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Wright v. Corrections Corporation

United States District Court, District of Columbia

January 21, 2016

MARTHA WRIGHT, et al. Plaintiffs,
v.
CORRECTIONS CORPORATION OF AMERICA, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

GLADYS KESSLER, District Judge.

On May 15, 2015, Plaintiffs filed a Motion for Leave to File a First Amended Class Action Complaint ("Motion") [Dkt. No. 178]. They seek to reduce their original 12 counts to three while greatly expanding the scope of the proposed class, as well as to update the Complaint to reflect changes to the Parties' situations over the last fifteen years. Defendants Securus Technologies, Inc. ("Securus") and Corrections Corporation of America ("CCA") have filed responses in opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion [Dkt. Nos. 180, 181], and Plaintiffs have filed a Reply [Dkt. No. 184]. Upon full consideration of all the pleadings and the entire record herein, the Motion shall be granted for the following reasons.

I. BACKGROUND

On February 16, 2000, Plaintiffs filed this putative class action on behalf of inmates incarcerated at prison facilities owned and operated by Corrections Corporation of America, as well as on behalf of family members and friends of the inmates.

In August 2001, the Court ruled that the Federal Communication Commission ("FCC") was "in the best position to resolve the core issues in this case, namely the reasonableness of the rates charged and the feasibility of alternative telephone arrangements in CCA facilities." Memorandum Opinion at 10-11 [Dkt. No. 94]. On November 5, 2001, the Court entered an Order staying the case [Dkt. No. 105].

Since then, Plaintiffs have filed two petitions for rulemaking with the FCC. On September 26, 2013, the FCC issued its Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking ("Inmate Rate Order"). Rates for Interstate Inmate Calling Services, 78 Fed. Reg. 67956 (Nov. 13, 2013) (to be codified at 47 C.F.R. pt. 64).

On November 14, 2013, Securus, a Defendant in this lawsuit under its former name Evercom, and others filed Petitions for Review of the FCC's Inmate Rate Order with the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Securus Tech., Inc. v. FCC, 13-1280 (D.C. Cir. filed Nov. 14, 2013). In response to the FCC's uncontested motion to hold the case in abeyance pending the agency's adoption of permanent inmate calling reforms, the Court of Appeals stayed the appeal on December 16, 2014. See Securus, 13-1280 [Dkt. Nos. 1526582, 1527663]; see also Rates for Interstate Inmate Calling Services, Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 29 FCC Red 13170, 2014 WL 5408460.

On October 27, 2013, Plaintiffs filed a Motion to Reopen and Lift Stay Temporarily [Dkt. No. 139]. On February 13, 2015, while the Motion to Reopen was pending, Plaintiffs also filed a Motion to Transfer the case to the Western District of Arkansas [Dkt. No. 163], which Defendants opposed [Dkt. Nos. 165, 166, 167]. The Court granted Plaintiffs' Motion to Reopen on April 30, 2015 [Dkt. No. 177]. On May 15, 2015, Plaintiffs filed the present Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint. See Motion at 1; First Amended Class Action Complaint ("First Amended Class Action Complaint;' or "Am. Compl.") [Dkt. No. 178-2]. On May 18, 2015, the Court denied Plaintiffs' Motion to Transfer [Dkt. No. 179].

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

A. Leave to Amend

The amendment of pleadings in civil matters is governed by Rule 15 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which states that the "court should freely give leave [to amend] when justice so requires." Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a) (2). The decision to grant or deny leave to amend rests in the sound discretion of the trial court; however, it is an abuse of discretion to deny leave without a sufficient justification for doing so. Firestone v. Firestone, 76 F.3d 1205, 1208 (D.C. Cir. 1996) (citing Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962)). Sufficient justifications include "undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive repeated failure to cure deficiencies by [previous] amendments [or] futility of amendment." Id . (quoting Foman, 371 U.S. at 182).

In assessing a motion for leave to amend, the Court is required to assume the truth of the allegations in the amended complaint and construe them in the light most favorable to the movant. Caribbean Broadcasting Sys., 148 F.3d 1080, 1086 (D.C. Cir. 1998). The party opposing the amendment bears the' burden to show why leave should not be granted. Dove v. Washington Metro. Area Trans. Auth., 221 F.R.D. 246, 247 (D.D.C. 2004) (citing Gudavich v. Dist. of Columbia, 22 F.Appx. 17, 18 (D. C. Cir. 2001)).

Defendants oppose Plaintiffs' Motion and contend that it should be denied because (1) the proposed amendments are improper and beyond the scope of the initial Complaint, (2) Plaintiffs unduly delayed in seeking to amend their Complaint, (3) the proposed amendments are unduly prejudicial to Defendants, (4) the proposed amendments are brought in bad faith, and (5) the proposed amendments are futile. The Court will address each argument in turn.

Plaintiffs' original Complaint focused on obtaining damages for those who initiated telephone calls to people in correctional institutions operated by CCA, and all prisoners incarcerated in correctional institutions operated by CCA [Dkt. 1, ¶ 34]. It reads as follows:

Class (1): Families, Friends, Lawyers and Other Bill Payer Plaintiffs, defined as all persons, corporations and organizations billed for telephone calls initiated by people who presently are, have been or will be confined to a correctional facility operated by CCA.

as well as

Class (2): Prisoner Plaintiffs, defined as all persons who presently are, have been, or will be incarcerated in correctional institutions operated by CCA.

Plaintiffs' First Amended Class Action Complaint contained the allegations set forth above and ¶ 50, which included all persons using Securus telephone systems at non-CCA ...


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