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Thomas v. Fayette County

United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Western Division

February 10, 2017

CAROLINE THOMAS, Plaintiff,
v.
FAYETTE COUNTY, et. al, Defendants.

          ORDER ADOPTING THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION FOR PARTIAL SUA SPONTE DISMISSAL

          JOHN T. FOWLKES, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         On October 6, 2016, Plaintiff Caroline Thomas, proceeding pro se, filed a complaint against numerous (23) defendants[1] alleging violations of her civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, along with a motion to proceed in forma pauperis.[2] (ECF Nos. 1 & 3). On October 7, 2016, the matter was referred to the Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915 (e)(2)(B) and L.R. 4.1(b)(2). On December 5, 2016, the Plaintiff filed a Motion to Amend and Supplement Complaint and for Joinder of Additional Defendants. (ECF No. 8). On December 19, 2016, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation that the Court dismiss sua sponte all of Thomas' state and federal claims other than her 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims against Defendants Fayette County and Sheriff Bobby Riles for deliberate indifference to her medical needs under the Fourteenth Amendment. The Magistrate Judge also denied Plaintiff's motion to amend her complaint to join any additional defendants. (ECF No. 12). On January 18, 2017, the undersigned Court granted Plaintiff's motion for additional time to file objections which were submitted on January 31, 2017. (ECF Nos. 16 and 18).

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Congress passed 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) “to relieve some of the burden on the federal courts by permitting the assignment of certain district court duties to magistrates.” See e.g. Baker v. Peterson, 67 Fed. App'x. 308, 311, 2003 WL 21321184 (6th Cir. 2003) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a). A United States District Judge may refer certain dispositive pretrial motions to a United States Magistrate Judge for submission of proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and (C); Brown v. Wesley Quaker Maid, Inc., 771 F.2d 952, 957 (6th Cir. 1985). While most actions by a Magistrate Judge are reviewed for clear error, dispositive recommendations to the District Court Judge are reviewed de novo. Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 141-42 (1985). In applying the de novo standard, Congress afforded the district judge sound discretion to rely on the Magistrate Judge's proposed findings and determinations. U.S. v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667, 676 (1980).

         A District Court Judge shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made. Therefore, the District Judge may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the Magistrate Judge. The judge may also receive further evidence or recommit the matter to the Magistrate Judge with instructions. See 28 U.S.C. §636 (b)(1)(B) and (C); Fed. Rule Civ. P. 72(b); Baker v. Peterson, 67 Fed. App'x. 308, 311 (6th Cir. 2003). The Court need not conduct a de novo hearing, but must make a de novo determination based on the record only to matters involving disputed facts and findings. Mira, 806 F.2d at 637. Also, de novo review is not required when the objections to the report and recommendation are frivolous, conclusive or general. Mira v. Marshall, 806 F.2d 636, 637 (6th Cir. 1986).

         III. FACTUAL HISTORY

         The Magistrate Judge's report and recommendation offers an extensive overview of the case as proposed findings of fact. Plaintiff submitted objections which do not challenge any of the proposed findings of fact. (ECF No. 12, pp. 3-9 and ECF No. 18). As such, the Court adopts the Magistrate Judge's proposed findings of fact as the factual summary of this case.

         IV. ANALYSIS

         Plaintiff's Request to Amend the Complaint

         Plaintiff includes in her response to the Magistrate Judge's report and recommendation, a second Motion for Leave to Amend and Supplement her complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2), 15(d), and 20(a)(2) and a proposed Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 18, pp. 10-52). She requests leave to amend to add a Fifth Amendment equal protection claim against “DOE and DOE officials [in their individual and official capacities] for failing to treat Plaintiff fairly and equally” and to join Bev Holloway as a party Defendant. (ECF No. 18, pp. 1-9).

         Plaintiff's prior motion to amend requested leave to add Bev Holloway as a Defendant. The Magistrate Judge denied Plaintiff's request to add any additional defendants, including Bev Holloway, who entered her property and removed 78 trees on October 17, 2016, as improper joinder under Fed.R.Civ.P. 15. Plaintiff's request to include a Fifth Amendment claim has also been considered by the Magistrate Judge who recommended in her report and recommendation that it be dismissed as lacking merit. (ECF No. 12, pp. 22 and 39).

         Plaintiff now contends that additional and newly discovered facts support adding a Fifth Amendment claim against DOE, DOE officials and the joinder of Bev Holloway as a party Defendants. Plaintiff again asserts that the additional facts relate to property that was removed from her land, support her current claims and justify adding more Defendants to her complaint. (ECF No. 18, pp. 3-5). Plaintiff's latest motion to amend her complaint is again Denied.

         It would be futile to add Holloway or any other Defendant associated with the October 17, 2016 incident. The case currently before the Court involves the events that occurred after Plaintiff's municipal hearing on October 7, 2016, through October 9, 2016, the length of her subsequent detention at the Fayette County Jail. The incidents regarding the removal of trees on her property does not involve the same facts and circumstances for which she has filed § 1983 claims against Fayette County and its employees for deprivation of medical care in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.

         Plaintiff's ...


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