkt. 11), followed by a Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. 17). In her Motion, Defendant argues that Plaintiff failed to exhaust the administrative remedies that were available to him within IDOC before filing his lawsuit. (Dkt. 17-1, pp. 3-5.) Additionally, Defendant argues Plaintiff's claim against her in her official capacity for monetary damages is effectively a claim against the state of Idaho, which must be dismissed because Idaho is immune from liability under the Eleventh Amendment. (Id. at 5-7.)

After receiving Defendant's Motion, Plaintiff requested leave to amend his Complaint to reflect that he intends to sue Defendant in her individual capacity for damages as well as in her official capacity for prospective injunctive relief. (Dkt. 19.) He also submitted an affidavit opposing dismissal, portions of which Defendant seeks to have stricken from the record as inadmissible hearsay. (Dkt. 24.)

The Court is fully advised in these matters and is now prepared to issue its ruling.

PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO AMEND

1. Standard of Law

Rule 15(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that, after the initial period for amendments as of right, pleadings may be amended only with the consent of the opposing party or by leave of court, which shall be given freely "when justice so requires." Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2). In deciding whether to allow an amendment, a court must assess four factors: bad faith, undue delay, prejudice to the opposing party, and futility of amendment." Ditto v. McCurdy, 510 F.3d 1070 (9th Cir. 2007) (citations omitted). There is a general presumption in favor of granting leave to amend. Eminence Capital, LLC v. Aspeon, Inc., 316 F.3d 1048, 1052 (9th Cir. 2003). In addition,"a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007).

2. Discussion

Plaintiff seeks an order allowing him to file his proposed Amended Complaint solely to clarify that he is suing Johanna Smith in her official capacity for injunctive relief and in her individual capacity for monetary relief. (Dtk. 20, p. 2.) In support, he asserts that "at the time he filed his [pro se] Complaint, Plaintiff was unaware that he would be barred from seeking monetary relief by failing to add Johanna Smith in her individual capacity in the caption of his Complaint." (Id.)

Defendant objects to the Motion, arguing that the proposed amendment is futile because "there is no nexus between any action or inaction alleged against Defendant and any alleged constitutional deprivation sustained by Plaintiff" and because Defendant is shielded from a claim for monetary damages by the doctrine of qualified immunity. (Dkt. 25, pp. 3-5.) Defendant does not contend that Plaintiff is acting in bad faith, has unduly delayed proposing the amendment, or that she would be prejudiced. After weighing the requisite factors and considering the parties' arguments, the Court finds that the proposed amendment would not be clearly futile.

Defendant first contends that Plaintiff has not set forth sufficient facts showing that she participated personally in a constitutional violation, and because there is no respondeat superior liability under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983, Plaintiff has not alleged a claim against her on which monetary ...


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