United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
TIMOTHY L. BROOKS, District Judge.
Currently before the Court are Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 17) and supporting documents (Docs. 18, 19); Plaintiffs' Response (Doc. 21) and Statement of Facts (Doc. 22); and Defendants' Reply (Doc. 25). Also before the Court are Plaintiffs' Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint (Doc. 23), and Defendants' Response (Doc. 26); Plaintiffs' Motion for Leave to File Amended Statement of Facts (Doc. 27), and Defendants' Response (Doc. 28); Plaintiffs' Motion in Limine (Doc. 34), and Defendants' Response (Doc. 35); Defendants' Motion in Limine (Doc. 32), and Plaintiffs' Response (Doc. 37); Defendants' Motion for Twelve Person Jury (Doc. 38) and Brief in Support (Doc. 39), and Plaintiffs' Response (Doc. 41); and Defendants' Motion to Take Deposition from Delores Franklin (Doc. 40) and Plaintiffs' Response (Doc. 42).
The Court held a hearing on these motions on December 2, 2014, and after hearing oral argument made the following rulings from the bench: Plaintiffs' Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint and Plaintiffs' Motion for Leave to File Amended Statement of Facts were DENIED; Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment was GRANTED; and Plaintiffs' and Defendants' Motions in Limine, Defendants' Motion for Twelve Person Jury, and Defendants' Motion to Take Deposition from Delores Franklin were all DENIED as MOOT. This Opinion and Order explains the basis for the Court's decision. To the extent anything in this Order differs from what the Court stated from the bench, this Order will control.
I. PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE AMENDED COMPLAINT
The Second Amended Case Management Order (Doc. 16) instructs the parties that "[l]eave to amend pleadings and/or to add or substitute parties shall be sought no later than AUGUST 29, 2014." Id. at § 3 (emphasis in original). It states furthermore that "[t]he deadlines set forth above are firm. Extensions and/or continuances will not be considered absent very compelling circumstances." Id. at § 14. Nevertheless, on October 8, 2014, Plaintiffs moved for leave to file an amended complaint in order to clarify the basis for their argument that Defendant Acadia Healthcare Company should be held liable. (Doc. 23, ¶ 3). Plaintiffs argue that this would be necessary in the event that "Defendants later complain that the Complaint did not adequately plead the basis for holding Acadia liable, " and that "[i]t would be unjust to dismiss Acadia on the basis of a technicality in pleading when it may be cured without prejudice to any party." Id.
Plaintiffs' concerns might constitute "very compelling circumstances" if, for example, Defendants had moved for judgment on the pleadings under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). However, since Defendants have moved for summary judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56, the Court's review of the facts at this stage is based primarily on the evidence in the record and on the parties' statements of facts rather than on the pleadings. Given this procedural posture, an extension of the deadline to amend pleadings is not warranted. Therefore, Plaintiffs' Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint is DENIED.
II. PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE AMENDED STATEMENT OF FACTS
At summary judgment proceedings, the Local Rules merely require the nonmoving party to controvert a fact set forth in the moving party's statement of facts in order to avoid having that fact deemed admitted. Local Rule 56.1(c) ("All material facts set forth in the statement filed by the moving party... shall be deemed admitted unless controverted by the statement filed by the non-moving party...."). In their original Statement of Facts, Plaintiffs controverted the facts set forth in paragraphs 2-5, 9, 11-12, 14-15, 17-26, 28-29, 32-33, 36-42, 44-50, 53, 57, 59-60, 62-64, 66, 68, 70-71, 73-74, 76-78, 80, and 83 of Defendants' Statement of Facts. See Doc. 22, ¶ 1 ("Plaintiffs dispute... all or a part of the allegations contained in the following paragraphs of Defendants' Statement of Material Facts..."); see also BLACK'S LAW DICTIONARY 379 (9th ed. 2009) (defining "controvert" as "[t]o dispute or contest; esp., to deny (as an allegation in a pleading) or oppose in argument").
Plaintiffs filed their Motion for Leave to File Amended Statement of Facts "to avoid the injustice that would occur if Defendants' Statement of Facts were deemed admitted, " as Plaintiffs' Statement of Facts did not cite to specific evidence in the record or discuss the basis for disputing particular paragraphs in Defendants' Statement of Facts. (Doc. 27, ¶ 12). Although the Court certainly finds it helpful when non-moving parties' statements of facts explain in detail why certain facts are controverted, the Local Rules do not require any such elaboration. In light of this holding, no cause exists for Plaintiffs to be granted leave to amend their Statement of Facts. Therefore, Plaintiffs' Motion for Leave to File Amended Statement of Facts is DENIED. However, Plaintiffs did not dispute, and clearly did not intend to dispute, the facts set forth in paragraphs 1, 6-8, 10, 13, 16, 27, 30, 31, 34, 35, 43, 51, 52, 54-56, 58, 61, 65, 67, 69, 72, 75, 79, and 81-82 of Defendants' Statement of Facts. Accordingly, the facts articulated in those paragraphs are deemed admitted under Local Rule 56.1(c).
III. DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Plaintiffs Glenn Hawkins and Robbie Blackmon worked for several years at Vantage Point, an in-patient psychiatric hospital in Fayetteville, Arkansas, until their resignation on September 4, 2013. Vantage Point provides services to patients in different units, including Children, Adults, Geriatric (also called "Geri Psych"), Adolescent Acute (also called "North Unit"), and Adolescent Sub-Acute (also called "South Unit"). Each unit is staffed with nurses and psychiatric technicians (also called "psych techs"). Vantage Point operates 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
Hawkins and Blackmon are both African-American males who were employed as psych techs at Vantage Point. Hawkins and Blackmon usually worked in the Adolescent Sub-Acute unit, but they occasionally also worked in other units. The major function of psych techs at Vantage Point is to ensure that the patients, who suffer from various mental and behavioral problems, do not harm themselves or others.
On January 15, 2012, while Hawkins and Blackmon were transporting a patient from one unit to another unit the patient became violent. Hawkins and Blackmon attempted to restrain the patient, who fell and hit his head at some point during the struggle. While the struggle between the Plaintiffs and the patient was ongoing, day shift supervising nurse Elisa Bowlet came around the corner of the hall and saw the latter part of these events. Night shift supervising nurse Lawanna Ireland also came upon these events around the same time as Bowlet and also witnessed the end of what transpired. On January 20, 2012, Hawkins was suspended for a week without pay as a result of these events. The disciplinary form pertaining to Hawkins's ...