United States District Court, D. South Carolina
V. Hodges United States Magistrate Judge
Souffrant (âPlaintiffâ) brought this action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. Â§ 1983, alleging violations of his constitutional
rights. This matter comes before the court on Plaintiff's
motion for leave to amend. [ECF No. 128]. This motion having
been fully briefed, it is ripe for disposition. [ECF Nos.
Factual and Procedural History
proceeding pro se, filed this lawsuit on February 9, 2018.
[ECF No. 1]. In his original Complaint, Plaintiff alleged
that on July 12, 2016, he was stopped by deputies of the
Clarendon County Sheriff's office, including deputy C.J.
Iseman and “two other sheriff's deputies of the
Clarendon County Sheriff's Office.” Id. at
3. Plaintiff alleged that the officers asked to search his
vehicle and he refused. Thereafter, Plaintiff was told to
exit the vehicle, and “[w]ithout any warning or
instructions from Iseman or other deputies, one deputy
withdrew his revolver pointing it at me and deputy Iseman and
the other deputy both grabbed me and lifting me off the
ground and raising me several feet in the air and then
slammed me on the ground.” Id. In the section
of the Complaint identifying the parties, Plaintiff
identified Deputy Iseman and also identified “Deputy
Sheriff #2, name currently unknown” and “Deputy
Sheriff #3, name currently unknown.” Id. at 2.
filed an amended complaint on May 24, 2018, in which he
specified the nature of his claims-claims under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 for violation of his constitutional rights,
specifically for an illegal traffic stop and search and for
excessive force. [ECF No. 39]. The case proceeded through
discovery. During discovery, Plaintiff, still acting pro se,
made multiple unsuccessful attempts to obtain the video
footage of the police stop. First, on April 16, 2018, he
filed a motion for discovery, “requesting the
surveillance from the Clarendon County Sheriff['s]
Office” from “July 12, 2016.” [ECF No. 25].
On June 11, 2018, Plaintiff filed a “motion to receive
full discovery from Clarendon County Sheriff Office” in
which he specifically requested the “audio and video
from the night of July 12, 2016.” [ECF No. 45].
Plaintiff argued that he needed his video for evidence and
“because it shows the excessive force used by
Defendants.” Id. On July 26, 2018, Plaintiff
filed his “Second Motion for Production of
Documents” in which he asked the Sheriff's Office
to release the video footage of the traffic stop to the
court. [ECF No. 63]. Plaintiff was not provided with the video
or the opportunity to view it while he remained
court granted summary judgment on Plaintiff's search and
seizure claim, but denied summary judgment on Plaintiff's
excessive force claim. [ECF No. 111]. On September 16, 2019,
the court appointed counsel to represent Plaintiff. [ECF No.
121]. Thereafter, Plaintiff obtained a copy of the video
footage he had been seeking since the beginning of this case.
According to Plaintiff's motion to amend, after reviewing
the video and asking defendant's counsel to confirm the
identities of the individuals in the video, it became clear
to Plaintiff that Officers Grice and Braxton were the two
officers who threw him to the ground. [ECF No. 128].
Plaintiff seeks leave to amend the complaint to add Officers
Ernie Grice and Brandon Braxton as defendants to this action.
Standard on a Motion to Amend
a motion to amend a pleading is governed by Fed.R.Civ.P.
15(a). Rule 15(a)(2) provides that “a party may amend
its pleading only with the opposing party's written
consent or the court's leave. The court should freely
give leave when justice so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
15(a)(2). Under Rule 15, a court should deny a motion to
amend “only where it would be prejudicial, there has
been bad faith, or the amendment would be futile.”
Nourison Rug Corp. v. Parvizian, 535 F.3d 295, 298
(4th Cir. 2008) (citing HCMF Corp. v. Allen, 238
F.3d 273, 276-77 (4th Cir. 2001)). “This liberal rule
gives effect to the federal policy in favor of resolving
cases on their merits instead of disposing of them on
technicalities.” Laber v. Harvey, 438 F.3d
404, 426 (4th Cir. 2006) (en banc).
Rule 15 directs courts to allow amendment of pleadings freely
“when justice so requires, ” after the deadline
for amending pleadings set forth in a scheduling order has
passed, a party must first demonstrate good cause under Rule
16, Fed. R. Civ. P., for the court to allow the amendment.
Nourison Rug Corp. v. Parvizian, 535 F.3d 295, 298
(4th Cir. 2008). “[G]ood cause means that scheduling
deadlines cannot be met despite a party's diligent
efforts.” Dilmar Oil Inc. v. Federated Mut. Ins.
Co., 986 F.Supp. 959, 980 (D.S.C. 1997) (citation
argues Plaintiff has not shown good cause to amend because
the delays in identifying the deputies at the scene of the
arrest were due to Plaintiff's lack of diligence and
carelessness. [ECF No. 130 at 3]. Defendant notes that
Plaintiff's motions for discovery were denied because the
court had advised Plaintiff discovery requests should be
served on the party and not filed with the court. Defendant
argues Plaintiff's attempts to seek the video were not
directed to him. [ECF No. 130]. However, the court ruled as
follows on one of Plaintiff's motions for discovery
related to the video:
Plaintiff filed three separate motions requesting various
forms of discovery. [ECF Nos. 45, 52, 53]. Plaintiff has
previously been advised that discovery requests need not be
filed with the court, but should be served on Defendants.
[ECF No. 26]. Therefore, Plaintiff's motions are denied,
as they prematurely seek to compel discovery responses from
Defendants before the requests were served on Defendants.
However, in this limited instance only, the court
construes discovery requests as served on Defendants through
CM/ECF on July 24, 2018, and they are directed to respond
within the time limits prescribed by the Federal Rules of
[ECF No. 61 (emphasis added)]. Although it is unclear to the
court why Defendant apparently failed to comply with the
court's order, the undersigned cannot conclude Plaintiff
displayed a lack of diligence in his attempts to obtain the
undersigned grants Plaintiff's motion to amend and
directs the Clerk of Court to docket the proposed Second
Amended Complaint at ECF No. 128 as a new docket entry.
Counsel for Defendant should advise the court by January 27,
2020, whether he is authorized to accept service on behalf of
the new defendants. If counsel is not authorized to accept
service and the court needs to direct discovery regarding the
home addresses of the new defendants for service purposes (to
be provided to counsel only), it will do so. ...