United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
ALDARESS CARTER, individually and for a class of similarly situated persons, Plaintiffs,
THE CITY OF MONTGOMERY, et al, Defendants.
C. LAMBERTH UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
December 3, 2019, plaintiffs filed a Motion for Leave to File
Third Amended Complaint. ECF No. 231. Defendants Judicial
Correction Services, Inc. ("JCS"), Correctional
Healthcare Companies, Inc., CHC Companies, Inc., Branch D.
Kloess, and the City of Montgomery ("the City")
have filed oppositions to plaintiffs'
motion. ECF Nos. 235, 236, 238, 241. Upon
consideration of the motion, oppositions, and partial reply
(ECF No. 240), the Court will deny plaintiffs' Motion for
Leave to File Third Amended Complaint.
Aldaress Carter filed his original Complaint initiating this
lawsuit in August of 2015. ECF No. 1. He filed his First
Amended Complaint in September of 2015 (ECF No. 18) and his
Second Amended Complaint in August of 2018 (ECF No. 145). He
now asks this Court to grant him leave to file a Third
Amended Complaint. Discovery in this case closed on December
19, 2019-sixteen days after Mr. Carter filed his motion
seeking to amend the Complaint for the third time.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(2), a plaintiff may
only amend a complaint "with the opposing party's
written consent or the court's leave." When the
interests of justice so require, "leave to amend should
be liberally granted." W.R. Huff Asset Mgmt. Co. v.
Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts, 209 Fed.Appx. 931, 934 (11th
Cir. 2006) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)). Despite this liberal
standard, there are still numerous situations in which leave
to amend should be denied. If there is a scheduled deadline
for amending a complaint, a plaintiff must show good cause
for why that deadline should be set aside. If there is no
scheduled amendment deadline, there are three instances in
which the Court should not grant the plaintiff leave to amend
a complaint. First, the Court may deny leave to amend when
there has been "undue delay." Burger KingCorp.
v. Weaver, 169F.3d 1310, 1319 (11th Cir. 1999). Second,
the Court may deny leave to amend if the amendments would
cause "undue prejudice." Id. Third, the
Court may deny leave to amend if the amendments would be
futile. Id. The Court does not need to find that all
three factors are present; rather, the existence of a single
factor empowers the Court to deny the motion.
Carter characterizes his proposed Third Amended Complaint as
merely "confirm[ing] the factual allegations in the
pleadings and class definitions to the evidence uncovered in
discovery" and "streamlin[ing] and clarify[ing] the
legal claims in light of the evidence gleaned from discovery
and the Court's rulings." ECF No. 231 at 1. The
Court strongly disagrees with his depiction. Mr. Carter has
tried to present his Third Amended Complaint as some
innocuous document that simply clarifies a few points and
sharpens some definitions. He would like the Court to believe
that he altruistically drafted these amendments for the
benefit of all parties involved; but a mere glance at the
redline version of the Third Amended Complaint showing how it
differs from the Second Amended Complaint (ECF No. 231-2)
immediately contradicts Mr. Carter's characterization of
his motion. Every single page has numerous redline changes.
In fact, the redline version contains so many changes that at
times, the Court found itself struggling to understand what
exactly the document was saying.
defendants ask for application of the good cause standard,
which would place the burden on Mr. Carter to show why his
motion should be granted, which they maintain that he cannot
do. In the alternative, the defendants ask this Court to deny
him leave to amend based on undue delay, undue prejudice,
and/or futility. For the reasons set forth below, the Court
finds that both undue delay and undue prejudice are
independent grounds for denying Mr. Carter's motion.
Leave to amend will therefore be denied.
Plaintiffs Unduly Delayed in Filing the Motion for Leave to
File Third Amended Complaint.
Court finds that Mr. Carter's filing of the Motion for
Leave to File Third Amended Complaint was unduly delayed.
Looking first at JCS's argument, it notes that the
currently operative Second Amended Complaint alleged a
conspiracy involving only JCS and the City. ECF No. 145. The
proposed Third Amended Complaint, however, alleges a
conspiracy between JCS and the Municipal Court. JCS also
points out that Mr. Carter knew that his prior Complaint
omitted any mention of a conspiracy between JCS and the
Municipal Court. JCS specifically stated in its summary
judgment motion that the Second Amended Complaint alleged
"that a conspiracy exists between JCS and the City, not
between JCS and the Montgomery Municipal Court." ECF No.
184 at 51. This means that Mr. Carter's failure to add
this allegation earlier in the litigation was not a mere
oversight, as he was on notice that he had not alleged a
conspiracy between JCS and the Municipal Court.
Kloess also believes that the proposed Third Amended
Complaint makes substantive changes to the allegations. For
example, Mr. Carter has proposed adding a new sub-class:
"All individuals in the Main Class for whom Branch
Kloess was listed as the Public Defender assigned to the jail
docket when they were jailed." ECF No. 231-1 ¶ 5.
Mr. Carter has not given any valid reason for waiting until
two weeks before the discovery deadline to make this
City points out that many of the proposed changes have
nothing to do with information gleaned in discovery and thus
could have been made months ago. The City is also concerned
with the addition of allegations regarding a "tripartite
conspiracy" between the City, Municipal Court, and JCS.
ECF No. 241 at 10. This is a serious substantive change, and
the City correctly points out that Mr. Carter failed to
"list any facts that he learned in discovery for the
first time in support of these claims," leaving the
Court confused as to why he could not have amended the
Complaint prior to the eve of the discovery deadline.
Carter claims that he could not have amended the Complaint
prior to December 3rd because new facts came to light during
discovery. Although fact discovery has been occurring
throughout 2019, it seems strange that he would wait until
sixteen days before the discovery deadline to amend his
Complaint. He has also failed to state any precise date upon
which he learned of specific information for the first time
that would have given him reason to add these new conspiracy
allegations so late in the process. With the discovery
deadline looming, he had a responsibility to seek leave to
amend his Complaint the moment any new information came to
light-not wait until mere weeks before the close of
discovery. Mr. Carter represented to this Court that his