United States District Court, D. New Hampshire
A. DiClerico, Jr. United States District Judge
Stile, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, brought suit
against the Strafford County Sheriff and deputies in the
Sheriff's office, Strafford County, the Strafford County
Administrator, the Strafford County Department of Corrections
Superintendent and officers, and officers with the United
States Marshals Service in the District of Maine. His claims
arose from an incident that occurred in September of 2014,
while Stile was a pretrial detainee held at the Strafford
County Department of Corrections awaiting trial in a federal
criminal case in the District of Maine. On preliminary
review, the magistrate judge issued a report and
recommendation to dismiss Claims 3, 4, 5, and 8, and to allow
Claims 1, 2, 6, and 7.
filed an objection to the report and recommendation,
addressing the recommendation to dismiss Claim 8. The
defendants filed a response to the objection. Stile also
filed a motion to amend the complaint to allege a claim for
breach of contract based on a third-party beneficiary theory,
as allowed in the report and recommendation. The defendants
object to the motion to amend on the ground that the proposed
amendment would be futile.
Report and Recommendation
magistrate judge's report and recommendation is reviewed
by the district judge if an affected party objects.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3). However, only those parts of a report
and recommendation to which an objection is filed are subject
to review. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3);
Santos-Santos v. Torres-Centeno, 842 F.3d 163, 168
(1st Cir. 2016).
objection is construed to argue that he is an intended
third-party beneficiary of the agreement between the United
States Marshals Service in the District of Maine and
Strafford County through which federal detainees are housed
at the Strafford County Department of Corrections. He further
argues that the defendants breached the agreement by failing
to provide a safe means of transporting him from the jail to
a court hearing in Maine. Based on that theory, he contends
that Claim 8 should have been allowed.
explained in the report and recommendation, Stile alleged a
tort claim in Claim 8, not breach of an agreement to which he
was a third-party beneficiary. The magistrate judge explained
the third-party beneficiary theory, citing Zikianda v.
County of Albany, 2015 WL 5510956, at *36-*37 (W.D.N.Y.
Sept. 15, 2015), and Melvin v. County of
Westchester, 2016 WL 1254394, at *22 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 29,
2016). In addition, the magistrate recommended that dismissal
be without prejudice to amending the complaint. Stile has
moved to amend.
objection has been considered but does not provide grounds to
reject the recommendation to dismiss Claim 8. The report and
recommendation is accepted.
Motion to Amend
moves to amend his complaint to add a claim that the
defendants breached the agreement to which he was a
third-party beneficiary. The defendants object to the motion
on the ground that the proposed amendment is futile because
Stile did not allege sufficient facts to support the claim.
The court may deny leave to amend if the proposed amendment
fails to provide sufficient factual allegations, which when
taken as true fail to state a plausible claim for relief.
In re Curran, 855 F.3d 19, 28 (1st Cir. 2017).
proposed amended complaint, Stile alleges that the Marshals
Service contracted with Strafford County to house him at the
Strafford County House of Corrections and to provide
transportation for him to medical and court appointments. He
further alleges that the contract was signed by the Strafford
County Administrator and Officers Patnode, Knightly, and
Ossinger of the Marshal's Service. He states that the
contract “concern[ed] the custody and care of the
Plaintiff James Stile.” He alleges that the contract
was breached when he was taken out of the jail by officers
who were not trained or not properly trained, which resulted
in injuries to him, and was then transported in a cargo van
that lacked appropriate safety protections and minimum
comforts, that did not comply with the requirements of state
and federal law, that was operated by officers who were not
trained or not properly trained, and that caused him to be
injured during the ride.
defendants contend that the claim is futile because Stile did
not allege sufficient facts to show that he was an intended
third-party beneficiary of the contract. In support, the
defendants rely on the analysis of third-party beneficiary
status in Intergen N.V. v. Grina, 344 F.3d 134, 146
(1st Cir. 2003), in which the court found that third-party
beneficiary status did not exist to allow enforcement of an
arbitration agreement. That analysis involved parsing the
contractual relationships among families of corporate
entities involved in energy production and their agreements
to purchase and service certain equipment. The defendants did
not sufficiently analogize that case to the circumstances
here. Importantly, the defendants did not address the cases
cited by the magistrate judge, which involve third-party
beneficiary status in the context of governmental contracts
for detention services.
defendants also mention the principle that government
contracts generally do not support third-party beneficiary
status. In addition, they state that Stile would be limited
to contract damages, which the defendants argue do not exist.
Those theories are insufficiently developed to show that the
motion should be denied. As Stile points out, he does not yet
have a copy of the contract, which he hopes to obtain through
discovery, and the defendants did not provide a copy of the
contract in support of their objection.
stage, Stile is allowed to amend his complaint by adding the
proposed amended complaint as a supplement to the original
complaint, as construed in the report and recommendation.
Allowing the motion to amend, however, is without prejudice
to the defendants' ability to move to dismiss the claim.
The amended complaint adds Claim 9 which alleges that the
defendants breached the contract between the United States
Marshal's Service for the District of Maine and Strafford
County by failing to provide safe care and ...