United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
DAVID PROCTOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
case is before the court on Plaintiffs' Motion for Leave
to File Third Amended and Restated Complaint. (Doc. # 133).
The Motion has been fully briefed (see Docs. # 133,
136-39), and it is ripe for decision. After careful review,
and for the reasons explained below, the court concludes that
Plaintiffs' Motion is due to be granted in part and
denied in part.
Standard of Review
parties dispute the appropriate standard of review to apply
to Plaintiffs' requests to amend the complaint. On the
one hand, Plaintiffs argue that the court should analyze the
proposed amendments under Rule 15. (Doc. # 133 at 4-6). Under
Rule 15(a)(2), “a party may amend its pleading only
with the opposing party's written consent or the
court's leave. The court should freely give leave when
justice so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2).
other hand, Defendants argue that all of the proposed
amendments should be analyzed under the good cause standard
provided in Rule 16. A plaintiff is required to show good
cause to amend a complaint if he or she files the motion to
amend after the deadline provided in a scheduling order
entered under Rule 16. Mann v. Taser Int'l,
Inc., 588 F.3d 1291, 1312 (11th Cir. 2009). In this
case, the court's initial Scheduling Order established a
deadline of February 1, 2016 for Plaintiffs to amend the
pleadings. (Doc. # 19 at 2). The court did not set an
extended deadline for amended pleadings in its Amended
Scheduling Order. (See generally Doc. # 54).
Therefore, Plaintiffs have filed the present Motion for Leave
to File Third Amended and Restated Complaint well after the
deadline set in the court's scheduling orders, and they
are obligated to show good cause for allowing the amendments.
When determining whether a plaintiff has shown good cause for
a late amendment to the complaint, courts have considered
“(1) whether the plaintiff failed to ascertain facts
prior to filing the complaint or failed to acquire
information during the discovery period, (2) whether the
information supporting the proposed amendment was available
to the plaintiff, and (3) whether, even after acquiring the
information, the plaintiff delayed in requesting leave to
amend.” Arianas v. LVNV Funding LLC, 307
F.R.D. 615, 616-17 (M.D. Fla. 2015).
other grounds, the court may deny leave to amend a pleading
when a party has unduly delayed in seeking leave for the
amendment. Burger King Corp. v. Weaver, 169 F.3d
1310, 1319 (11th Cir. 1999) (quoting Forman v.
Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962)). In Weaver,
the Eleventh Circuit affirmed a denial of leave to amend on
undue delay grounds where forty months had passed since the
filing of the original counterclaim, the new counterclaims
would require proof of different facts, and the only apparent
reason for the delay in asserting the counterclaims was the
retention of a new attorney. Id. The Eleventh
Circuit also has affirmed the denial of leave to amend a
complaint where the plaintiff proposed the amendment more
than a year after it was placed on notice of a legal
deficiency, the proposed amendment raised a new theory not
proposed in a first amended complaint, and the plaintiff
failed to offer an adequate explanation for its delay.
Andrx Pharms., Inc. v. Elan Corp., PLC, 421 F.3d
1227, 1236-37 (11th Cir. 2005).
court also may deny leave to amend a pleading when the
proposed amendment is futile. Weaver, 169 F.3d at
1319. An amendment is futile if the complaint is still
subject to dismissal with the amendment. Id. at
court addresses Plaintiffs' proposed amendments in the
order they are discussed in the Motion for Leave to File
Third Amended and Restated Complaint.
Plaintiffs Will be Permitted to Add Conspiracy Allegations in
the Third Amended Complaint
seek leave to amend their § 1983 claims to add
allegations that Defendants conspired to violate their
constitutional rights. (Doc. # 133 at 6-8). Defendant
Judicial Correction Services (“JCS”) opposes the
proposed amendments on the ground that Plaintiffs unduly
delayed in seeking the amendments. (Doc. # 136 at 2-3).
Additionally, Defendant JCS insists that the proposed
amendments would prejudice Defendants because discovery has
concluded in this matter. (Id. at 3-4). Defendant
JCS also argues that the proposed amendments are futile
because Plaintiffs now claim that the Columbiana Municipal
Court's judge failed to consider municipal-court
defendants' poverty, rather than their indigency.
(Id. at 4-5). Finally, Defendant JCS complains that
the court's summary judgment opinion in Ray v.
JCS, No. 2:12-cv-02819-RDP, does not justify amendments
to this complaint because the Ray case concerns a
different municipality and a different municipal court.
(Id. at 6-7). Similarly, Defendants CHC Companies,
Inc. (“CHC Companies”) and Correct Care
Solutions, LLC (“Correct Care”) contend that the
amendments related to conspiracy claims are untimely, unduly
prejudicial, and futile in light of the court's rulings
in Ray. (Doc. # 137 at 4-10).
the court is not convinced that Plaintiffs unduly delayed in
seeking to add the conspiracy allegations to the operative
complaint. As Plaintiffs explain in their motion, they seek
to amend their claims in this action to address this
court's summary judgment order in Ray, a similar
and earlier-filed action. (Doc. # 133 at 8). Thus, Defendant
JCS is incorrect in insisting that Plaintiffs have offered no
reason for the delay in seeking to amend their complaint.
(See Doc. # 136 at 2-3). Plaintiffs also have
explained why they waited a few months after the court issued
its summary judgment opinion in Ray to file the
present motion for leave to amend the complaint here. They
waited to file the motion pending a mediation session for
Ray and other similar cases held in November 2017.
Plaintiffs' arguments -- and the court's knowledge
about the progression of this action, Ray, and other
similar cases -- convince the court that there is good cause
for Plaintiffs' delay in seeking the amendments and that
they have not unduly delayed in filing this motion. To the
extent that the justified delay necessitates additional
discovery, Defendants may seek leave for additional
the court is not convinced that the conspiracy allegations in
the proposed Third Amended Complaint are futile. Defendant
JCS highlights that the proposed complaint focuses on the
Columbiana Municipal Court judge's failure to consider
defendants' poverty, rather than their indigency status.
(Doc. # 136 at 4-5). But, the proposed complaint raises
several other factual allegations to support the existence of
a conspiracy to violate municipal-court defendants'
constitutional rights, in addition to the allegation that the
Municipal Court's judge failed to consider
poverty. (See Doc. # 133-1 at 23-27). The
court finds that the legal deficiency pointed out in
Defendant JCS's opposition brief is insufficient to show
that the proposed conspiracy allegations are futile.
the court disagrees with Defendants CHC Companies and CCS
that the proposed amendments will unduly prejudice them
because they are due to be dismissed from the case in any
event. These Defendants will need to file dispositive motions
to be dismissed from the case regardless of whether the court
grants or denies Plaintiffs leave to amend the complaint
because Plaintiffs assert claims against CHC Companies and
CCS in the Second Amended Complaint. While it is no secret
that CHC Companies and CCS are likely to be granted summary
judgment if the same evidence and arguments are presented in
this case as were presented in Ray, the court cannot
say that the ...