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Sarrell v. Waupaca Foundry, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Chattanooga

July 25, 2017

MICHAEL SARRELL, et al., Plaintiffs,
WAUPACA FOUNDRY, INC., et al., Defendants.



         Before the Court is a motion filed by Plaintiff Michael Sarrell (“Plaintiff”) seeking leave to file a second amended complaint [Doc. 34]. Plaintiff brings this matter as a collective action under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) to recover allegedly unpaid overtime compensation for himself, individually, and on behalf of similarly situated former and current employees of the named Defendants. Plaintiff states that he seeks to file a second amended complaint to clarify certain facts. The only Defendant served with process at this time, Waupaca Foundry, Inc. (“Waupaca” or “Defendant”), has filed a response (and an identical revised response) in opposition to the motion to amend [Docs. 49 & 55]. Using an incorrect docket entry event [Doc. 68], Plaintiff filed an untimely reply [Docs. 67 & 69].[1] This matter is now ripe.

         I. STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a) provides that after a party has amended once as a matter of course, as here, he may only amend with the opposing party's consent or with leave of court, and the “court should freely give leave when justice so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). “A request under Rule 15(a) is subject to the requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 7(b), which states a motion ‘shall state with particularity the grounds for seeking the order.'” Travelers Cas. & Sur., Co. of Am. v. Pascarella, No. 1:10-CV-0157, 2011 WL 3468729, at *3 (E.D. Tenn. Aug. 8, 2011) (alterations and citations omitted). Rule 15 is designed to “reinforce the principle that cases ‘should be tried on their merits rather than the technicalities of pleadings.'” Inge v. Rock Fin. Corp., 388 F.3d 930, 934 (6th Cir. 2004) (noting, inter alia, the significance of the closure of discovery on the denial of leave to amend and the plaintiff's failure to discuss delay, prejudice, or futility) (internal citation and quotations omitted).

         “In deciding whether to grant a motion to amend, courts should consider undue delay in filing, lack of notice to the opposing party, bad faith by the moving party, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by previous amendments, undue prejudice to the opposing party, and futility of amendment.” Brumbalough v. Camelot Care Ctrs., 427 F.3d 996, 1001 (6th Cir. 2005) (citations omitted); accord Colvin v. Caruso, 605 F.3d 282, 294 (6th Cir. 2010). Although leave to amend is ordinarily freely given under Fed.R.Civ.P. 15, an amendment may be denied as futile if the claim sought to be added “could not withstand a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss.” See Rose v. Hartford Underwriters Ins. Co., 203 F.3d 417, 420 (6th Cir. 2000).[2] A court is prohibited from looking to facts outside the proposed amended pleading when determining whether the amendment is futile. See Id. at 420-421.

         II. ANALYSIS

         Defendant has filed a motion to dismiss the original complaint, and a renewed motion to dismiss the first amended complaint [Docs. 15 & 28]. Defendant opposes Plaintiff's motion to amend arguing that “doing so would be futile and the new proposed new pleading is littered with false ‘facts.'” [Doc. 55, at Page ID # 435]. Specifically, Defendant makes overlapping arguments (A) that Plaintiff failed to state with particularity the reasons why leave is appropriate under See Fed. R. Civ. P. 7(b); and (B) that justice does not require the Court to allow another amendment because: (1) Plaintiff's delay is “undue and inexcusable” due to (a) his failure and inability to cure defects, (b) his bad faith in asserting “disingenuous” allegations, (c) the alleged prejudice to Defendant, and (d) the interests of judicial economy; and (2) that the proposed amendment is futile and filed in bad faith because the proposed amendment is spurious [Doc. 55].

         A. Rule 7

         As noted above, Rule 7(b) requires a motion to state the grounds upon which it is made with particularity. See also E.D. Tenn. L.R. 7.1(b) (briefs must include “a concise statement of the factual and legal grounds which justify the ruling sought from the Court.”). Defendant cites to Evans v. Pearson Enterprises, Inc., 434 F.3d 839, 853 (6th Cir. 2006), a case where, in response to the defendants' motions to dismiss and for summary judgment, plaintiff “requested leave to amend in a single sentence without providing grounds or a proposed amended complaint to support her request.” In agreeing with several other circuits, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals held that a bare request in opposition to a motion to dismiss-without any indication of the particular grounds on which amendment is sought-does not constitute a motion within the contemplation of Rules 7(b) and 15(a). Id.

         Unlike in Evans, Plaintiff here has explained with particularity how he would amend his complaint in his proposed second amended complaint [Doc. 34-1], which was filed with the motion to amend as required by the Court's local rules. E.D. Tenn. L.R. 15.1 (“A party who moves to amend a pleading shall attach a copy of the proposed amended pleading to the motion.”). Plaintiff also indicates that his grounds for seeking leave are to “clarify certain facts after further investigation, including more specifics about Defendants' policies and/or practices that render the work performed off-the-clock by Plaintiffs and others similarly situated compensable in this putative [FLSA] lawsuit.” [Doc. 34, at Page ID # 322].

         The Court finds that Plaintiff has adequately complied with the requirements of Rule 7(b) and that Defendant's arguments to the contrary are unpersuasive.

         B. Justice, Undue Delay, and Prejudice

         Defendant alleges undue delay and prejudice because Plaintiff attempted to cure his original “defective” complaint once as a matter of right and failed to do so. Defendant argues that Plaintiff should not be allowed yet another opportunity to file an amended complaint, which Defendant contends will also fail as a matter of law.

         The Court finds it unnecessary to engage in an extensive discussion of Rule 15, the established law, or the clearly distinguishable cases concerning prejudicial delay offered by Defendant in support of its position. Suffice it to say “[d]elay alone, regardless of its length is not enough to bar [amendment] if the other party is not prejudiced.” Duggins v. Steak ‘N Shake, Inc., 195 F.3d 828, 834 (6th Cir. 1999) (quoting Moore v. City of Paducah, 790 F.2d 557, 562 (6th Cir. 1986)) (internal quotation marks omitted) (alternation in original). “At some point, however, delay will become undue, placing an unwarranted burden on the court, or will become prejudicial, placing an unfair burden on the opposing party.” Morse v. McWhorter, 290 F.3d 795, 800 (6th Cir. 2002) (quoting Adams v. Gould, 739 F.2d 858, 863 (3d Cir. 1984)) (internal quotation marks ...

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