United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
OSTEEN, JR., DISTRICT JUDGE.
Gregory Dwayne Jackson (“Jackson”) has moved to
dismiss, (Doc. 9), Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint
(“First Am. Compl.”), (Doc. 4), pursuant to
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), 12(b)(2), and
12(b)(6). Because Jackson moves to dismiss on jurisdictional
grounds, (see Doc. 9), he has filed an affidavit in
support of his motion, (Doc. 9-1). Defendant Ethan Caleb
Reynolds (“Reynolds”) and Defendant LaSalle
Correction Transport, LLC (“LaSalle”) have filed
answers to the First Amended Complaint. (Def. Reynolds (Doc.
3); Def. LaSalle (Doc. 5).)
has filed a response in opposition to Jackson's motion to
dismiss, (Doc. 15), contemporaneously filing a motion to
amend his First Amended Complaint to add more detailed
allegations and to set forth an additional claim for relief
under Bivens. (Doc. 13; see Doc. 15 at 2.)
Jackson has replied in support of his motion to dismiss.
(Doc. 16.) And both Jackson and LaSalle have responded in
opposition to Plaintiff's motion to amend. (Doc. 17.)
of objection to Plaintiff's motion to amend, Defendants
Jackson and LaSalle argue that the proposed Second Amended
Complaint (“Second Am. Compl.”), (Doc. 13-1),
fails to establish a plausible claim of street racing and
that Jackson is entitled to absolute immunity, derivative
sovereign immunity, public official immunity, and qualified
immunity, (e.g., Doc. 17 at 3, 9).
court finds that Plaintiff's motion to amend, (Doc. 13),
should be allowed. This court does not find the proposed
amendments futile or any undue prejudice. The court,
therefore, will deny Jackson's motion to dismiss, (Doc.
9), as moot.
PROCEDURAL HISTORY AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND
filed his original complaint in state court against Reynolds.
(See Doc. 2). He then filed the First Amended
Complaint in state court, adding Jackson and LaSalle as
defendants. (See First Am. Compl. (Doc. 4).) Jackson
removed the matter to this court based upon diversity of
citizenship under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). (Doc. 1 at 2.)
Defendant Reynolds and Defendant LaSalle filed answers to the
First Amended Complaint (Doc. 4). (Docs. 3, 5, respectively;
see supra at 2 n.1.)
moved to dismiss the First Amended Complaint to Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), 12(b)(2), and 12(b)(6), (Doc.
9), and filed a supporting affidavit, (Affidavit of Gregory
Dwayne Jackson (“Jackson Aff.”) (Doc. 9-1)).
Plaintiff responded, (Pl.'s Resp. to Mot. to Dismiss
(“Pl.'s Resp.”) (Doc. 15)), and filed a
supporting affidavit, in which he verified the allegations
contained in the proposed Second Amended Complaint,
(Affidavit of Nestor Daniel Avila-Miranda (“Miranda
Aff.”) (Doc. 15-1) at 1). Contemporaneously, Plaintiff
separately moved to amend the First Amended Complaint. (Doc.
alleges in the First Amended Complaint that he was injured in
an automobile accident on August 15, 2016, involving a
prisoner transport van that was owned by LaSalle, driven by
Jackson, and in which Plaintiff was a shackled passenger.
(E.g., First Am. Compl. (Doc. 4) ¶¶ 10, 19.)
Plaintiff alleges that he had been detained by the United
States' Citizenship and Immigration Services
(“USCIS”) and, at the time of the accident, was
in the process of being transported from North Carolina to
Stewart Detention Center in Georgia. (Id.
¶¶ 9-10.) Plaintiff contends that Jackson and the
driver of another automobile, Reynolds, became involved in a
speed competition. (Id. ¶ 14.) An accident
between the two automobiles resulted, and Plaintiff was
seriously injured. (Id. ¶¶ 17, 19.) In the
First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff asserts claims of
negligence, gross negligence, and punitive damages as to each
of Reynolds, (id. ¶¶ 29-39, 52-57), and Jackson.
(Id. ¶¶ 40-51, 58-63.) Plaintiff alleges
LaSalle is vicariously liable for the actions of Jackson.
(Id. ¶ 12.)
states that, “[a]t all times immediately before,
during, and after the attack and accident, [Jackson] was
acting under the authority, control, and supervision of [the
United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement
(“ICE”)] to transport, secure, and protect the
six ICE detainees being transported in the van.”
(Jackson Aff. (Doc. 9-1) ¶ 19.) Jackson argues that he
was “operating as an agent of ICE when the accident
occurred, and he is therefore entitled to immunity from
suit.” (Def. Jackson's Mem. of Law in Supp. of Mot.
to Dismiss (“Jackson's Br.”) (Doc. 10) at 6.)
proposed Second Amended Complaint contains additional
allegations further describing the encounter between Jackson
and Reynolds and the accident between the vehicles. (See,
e.g., Second Am. Compl. (Doc. 13-1) ¶¶ 20-28.) The
proposed Second Amended Complaint restates the causes of
action from the First Amended Complaint, though the Second
Amended Complaint does not allege punitive damages as
freestanding causes of action, and adds a cause of action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Id. ¶¶
84-94.) Jackson and LaSalle filed a response in opposition to
the motion to amend. (Defs.' Opp'n to Pl.'s Mot.
to File Second Amended Complaint (“Defs.'
Resp.” (Doc. 17).)
facts will be addressed as necessary in the analysis.
Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(1) allows a party to amend its
pleading once as a matter of course under certain
circumstances not applicable here. Otherwise, “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). “The court should freely give leave when
justice so requires[, ]” id., denying leave “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 have been futile.”
Laber v. Harvey, 438 F.3d 404, 426 (4th Cir. 2006)
(citation and internal quotation marks omitted). Defendants
argue that the motion to amend should be denied on grounds of
futility and prejudice. (Defs.' Resp. (Doc. 17) at 2.)
respect to futility, leave to amend “should only be
denied . . . when the proposed amendment is clearly
insufficient or frivolous on its face.” Johnson v.
Oroweat Foods Co., 785 F.2d 503, 510 (4th Cir. 1986)
(citations omitted). “An amendment would be futile if
the amended claim would fail to survive a motion to dismiss
for failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).” Syngenta Crop Prot.,
Inc. v. E.P.A., 222 F.R.D. 271, 278 (M.D. N.C. 2004)
(citation omitted). A Rule 12(b)(6) motion tests the legal
sufficiency of a complaint. See Neitzke v. Williams,
490 U.S. 319, 326-27 (1989).
argue that the proposed Second Amended Complaint is futile
because: (i) it fails to state a plausible claim against them
for a violation of N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-141.3, (ii) it
fails to state a plausible claim that Jackson was
deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's safety, and (iii)
Jackson is entitled to immunity. (See Defs.'
Resp. (Doc. 17) at 3-10.)
Speed Competition, N.C. Gen. ...