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Malenda v. Gray

United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

January 16, 2020

GREG MALENDA, Plaintiff,
DAVID GRAY, et al., Defendants.

          Edmund A. Sargus Judge



         Plaintiff, who is proceeding pro se, brought this action on January 16, 2019, while incarcerated at Belmont Correctional Institution (“BCI”). (See Doc. 1). Broadly speaking, Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief against 17 BCI officials and employees for the alleged violation of his First, Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. (See generally Docs. 3, 12, 32). Plaintiff has since been released from custody, (see Doc. 30), and, because he seeks only injunctive relief against Defendants, (see Doc. 12), his case is now moot. Therefore, the Undersigned withdraws her pending Report and Recommendation (Doc. 38) and RECOMMENDS that Plaintiff's claims for injunctive relief be DISMISSED as moot and that this case be DISMISSED in its entirety.

         I. BACKGROUND

         As the following procedural history demonstrates, the Undersigned has permitted Plaintiff, on multiple occasions, to amend his pleadings.

         Plaintiff filed his Complaint on January 22, 2019, (the “Original Complaint”), asserting claims for various constitutional violations against Defendants Gray, Haley, Kolvek, Sattler, Haggerty, Terek, Murphy, Aubrey, Everhart, Weer, Hunyadi, Stanforth, Kuryn, and Litzenberger. (Doc. 3). In the Original Complaint, Plaintiff requested declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as $50, 000 in compensatory damages and $5, 000 in punitive damages against each Defendant. (Id. at 2; 7-8).

         Then, on February 13, 2019, Plaintiff moved to amend to add Defendants Taylor, Callarik, and Meager. (Doc. 4). The Undersigned granted Plaintiff's Motion and directed Plaintiff to file an amended complaint within 21 days. (Doc. 6). On March 15, 2019, Plaintiff requested an additional 30 days to file an amended complaint, which the Undersigned granted. (Docs. 10, 11). Plaintiff filed the Amended Complaint on March 22, 2019, substituting Defendant Scott for Defendant Weer. (Doc. 12). Notably, however, Plaintiff failed to request any form of relief in the Amended Complaint. (See id.). Rather, he attached the Original Complaint to the end of a 277- page exhibit accompanying the Amended Complaint. (Doc. 12-2 at 270).

         Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss on May 9, 2019, noting the fact that Plaintiff's Amended Complaint is silent regarding relief. (Doc. 22 at 1-2). Defendants' Motion seemingly alerted Plaintiff of this issue, because, on June 26, 2019, he filed a Motion to Amend Relief Requested. (Doc. 32). In his Motion, Plaintiff set forth 16 separate requests for relief, all of which are injunctive. (See id.). For example, Plaintiff requested that the Court require random drug testing and ongoing training for all BCI staff and contractors. (Id. at 1). Defendants moved to strike Plaintiff's Motion as improper under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Doc. 35).

         On October 31, 2019, the Undersigned issued a Report and Recommendation, recommending granting in part and denying in part Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. 38). Pertinent here, the Undersigned granted Plaintiff's Motion to Amend Relief Requested and denied Defendants' Motion to Strike. (Id. at 22). Therefore, in considering the merits of Plaintiff's claims, the Undersigned considered the Amended Complaint, (Doc. 12), and the relief requested in Plaintiff's Motion to Amend Relief Requested, (Doc. 32). (See generally Doc. 38).

         While that Report and Recommendation was pending, it came to the Court's attention that Plaintiff had been released from custody. (See Doc. 30). So the Undersigned issued an Order, noting that, because Plaintiff is seeking only injunctive relief against Defendants, his claims most likely became moot when he was released from custody. (Doc. 41). The Undersigned directed the parties to meet and confer and file a joint status report regarding which, if any of Plaintiff's claim are still active following Plaintiff's release from custody. (Id.).

         Defendants timely filed a status report, explaining that, “[a]lthough the Court Order indicated that a joint status report be filed, Plaintiff has failed to confer with the undersigned counsel in a timely manner after undersigned counsel attempted to get into contact with Plaintiff.” (Doc. 43 at 1). Defendants attached a copy of a December 20, 2019, letter and proposed status report that they sent to Plaintiff. (Doc. 43-1). In their letter, Defendants explained the Court's recent directive and asked Plaintiff to call or write them regarding any changes to the proposed status report by January 4, 2020. (Id. at 1). According to Defendants, Plaintiff did not call counsel for Defendants until January 10, 2019. (Doc. 43-1 at 1). Plaintiff explained that he is still seeking the monetary damages requested in his Original Complaint (Doc. 3). (Id.). But, as explained below, Plaintiff's Amended Complaint superseded the Original Complaint, and as such, Plaintiff's case involves claims for only injunctive relief.


         The Undersigned must answer two questions: First, which pleading serves as the operative pleading in this matter; and second, whether Plaintiff's claims for injunctive relief became moot when he was released from custody.

         A. ...

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