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Wallace v. Smith

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

December 19, 2019

SHERNARD WALLACE, Plaintiff,
v.
WILLIAM SMITH; and C. BROWN, Defendants.

          ORDER

          Samuel H. Mays, Jr. United States District Judge.

         This is a § 1983 case asserting, inter alia, a claim of excessive force by City of Memphis police officers. On April 19, 2017, Plaintiff Shernard Wallace, an inmate at the Shelby County Criminal Justice Complex in Memphis, Tennessee, filed a pro se Complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (ECF No. 1.) Wallace filed an Amended Complaint on August 10, 2017. (ECF No. 7.) Wallace filed a Second Amended Complaint on January 8, 2018. (ECF No. 12.)

         Before the Court are four motions. In three motions (hereafter, Wallace's “Motions to Amend”), two filed on July 11, 2019 and one filed on August 15, 2019, Wallace seeks leave to file further amendments to his Second Amended Complaint. (ECF Nos. 38-39, 41.) In a fourth motion (hereafter, Wallace's “Second Motion for Reconsideration”), filed October 7, 2019, Wallace asks the Court to reconsider its previous order denying appointment of counsel. (ECF No. 42.)

         For the following reasons, Wallace's three Motions to Amend and his Second Motion for Reconsideration are DENIED.

         I. Background

         On May 4, 2016, Wallace was charged by the State of Tennessee with possession of cocaine with intent to manufacture, deliver or sell. (See Shelby County Criminal Justice System Portal, No. 1600343, https://cjs.shelbycountytn.gov/.) On May 5, 2016, Wallace was charged by the State of Tennessee with simple possession of cocaine and with resisting official detention. (Id.) On November 23, 2016, a state grand jury returned an indictment against Wallace on those charges. (Id.) On May 7, 2019, Wallace pled guilty to possession of a controlled substance. (Id.) The charge of possession of cocaine with intent to manufacture, deliver, or sell and the charge of resisting official detention were dismissed nolle prosequi. (Id.)

         Wallace alleges that on May 4, 2016, Defendant William Smith, a City of Memphis police officer, pulled up to Wallace's parked vehicle and advised Wallace that his front right headlight was out. (ECF No. 12-3 at 1.) Wallace alleges that he exited his vehicle and started to leave the scene and that Smith chased Wallace and caused Wallace to fall approximately twenty to twenty-five feet. (Id.) Wallace alleges that, during the chase, Defendant Chris Brown, another City of Memphis police officer, struck Wallace in the face several times and put him in a choke-hold while Smith punched Wallace in the side and back. (Id. at 3.) Wallace alleges that, after he had been placed in handcuffs, Smith and Brown continued to beat him. (Id.)

         On April 19, 2017, Wallace filed a pro se Complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (ECF No. 1.) On August 10, 2017, Wallace filed an Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 7.) On December 6, 2017, the Court dismissed the Amended Complaint but granted leave to amend. (ECF No. 10.) On January 8, 2018, Wallace filed a Second Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 12.) On April 30, 2018, the Court dismissed all but one of Wallace's claims in the Second Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 15.) The Court held that the Second Amended Complaint states a plausible excessive force claim under the Fourth Amendment against Defendants Brown and Smith. (Id. at 4.)

         On August 10, 2017, Wallace filed a motion for appointment of counsel. (ECF No. 8.) On December 6, 2017, the Court denied Wallace's motion for appointment of counsel. (ECF No. 10 at 8-9.) On July 23, 2018, Wallace moved for reconsideration of the Court's denial of his motion for appointment of counsel. (ECF No. 21.) On February 19, 2019, the Court denied Wallace's motion for reconsideration. (ECF No. 36.)

         Wallace moves for leave to amend his Second Amended Complaint to add new claims against Defendants Brown and Smith and putative defendants William L. Johnson and the State of Tennessee. (ECF Nos. 38-39, 41.) Wallace moves for reconsideration of the Court's prior order denying his motion for appointment of counsel. (ECF No. 42.)

         II. Standard of Review

         A. Motion to Amend

         A “court should freely give leave [to amend] when justice so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). Leave to amend may be denied when amendment would be futile. Beydoun v. Sessions, 871 F.3d 459, 469 (6th Cir. 2017). “A proposed amendment is futile if the amendment could not withstand a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss.” Id. (quoting Riverview Health Inst. LLC v. Med. Mut. of Ohio, 601 F.3d 505, 520 (6th Cir. 2010)).

         Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), when a prisoner files a civil complaint against “a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity, ” the Court must review the complaint and “dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint . . . is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. In asessing whether a complaint governed by the PLRA states a claim upon which relief may be granted, courts apply the pleading standards of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) as applied in Ashcroft v. Iqbal,556 U.S. 662 (2009), and Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly,550 U.S. 544 (2007). Hill v. Lappin,630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010). The Court accepts a complaint's well-pleaded factual allegations as true and determines whether the allegations “plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief.” Williams v. Curtin,631 F.3d 380, 383 (6th Cir. 2011) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 681). Conclusory allegations “are not entitled to the assumption of truth, ” and legal conclusions “must be supported by factual allegations.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. A complaint need only contain “a short ...


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