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Adams v. Quattlebaum

January 2, 2004

ATHENA ADAMS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DAWN M. QUATTLEBAUM, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ricardo M. Urbina United States District Judge

Document Nos.: 2, 4

MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING THE PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO AMEND THE COMPLAINT AND DENYING THE DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS WITHOUT PREJUDICE

I. INTRODUCTION

The pro se plaintiff brings this civil-rights action against the defendant, who is the administrator of the retirement community in which the plaintiff resides. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, to which the plaintiff responded with a motion to amend the complaint. Because the plaintiff may amend her complaint once as a matter of course before the defendant files a responsive pleading, and given that the defendant's motion to dismiss does not qualify as a responsive pleading, the court grants the plaintiff's motion. Consequently, the court denies the defendant's motion without prejudice now that the amended complaint supersedes the original complaint.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Factual Background

The defendant is the administrator of Friendship Terrace retirement community, where the plaintiff, a Caucasian woman, has resided with federal assistance since April 1999. Compl. at 1. The plaintiff claims that the defendant is seeking to wrongfully remove her from her residence and accuses the defendant of aggressively discriminating against her based on race and economic status. Id. Attach. 1.

Initially, the defendant apparently attempted to terminate the plaintiff's lease in breach of their contract by returning the plaintiff's rental check for the month of September 2003. Id. Ex. A. at 1. In the ensuing months, the defendant allegedly embarrassed and intimidated the plaintiff. Id. Attach. 1. Specifically, the plaintiff claims that the defendant reported to law enforcement that the plaintiff had a history of mental illness and a gun with which she was threatening the retirement community's staff and residents. Id. The responding police officers arrested the plaintiff, resulting in her hospitalization at a local mental-health institution. Id. While hospitalized, she allegedly exhibited no signs of mental illness. Id.

Against this background, the plaintiff accuses the defendant of violating her civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Id. As a remedy, the plaintiff asks the court to issue a restraining order against the defendant and the defendant's agents to prevent "other adverse actions... which violate [her] civil rights and interfere with [her] being able to live in peace and quiet[.]" Id.

B. Procedural Background

On September 12, 2003, the plaintiff filed her complaint in the Superior Court. On September 22, 2003, the defendant filed a notice of removal, bringing the matter before this court. Subsequently, on September 29, 2003, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). In response, on October 10, 2003, the plaintiff filed a motion to amend the complaint. The court now addresses the parties' motions.

III. ANALYSIS

A. Legal Standard for a Motion to Amend

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a), a party may amend its pleading once as a matter of course at any time before a responsive pleading is served. FED. R. CIV. P. 15(a). Additionally, Rule 15(a) allows a party to amend its pleading to add a new party.*fn1 Id.; Wiggins v. Dist. Cablevision, Inc., 853 F. Supp. 484, 499 (D.D.C. 1994) (Lamberth, J.); 6 FED. PRAC. & PROC. 2d § 1474. According to our court of appeals, Rule 15(a) "guarantee[s] a plaintiff an absolute right" to amend the complaint once at any time so long as the defendant has not served a responsive pleading and the court has not decided a motion to dismiss. James V. Hurson Assocs., Inc. v. Glickman, 229 F.3d 277, 282-83 (D.C. Cir. 2000) (citing FED. R. CIV. P. 15(a)). If there is more than one defendant, and not all have served responsive pleadings, the plaintiff may amend the complaint as a matter of course with regard to those defendants that have yet to answer. 6 FED. PRAC. & PROC. 2d ยง 1481. Motions to dismiss ...


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