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Corona v. City of Clovis

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

March 5, 2019

CITY OF CLOVIS, et al., Defendants.


          Honorable Judith C Herrera United States District Court Judge

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for Permission to Amend First Amended Complaint (“Motion to Amend”), (Doc. 55-1), filed September 24, 2018 and Defendants' Response in Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion for Permission to Amend First Amended Complaint (“Response to Motion to Amend”), (Doc. 60), filed October 9, 2018. After considering the parties' filings, the record, and the relevant law, the Court FINDS that Plaintiff's Motion for Permission to Amend First Amended Complaint, (Doc. 55-1), is not well taken and should be DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.

         I. Factual Background

         On August 3, 2014, Defendant Brent Aguilar, a police officer with the City of Clovis Police Department, conducted a routine traffic stop in Curry county, New Mexico. (Doc. 1-2 at 224-25). Upon approaching the driver's side of the stopped vehicle, Officer Aguilar asked the driver to roll down the left passenger-side window. (Doc. 1-2 at 225). The driver of the vehicle, Keisha Lujan, complied with Officer Aguilar's request and continued searching for her driver's license, proof of insurance, and vehicle registration. Id. Plaintiff Jorge Corona was seated in the back-left passenger seat of Ms. Lujan's vehicle, and as Ms. Lujan searched for her documentation, he began asking Officer Aguilar why they had been pulled over. Id. Officer Aguilar stated that he was not speaking to Mr. Corona because he was not the driver of the vehicle. Id. Mr. Corona then continued asking Officer Aguilar why the vehicle had been stopped. Id.

         After repeated questioning from Mr. Corona, Officer Aguilar asked Mr. Corona if he had any identification (“ID”). (Doc. 1-2 at 225). In response, Mr. Corona stated he did not have ID and continued to ask Officer Aguilar why the vehicle had been pulled over. Id. Eventually, Officer Aguilar stated that if Mr. Corona did not produce ID, he would be placed under arrest for concealing identification. Id. After repeating that he did not have ID, Mr. Corona was ordered out of the vehicle and placed under arrest for concealing identification. Id. Officer Aguilar placed Mr. Corona in handcuffs and began walking him towards “the patrol units.” (Doc. 1-2 at 225-26).

         Mr. Corona alleges that while his hands were handcuffed behind has back, Officer Aguilar “slammed [him] facedown into the asphalt, ” “without warning, ” causing him serious bodily injury. (Doc. 1-2 at 226). After the attack, Mr. Corona alleges that Officer Aguilar “fabricated many aspects of his story, ” in his police report concerning the incident, including accusations that Mr. Corona “used abusive language towards him, tried to pull away from him on numerous occasions, and [] thrust his shoulder forward in a[n] [] aggressive manner.” Id. In addition, Mr. Corona alleges that a fellow City of Clovis police officer, Defendant Travis Loomis, arrived on the scene before the attack occurred and helped Officer Aguilar “continue the prosecution of an innocent person by fabricating his police report and testimony to support a senior officer.” (Doc. 1-2 at 228).

         As a result of this incident, Officer Aguilar charged Mr. Corona with resisting, evading, or obstructing an officer, in violation of N.M.S.A. § 30-22-1, and concealing identity, in violation of N.M.S.A. § 30-22-3. See (Doc. 54 at 28-29). At trial, Mr. Corona was acquitted of all charges against him. (Doc. 54 at 14); see also (Doc. 54 at 41-42).

         On August 1, 2016, Mr. Corona filed a complaint in the Ninth Judicial District of New Mexico alleging “assault, battery, wrongful arrest, prima facie tort, intentional infliction of emotional distress, pain and suffering, negligence, damages, misuse of process and malicious abuse of process, ” against the City of Clovis, the Clovis Police Department, and Officers Brent Aguilar and Travis Loomis “in their personal and official capacities.” (Doc. 1-2 at 1). After a year of litigation in state court, Defendants removed the case to this Court on August 8, 2017. See (Doc. 1).

         II. Order of Consideration of Motions

         As a preliminary matter, the Court notes that three motions are currently pending on the docket: Defendants' First Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (“Motion for Summary Judgment”), (Doc. 41), filed August 3, 2018; Defendants' Motion for Partial Judgment on the Pleadings (“Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings”), (Doc. 43), filed August 3, 2018; and the Motion considered in this Order, Plaintiff's Motion to Amend his Complaint, (Doc. 55-1).

         After Defendants filed both their Motion for Summary Judgment and their Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Amend, seeking to remedy a number of deficiencies in his Complaint that were illustrated by Defendants' Motions. Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint, if permitted to be filed by the Court, would “supersede” his First Amended Complaint, rendering Defendants' Motions moot. See Gilles v. U.S., 906 F.2d 1386, 1389 (10th Cir. 1990) (“[A] pleading that has been amended under Rule 15(a) supersedes the pleading it modifies and remains in effect throughout the action unless it subsequently is modified.”) (quoting 6 Fed. Prac. & Proc. Civ. § 1476 (3d ed.)); Tierra Blanca High Country Youth Prog. v. Gonzales, No. 15-850, 2017 WL 3420755, at *2 (D.N.M. March 20, 2017) (unpublished) (“[I]f the Second Amended Complaint rectifies any [] deficiencies [in the First Amended Complaint], the Motion to Dismiss is moot.”); Gotfredson v. Larsen LP, 432 F.Supp.2d 1163, 1172 (D.Colo. 2006) (finding that the defendants' motions to dismiss were “technically moot” because they were directed at the plaintiff's first amended complaint which was “no longer operative” after he filed his motion to amend). As such, the Court will first address Plaintiff's Motion to Amend before ruling on Defendants' Motions.

         I. Plaintiff's Motion to Amend

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (“Federal Rule”) 15(b) permits a party to amend his complaint with the opposing party's consent or with the court's permission. Consistent with Federal Rule 15, the court may refuse to grant a party leave to amend if there is a showing of “undue delay, undue prejudice to the opposing party, bad faith or dilatory motive, failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, or futility of amendment.” See Warnick v. Cooley, 895 F.3d 746, 755 (10th Cir. 2018). The court's discretion to deny leave must also be exercised in conjunction with Federal Rule 15(b)'s mandate to “freely give leave when justice so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(b).

         In addition, when a movant seeks leave to amend after the court's scheduling order deadline has passed, Federal Rule 15(b) works in tandem with Federal Rule 16(b), requiring an additional showing of “good cause” to modify the court's scheduling order. Chaara v. Intel Corp., No. 06-278, 2006 WL 4079030, at *4 (D.N.M. May 31, 2006) (unpublished) (aff'd245 Fed.Appx. 784 (10th Cir. 2007) (unpublished)). To satisfy the requirements under Federal Rule 16(b), the movant must prove that he put forth ...

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