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Minick v. Metropolitan Gov't of Nashville & Davidson County

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

December 22, 2014

HEATHER MINICK, individually and as surviving spouse of MICHAEL MINICK, and as co-administrator of the Estate of Michael Minick, Plaintiff,
v.
METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENT OF NASHVILLE AND DAVIDSON COUNTY, TENNESSEE, CHRISTOPHER FOSTER, individually and in his official capacity, MATTHEW BARSHAW, individually and his official capacity; JEFFREY DAVIDSON, individually and his official capacity; MORRIS CRAVEN, individually and in his official capacity, Defendants

For Heather Minick, Individually, and as surviving spouse of Michael Minick, Deceased and as Co-Administrator of the Estate of Michael Minick, Plaintiff: James B. Moseley, LEAD ATTORNEY, Moseley & Moseley, Murfreesboro, TN; Luke A. Evans, LEAD ATTORNEY, Heather G. Parker, Bullock, Fly, Hornsby & Evans, Murfreesboro, TN; Steven B. Dozier, Law Office of S. Brad Dozier, Brentwood, TN.

For Christopher Foster, Individually and in his official capacity, Matthew Barshaw, Individually and in his official capacity, Defendants: Joseph A. Napiltonia, LEAD ATTORNEY, Law Office of Joe Napiltonia, Franklin, TN; Keli J. Oliver, Metropolitan Legal Department, Nashville, TN.

For Jeffrey Davidson, Individually and in his official capacity, Morris Craven, Individually and in his official capacity, Defendants: John M. L. Brown, LEAD ATTORNEY, Nashville, TN; Keli J. Oliver, Metropolitan Legal Department, Nashville, TN.

MEMORANDUM

ALETA A. TRAUGER, United States District Judge.

On December 1, 2014, the plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint that names Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County (" Metro Nashville") as a defendant. (Docket No. 170.) Metro Nashville has filed a Motion to Strike the Second Amended Complaint (Docket No. 173), to which the plaintiff has filed a Response in opposition (Docket No. 175). The plaintiff has filed a Motion for Leave to File a Third Amended Complaint (Docket No. 171), to which Metro Nashville has filed a Response in opposition. (Docket No. 175.) On December 12, 2014, the court held a discovery dispute telephone conference, which in part addressed the pending motions. For the reasons explained herein, the court will grant Metro Nashville's Motion to Strike, the Second Amended Complaint will be stricken, the court will grant in part and deny in part the plaintiff's Motion for Leave, and the court will order the plaintiff to file a Revised Second Amended Complaint that includes only the Sheriff's Statute claim.

BACKGROUND

I. Overview

The basic factual background and extensive procedural history of this case is summarized in previous opinions, familiarity with which is assumed. ( See Docket Nos. 117, 156, and 167.)

Briefly, the plaintiff, Heather Minick, is the surviving spouse of Michael Minick (" Minick"). According to the operative Amended Complaint, on May 30, 2011, Minick was arrested and transported to Nashville General Hospital (" NGH") under the custody of the Davidson County Sheriff's Office (" DCSO"). At the hospital, Minick was restrained to his hospital bed within the hospital's " lock up" area pending treatment for a condition not specified in the Amended Complaint.[1] Defendant DCSO Officer Christopher Foster was assigned to guard Minick. Ostensibly because Minick was swearing and not staying in his bed, Officer Foster called for assistance, and DCSO Officers Matthew Barshaw, Jeffrey Davidson, and Morris Craven responded. After conferring outside the room, all four officers entered the room, closed the door, and allegedly sprayed Minick in the face with chemical spray, forcefully took him to the floor, and struck him in the face and other parts of his body until he stopped breathing, stopped moving, defecated on himself, and began turning blue from asphyxiation. NGH medical staff responded and restored Minick's heartbeat, but he was left in a coma and died on July 2, 2011 of complications stemming from the incident.

On May 24, 2012, the plaintiff and Minick's mother, Doris Hawkins-Tweed, brought § 1983 claims against numerous defendants, including DCSO Sheriff Daron Hall, among others. Subsequently, (1) several defendants and Ms. Hawkins-Tweed were dismissed voluntarily (Docket Nos. 73 (DCSO), 74 (Metro Nashville Police Department), and 80-81 (Hawkins-Tweed)), (2) the court dismissed additional defendants under Rule 12(b)(6) or Rule 56 (Docket No. 118) (Corrections Corporation of America, Neil Wolfe, Chief of Police Steve Anderson, NGH Nurses Cynthia Allison, Ben Baggett, and Todd Ewing), and (3) following an interlocutory appeal, the Sixth Circuit reversed this court's denial of qualified immunity to NGH Unit Secretary Mailena Mason on one claim, resulting in her dismissal from the case (Docket No. 127).[2] After this sequence of events was completed, only the Individual DCSO Officers and Metro Nashville remained as defendants.[3]

II. The CMO, the Amended Complaint, and Motion for Leave to Amend

Following remand from the Sixth Circuit, the court held an initial case management conference, entered an Initial Case Management Order (" CMO") (Docket No. 137) and set the case for trial (Docket No. 138). In the CMO, the court set the following deadlines: July 1, 2014 to file motions for leave to amend, November 1, 2014 to complete fact discovery, December 1, 2014 for the plaintiff to serve expert disclosures, February 1, 2015 for the defendants to serve their expert disclosures, and April 15, 2015 for dispositive motions. The court also set a trial date of August 25, 2015, which the parties expect will last 7 to 10 days.

On April 2, 2014, the plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint with leave of court. (Docket No. 143.) In addition to claims against the Individual DCSO Officers, the Amended Complaint asserted claims against Metro Nashville for supervisory liability under § 1983, for vicarious liability under the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act (" TGTLA"), and for vicarious liability under Tenn. Code Ann. § 8-8-302, commonly referred to as the " Sheriff's Statute."

On April 8, 2014, Metro Nashville filed a Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint under Rule 12(b)(6). (Docket No. 144.) On August 4, 2014, the court granted the motion. (Docket No. 157.) The court dismissed the TGTLA claim with prejudice based on sovereign immunity, dismissed the § 1983 claim without prejudice for failure to state a claim, and dismissed the Sheriff's Statute claim without prejudice for failure to state a claim.

On August 5, 2014 (the next day), the plaintiff sought leave to file a Second Amended Complaint that would have (1) included amended allegations supporting a Sheriff's Statute claim, and (2) reasserted a claim against DCSO Sheriff Daron Hall, who had been dismissed from the case on November 19, 2012 (nearly two years earlier). While the motion was pending, counsel for Metro Nashville did not participate in the plaintiff's August 14, 2014 deposition, but did participate in depositions of the Individual DCSO Officers on August 20 and defended the depositions of multiple Metro Nashville non-party corporate representatives on August 21. ( See Docket No. 173, Ex. A.)

On October 8, 2014, the court granted in part and denied in part the plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Amend. (Docket No. 168.) The proposed Sheriff's Statute claim against Metro Nashville was allowed to proceed, but the proposed claim against Sheriff Hall was held untimely and, therefore, futile. Accordingly, the court permitted the plaintiff until October 15, 2014 to file a Second Amended Complaint that would include only the proposed Sheriff Statute claim.

Despite the court's order, the plaintiff did not file an amended pleading, and the October 15, 2014 deadline passed. As it had been since the court's August 4, 2014 Order dismissing the Amended Complaint allegations ...


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