United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Eastern Division
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO STRIKE,
GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO AMEND, AND GRANTING
DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR EXTENSION
THOMAS ANDERSON, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Defendant CSX Transportation, Inc.'s Motion
to Strike (ECF No. 14) and Plaintiff James Parker's
Motion for Leave to Amend (ECF No. 15), both filed on June 6,
2017. Defendant has responded in opposition to
Plaintiff's Motion, and the parties' briefing is now
initiated this action on April 17, 2017, alleging claims for
injuries Plaintiff allegedly sustained as a result of being
struck by a train operated by Defendant. Plaintiff served
Defendant with the Complaint on April 24, 2017, and Defendant
filed a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss the initial Complaint
on May 15, 2017. Plaintiff responded to the Rule 12(b)(6)
motion by filing a First Amended Complaint (ECF No. 11) on
May 31, 2017. As a result of Plaintiff amending his
pleadings, the Court denied Defendant's motion to dismiss
5, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint (ECF No.
13). Defendant's Motion to Strike followed. Defendant
argues that Plaintiff has already amended his pleadings once
as a matter of right by filing his First Amended Complaint.
Rule 15 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires that
Plaintiff first seek leave of court or Defendant's
consent before filing yet another amended pleading. Plaintiff
failed to do so. Defendant explains by way of background that
counsel for Defendant wrote a Rule 11 letter to counsel for
Plaintiff upon the filing of the First Amended Complaint and
asserted that the First Amended Complaint contained
allegations which were inconsistent with the facts of the
case. Plaintiff responded by filing his Second Amended
Complaint. Therefore, the Court should strike Plaintiff's
Second Amended Complaint. Defendant further requests that the
Court stay Defendant's deadline for filing a responsive
pleading until the Court has ruled on the Motion to Strike.
has responded in opposition to the Motion to Strike and made
his own Motion for Leave to Amend. Plaintiff claims that
counsel filed the Second Amended Complaint out of an
abundance of caution to avoid any violation of Rule 11.
Plaintiff now seeks leave to file the Second Amended
Complaint and cites for support Rule 15's liberal
standard for amendments. Defendant has filed a separate
response in opposition to Plaintiff's Motion to Amend.
Defendant argues that Plaintiff failed to take appropriate
steps to cure the Rule 11 issues in the First Amended
Complaint. For example, Plaintiff could have filed a motion
to amend prior to filing the new pleading. Defendant asks the
Court to reject Plaintiff's request for retroactive leave
further contends that Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint
pleaded facts to avoid the issues raised in Defendant's
Rule 12(b)(6) motion and in doing so included some of the
misrepresentations identified by Defendant in its Rule 11
letter to Plaintiff. Plaintiff's removal of those
misrepresentations in another amended pleading will only
compel Defendant to file another Rule 12(b)(6) addressed to
the same defects. Defendant further argues that the Second
Amended Complaint is still subject to dismissal for the same
reasons stated in Defendant's previous motion to dismiss.
Therefore, the Court should hold that Plaintiff's
proposed amendment would be futile.
Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(2) provides that a party may
amend its pleadings only with the opposing party's
written consent or the court's leave and “that
leave to amend shall be freely given when justice so
requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a).
In the absence of any apparent or declared reason such as
undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on the part of the
movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments
previously allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing party by
virtue of allowance of the amendment, futility of the
amendment, etc. the leave sought should, as the rules
require, be âfreely given.â
Leary v. Daeschner, 349 F.3d 888, 905 (6th Cir.
2003) (quoting Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182
thrust of Rule 15 is to reinforce the principle that cases
should be tried on their merits rather than the
technicalities of pleadings.” Herhold v. Green Tree
Servicing, LLC, 608 F. App'x 328, 330-31 (6th Cir.
2015) (quoting Moore v. City of Paducah, 790 F.2d
557, 559 (6th Cir. 1986)). The Sixth Circuit has remarked
that “the case law in this Circuit manifests liberality
in allowing amendments to a complaint.” Newberry v.
Silverman, 789 F.3d 636, 645 (6th Cir. 2015) (citations
omitted). In the final analysis, Rule 15(a)(2) does
“not displace the reasoned discretion-the judgment-of
district courts to say enough is enough.” Graves v.
Mahoning Cnty., 821 F.3d 772, 777 (6th Cir.
Court will grant Plaintiff leave to amend his pleadings. As
an initial matter, the Court would stress that Plaintiff has
not followed the proper procedure for amending pleadings.
Rule 15(a)(2) allows a party to amend its pleadings but only
with leave of court or the consent of the opposing party.
Despite the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure's
“liberal amendment policy, ” Rule 15(a)(2) does
not grant a plaintiff “unbridled authority to amend the
complaint.” Springs v. U.S. Dept. of Treasury,
567 F. App'x 438, 443 (6th Cir. 2014). In this case
Plaintiff should have promptly filed a motion to correct his
pleadings as soon as Plaintiff became aware of the need to
amend them. Rather than taking this simple step, Plaintiff
filed his Second Amended Complaint without leave of the Court
and without obtaining the Defendant's consent.
Plaintiff's failure to follow the correct procedure has
resulted in Defendant's Motion to Strike and
Plaintiff's late-filed motion for leave to amend.
Plaintiff's failure to comply with the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure, the Court finds cause to allow the amended
filing to stand. At this early stage of the case, the Court
has not yet entered a scheduling order and not established a
deadline for amending the pleadings. Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(3)(A)
(requiring a court to include a deadline for amending the
pleadings in a Rule 16(b) case management order). The Court
also credits Plaintiff's explanation that he filed the
Second Amended Complaint to avoid any potential violation of
Rule 11. A plaintiff “is impressed with a continuing
responsibility to review and reevaluate his pleadings and
where appropriate modify them to conform to Rule 11.”
Shirvell v. Gordon, 602 F. App'x 601, 605 (6th
Cir. 2015) (quoting Runfola & Assocs., Inc. v.
Spectrum Reporting II, Inc., 88 ...