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Whitfield v. Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division

December 4, 2019




         BEFORE THE COURT are Plaintiff Larry E. Whitfield, Jr.'s Motion [59] for Leave to Amend; Motion [64] for Summary Judgment; and Motions [66] [67] [73] [83] for Joinder. This suit arises out of a traffic stop conducted by Defendant Officer D. Rice, following which Plaintiff was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia. Plaintiff Larry E. Whitfield, Jr. alleges that during this traffic stop Defendant Officer D. Rice attacked him, placed him in a chokehold causing him to lose consciousness, and stepped on the back of his neck.

         After due consideration of the record, Plaintiff's Motions, and relevant legal authority, the Court is of the opinion that Plaintiff Whitfield's Motion [59] for Leave to Amend and Motions [66] [67] [73] [83] for Joinder should be denied. Further, Plaintiff's Motion [64] for Summary Judgment should be denied without prejudice.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On December 7, 2017, Plaintiff Larry E. Whitfield, Jr. (“Whitfield” or “Plaintiff”) filed a pro se Complaint [1] in this Court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, naming the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics (“MBN”) as the sole Defendant. Compl. [1] at 1. Without any explanation or setting forth any facts, Whitfield alleged that he was deprived of his right to a trial, endured torture and abuse, and was unjustly imprisoned, including being placed in solitary confinement. Id. at 2. The Complaint sought monetary damages for pain and suffering and lost wages. Id.

         On February 7, 2018, Whitfield filed an Attachment to the Complaint, purporting to add further factual allegations in support of his claims. Attach. [10] to Compl. Whitfield claimed that he was pulled over by the MBN while driving in Jackson, Mississippi, on June 28, 2017, and was arrested, placed in custody “of a Sheriff Law Officer, ” and transported to the Hinds County Detention Center. Id. Whitfield subsequently sought permission to proceed in forma pauperis, at which point the Magistrate Judge required him to answer a Questionnaire. On March 29, 2018, Whitfield answered the Magistrate Judge's Questionnaire and clarified his claims. Pl.'s Resp. [17].

         In an Order [26] dated April 27, 2018, the Magistrate Judge construed the arguments, assertions, and legal bases presented in Whitfield's Response [17] to the Questionnaire as an amendment to his Complaint, Order [26] at 1, and ordered that MBN Officer D. Rice (“Rice”) and MBN Officer Unknown be added as Defendants, Order [26] at 1-2. On May 15, 2018, the MBN responded to the Magistrate's Order [26] indicating that it was unable to execute a waiver of service for MBN Officer Unknown because he was not employed by the MBN; however, it identified the Officer Unknown as “Juan Chapa, Hinds County Sheriff's Department.” Resp. [29] to Order [26]. The Court then added Officer Juan Chapa as a Defendant.

         According to Whitfield's Questionnaire [17], Officer Rice pulled him over after he swerved to miss a pothole. Plaintiff consented to a search of his vehicle, during which Officer Rice discovered drug paraphernalia. Pl.'s Resp. to Questionnaire [17] at 2. Although Plaintiff was not under arrest, Officer Rice allegedly gave Officer Chapa permission to perform a cavity search, but Whitfield refused the Officers' request for consent to search him. Id. at 3. Officer Rice then allegedly “attacked him” and put “his hands around his throat.” Id. Whitfield was placed under arrest, and while he was lying on his stomach, Officer Rice “stepped on the back of [Whitfield's] neck applying pressure.” Id. Whitfield was booked and charged with possession of drug paraphernalia.

         Plaintiff has filed many documents which all appear in some fashion to be an attempt to add claims to the Complaint [1]. First, Plaintiff filed Document [34] to amend his Complaint “as a matter of right, ” to add a claim for punitive damages. Subsequently, Plaintiff filed numerous other Motions [35] [47] [48] [51]. Additionally, Plaintiff filed Document [44] entitled “Pleadings, ” which the Clerk filed as a Rebuttal [44] to Officer Chapa's Motion [38] for Judgment on the Pleadings. This Court denied these Motions [34] [35] [47] [48] [51] to Amend without prejudice, permitting Plaintiff thirty days “in which to file a motion to amend his Complaint and attach a single proposed amended complaint stating all of his claims in one pleading.” Order [58].

         Since the entry of that Order, Plaintiff has again filed several documents which appear to be efforts to add claims to this Complaint. Plaintiff filed a Motion [59] for Leave to Amend, to which Defendant Officer D. Rice has filed an Opposition [61]. In his Reply [63] to Defendant's Opposition, Plaintiff attempted to add claims and facts to his Complaint. Plaintiff has tried to further amend his Complaint via his Motions [66] [67] [73] [83] for Joinder and has filed a Motion [64] for Summary Judgment, which Defendant has Opposed [65].


         A. Plaintiff's Motion [59] for Leave to Amend should be denied.

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15 allows a party to amend its pleading once as a matter of course within either twenty-one days after serving the pleading or within twenty-one days after service of a responsive pleading or motion. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1). In any other instance, a party may amend its pleading “only with the opposing party's written consent or the court's leave.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). Courts, however, freely give leave to amend a complaint “when justice so requires.” Id. In exercising its discretion to grant or deny leave to amend, a court may consider whether the party seeking leave is doing so in bad faith, after undue delay, or for a dilatory motive. See Jamieson By and Through Jamieson v. Shaw, 772 F.2d 1205, 1208 (5th Cir. 1985). In addition, “[i]t is within the district court's discretion to deny a motion to amend if it is futile.” Stripling v. Jordan Prod. Co., LLC, 234 F.3d 863, 872-73 (5th Cir. 2000). Futility means “that the amended complaint would fail to state a claim upon which relief could be granted.” Id. To determine futility, the court “appl[ies] the same standard of legal sufficiency as applies under Rule 12(b)(6).” Id.

         On May 24, 2018, Plaintiff filed a Motion [34] to Amend as a matter of right. Plaintiff then filed numerous other Documents [35] [47] [48] [51] purporting to assert new facts or causes of action or seeking leave of Court to amend. The Court previously denied Plaintiff's motions without prejudice, but permitted him “thirty (30) days from the date of this Order in which to file a motion to amend his Complaint and attach a single proposed amended complaint stating all of hisclaims in one pleading.” Order [58] at 7 (emphasis added); see ...

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