Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Craft v. City of Hobbs Police Department

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

November 3, 2017



         This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint [Doc. 9], Defendants' Motion to Strike Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint [Doc. 23], and Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File Second Amended Complaint and Third Amended Complaint [Doc. 24]. For the reasons stated below, Defendants' motion to strike will be granted, Plaintiff's motion for leave to file an amended complaint will be granted in part, and Defendants' motion to dismiss will be denied as moot without prejudice to their right to file a new motion to dismiss in response to Plaintiff's latest complaint.


         In his proposed amended complaint [Doc. 24-1], Plaintiff Al-Rashaad R. Craft (“Craft”) alleges that on April 18, 2015, he was standing in the public square in Hobbs, New Mexico, preaching a religious sermon. Craft contends that while he was preaching, a white woman approached him and began yelling at him and waving a lighter near his face and in front of the camera that Craft had set up to record his sermon. According to the complaint, Craft ignored the woman until he started to read from his Bible, at which point she struck Craft in the face with his Bible. Then, Craft pushed the woman away, and she lost her balance and fell. She got up and continued to shout obscenities at Craft. Members of the Hobbs Police Department arrived, took statements from the parties, and left after finding no probable cause for an arrest. However, one week later, officers arrested Craft and charged him with aggravated battery and disorderly conduct. Craft spent 17 days in the Lea County Detention Center and later lost his job as a result. The Lea County District Attorney's Office dismissed the charges based on lack of evidence.

         On April 17, 2018, Plaintiff filed his original complaint [Doc. 1] in this Court. Unfortunately, Plaintiff titled this document “First Amended Complaint, ” an error in nomenclature that has had a domino effect through subsequent pleadings in this case. On June 29, 2017, Plaintiff served the Defendants with this pleading. The Defendants did not answer, but on August 1, 2017, the Defendants moved to dismiss [Doc. 9] the original complaint [Doc. 1]. After receiving an extension of time in which to respond to the motion to dismiss, on September 12, 2017, Plaintiff instead filed an amended complaint [Doc. 21], which he confusingly labeled “Second Amended Complaint.” He did so without leave of Court. Three days later, on September 15, 2017, Plaintiff filed his response [Doc. 22] to the motion to dismiss.

         On September 20, 2017, Defendants filed their motion to strike [Doc. 23]. In it, they argue that Plaintiff improperly filed his so-called “Second Amended Complaint” [Doc. 21] without leave of court more than 21 days after Defendants had filed their motion to dismiss. On the same day, Plaintiff filed his motion [Doc. 24] for retroactive leave to file the “Second Amended Complaint” [Doc. 21], as well as leave to file a new “Third Amended Complaint, ” which he attached as an exhibit to his motion. See Docs. 24 and 24-1. The purpose of the proposed amendment appears to be to add certain allegations, as well as to add Ahmad White and Chad Wright as defendants. In their response to the motion for leave to amend, Defendants argue that the amendment would be futile.


         Amendment of Pleadings

         “[T]he grant of leave to amend the pleadings pursuant to Rule 15(a) is within the discretion of the trial court, ” Zenith Radio Corp. v. Hazeltine Research, Inc., 401 U.S. 321, 330 (1971), and the Tenth Circuit will not reverse the court's decision “absent an abuse of discretion.” Wessel v. City of Albuquerque, 299 F.3d 1186, 1197 (10th Cir. 2002) (internal quotation marks omitted). Under Rule 15, courts “should freely give leave [to amend] when justice so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). “The liberal granting of motions for leave to amend reflects the basic policy that pleadings should enable a claim to be heard on its merits.” Calderon v. Kan. Dept. of Soc. & Rehab. Servs., 181 F.3d 1180, 1186 (10th Cir. 1999). The purpose of the Rule is to provide litigants “the maximum opportunity for each claim to be decided on its merits rather than on procedural niceties.” Hardin v. Manitowoc-Forsythe Corp., 691 F.2d 449, 456 (10th Cir. 1982). Denial of leave is generally justified only for “undue delay, undue prejudice to the opposing party, bad faith or dilatory motive, failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previous allowed, or futility of amendment.” Frank v. U.S. West, Inc., 3 F.3d 1357, 1365 (10th Cir. 1993).

         Dismissal for Failure to State a Claim

         In its review of the complaint (whether the operative complaint or the proposed amended complaint), the Court must accept as true all well-pleaded factual allegations and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. SEC v. Shields, 744 F.3d 633, 640 (10th Cir. 2014). “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotation marks omitted). A claim is plausible when the plaintiff “pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. A pleading that offers only “labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action” does not meet this standard. Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). See Tellabs, Inc. v. Makor Issues & Rights, Ltd., 551 U.S. 308, 322 (2007) (“[O]nly if a reasonable person could not draw . . . an inference [of plausibility] from the alleged facts would the defendant prevail on a motion to dismiss.”).


         I. Motion to Strike

         Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a), an amended complaint may be filed without first obtaining Court authorization only under certain circumstances. The Rule provides in pertinent part that leave of Court is not required if the amended pleading is filed within 21 days after service of the pleading to be amended, see Fed. R. Civ. P. (a)(1)(A), or 21 days after either the filing of a responsive pleadings or service of a motion under Fed. R .Civ. P. 12(b)(6), “whichever is earlier.” See Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(1)(B). The Rule provides that, in “all other cases, a party may amend its pleading only with the opposing party's written consent or the court's leave.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2).

         In this case, Plaintiff's “Second Amended Complaint” [Doc. 21] was not filed until September 12, 2017, far more than 21 days after both service of the original complaint and service of the Defendants' motion to dismiss. Plaintiff failed to meet the deadline for filing an amended complaint without first obtaining leave of court to do so. Accordingly, to the extent the “Second Amended Complaint” [Doc. 21] seeks to amend the original ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.