United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division
OPINION AND ORDER
CAMERON McGOWAN CURRIE SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUD.
matter is before the court on Plaintiff's Motion for
Reconsideration and Motion for leave to Amend the Complaint.
ECF Nos. 99, 100. Defendant filed a response in opposition to
both motions (ECF No. 106) and Plaintiff has filed a reply
(ECF No. 107). These motions are now ripe for resolution.
Motion for Reconsideration
motion for reconsideration, Plaintiff argues Defendant should
not have been allowed to file an Amended Answer and Renewed
Motion for Summary Judgment based on res judicata and
collateral estopped, and the court “was estopped for
filing an affirmative defense that was waived by
defendant.” ECF No. 100 at 1-2. He argues he was not
put on notice of the affirmative defense because it was not
raised in Defendant's Answer, and equitable estoppel
“precludes a party from asserting rights he otherwise
would have had against another when his own conduct renders
assertion of those rights contrary to equity.”
Id. at 3. Defendant responded, arguing the motion
for reconsideration should be denied because Plaintiff
“does not present any arguments which merit
reconsideration, ” but reiterates previously made
arguments. ECF No. 106 at 1. Defendant also argues Plaintiff
cannot raise an argument against the amendment of the Answer
under Rule 8(c) because he had an opportunity to do so
previously but did not. Id. at 2. Plaintiff filed a
reply. ECF No. 107.
Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has interpreted Rule 59(e) of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to allow the court to
alter or amend an earlier judgment: “(1) to accommodate
an intervening change in controlling law; (2) to account for
new evidence not available at trial; or (3) to correct a
clear error of law or prevent manifest injustice.”
Becker v. Westinghouse Savannah River Co., 305 F.3d
284, 290 (4th Cir. 2002) (quoting Pac. Ins. Co. v. Am.
Nat'l Fire Ins. Co., 148 F.3d 396, 403 (4th Cir.
1998)). “Rule 59(e) motions may not be used, however,
to raise arguments which could have been raised prior to the
issuance of judgment, nor may they be used to argue a case
under a novel theory that the party had the ability to
address in the first instance.” Pac. Ins. Co., 148 F.3d
at 403. Relief under Rule 59(e) is “an extraordinary
remedy which should be used sparingly.” Id.
(internal marks omitted). “Mere disagreement does not
support a Rule 59(e) motion.” Becker, 305 F.3d at 290
(quoting Hutchinson v. Stanton, 994 F.2d 1076, 1082
(4th Cir. 1993)).
court will deny Plaintiff's motion to reconsider, as
there are no grounds to justify reconsideration. Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(c) is not a change in controlling law, and the court was
aware of this Rule when it allowed Defendant to amend the
Answer, even if Plaintiff had not raised it explicitly.
However, the court found the issue of res judicata/collateral
estoppel necessary to address, as a matter of law, before
proceeding to trial. As explained in the court's previous
order, Plaintiff's claims regarding his dental treatment,
or lack thereof, were fully heard in state court, which
precludes an action on the same grounds in this court.
Further, although Plaintiff argues there was no authority for
Defendant to file an Amended Answer and a Renewed Motion for
Summary Judgment, these were specifically authorized by the
court. For these reasons, Plaintiff's motion to
reconsider is denied.
Motion for Leave to Amend the Complaint
also filed a motion for leave to amend his Second Amended
Complaint to include two new Defendants: Linda Freeman,
Dental Assistant at McCormick Correctional Institution, and
Dr. William Akerman, Director of Dental Service at the
Institution. ECF No. 99. In addition, he wishes to amend to
add two additional causes of action: deliberate indifference
against Dr. Krebs for failing to notify the Director, Dr.
Akerman “for a resolution for the backlogged situation,
” and deliberate indifference against Dr. Akerman for
failing to assure adequate dental care. ECF No. 99-3 at 1-2.
responded in opposition, arguing the proposed amendments
would “encompass the same arguments” already
alleged by Plaintiff in his state court action, and thus res
judicata/collateral estopped would apply to the proposed new
claims as well. ECF No. 106 at 3. Therefore, Defendant
argues, the proposed amendments would be futile. Id.
Plaintiff filed a reply, noting Ms. Freeman and Dr. Akerman
were “mentioned late in this litigation as a defense
for Defendant Krebs, and may be just as responsible as
Defendant Krebs in this matter.” ECF No. 107 at 2. He
also contends Dr. Akerman noted in his affidavit Defendant
Krebs is not an employee of the South Carolina Department of
Corrections, “which creates a new cause of action and
new cause for discovery.” Id.
Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a) provides that leave to amend a
pleading should be “freely give[n] . . . when justice
so requires.” The Fourth Circuit has held “that
leave to amend a pleading should be denied only when the
amendment would be prejudicial to the opposing party, there
has been bad faith on the part of the moving party, or the
amendment would be futile.” Edwards v. City of
Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 242 (4th Cir. 1999).
“Futility is apparent if the proposed amended complaint
fails to state a claim under the applicable rules and
accompanying standards . . . that is, if the proposed amended
complaint fails to satisfy the requirements of the federal
rules.” Katyle v. Penn. Nat. Gaming, Inc., 637
F.3d 462, 471 (4th Cir. 2011) (internal citations omitted).
judicata is also known as claim preclusion, and bars
relitigation of claims that were or could have been raised in
a prior proceeding between the same parties. Collateral
estoppel, or issue preclusion, bars the relitigation of
specific issues that were actually determined in a prior
action. Sartin v. Macik, 535 F.3d 284, 287 (4th Cir.
court agrees with Defendant the proposed amendments are
futile. Claims regarding Plaintiff's dental treatment at
McCormick are barred by res judicata and collateral estoppel,
as explained in the court's Order granting summary
judgment to Defendant Krebs. See ECF No. 96. Changing or
adding defendants, causes of action, or theories of recovery
do not make a cause of action viable when the factual basis
underlying the event at issue has already been litigated.
See Harnett v. Billman, 800 F.2d 1308, 1314 (4th
Cir. 1986) (“[C]laims may arise out of the same
transaction or series of events even if they involve
different harms or different theories or measures of
relief.”); S.C. Public Interest Found. v.
Greenville Cty., 737 S.E.2d 502, 508 (S.C. Ct. App.
2013) (claim preclusion applies “with respect to all or
any part of the transaction, or series of connected
transactions, out of which the first action arose, even when
the plaintiff is prepared to present a theory in the second
action not presented in the first action.”) (internal
citation omitted). In addition, regardless of whether Dr.
Krebs or the proposed additional Defendants were actually
employees of the South Carolina Department of Corrections,
they have the same interest as SCDC (“SCDC”) in a
lawsuit regarding Plaintiff's dental treatment. See
Yelsen Land Co. v. State, 723 S.E.2d 592, 596 (S.C.
2012) (citing Richburg v. Baughman, 351 S.E.2d 164
(1986) (“The term ‘privity' when applied to a
judgment or decree means one so identified in interest with
another that he represents the same legal rights.”). As
Plaintiff's proposed amendments are futile, his motion to
amend his Second Amended Complaint is denied.
reasons above, Plaintiff's Motions for Reconsideration
and to Amend the ...