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Labrecque v. Mabus

United States District Court, D. Maine

July 21, 2015

RAY MABUS, Secretary of the Navy, Defendant


JOHN H. RICH, III, Magistrate Judge.

The plaintiff seeks leave to amend his complaint in this action alleging employment discrimination. Plaintiff's Motion to Amend the Complaint (ECF No. 9) ("Motion"). The proposed amended complaint adds a count alleging a hostile work environment and specific allegations of sexual harassment. The defendant does not object to the proposed amendments "insofar as [they] seek[] to clarify that the sole statutory basis for [the plaintiff's] retaliation claims is the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 ("ADEA"), " Defendant's Partial Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion to Amend the Complaint ("Opposition") (ECF No. 10) at 1 n.1; however, Count III of the proposed amended complaint bases its retaliation claim on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII") as well as the ADEA, see also [Proposed] First Amended complaint (ECF No. 9-1) ¶ 87, and Count I also invokes both statutes, id. ¶¶ 69, 72, such that I conclude that the defendant has objected to all of the plaintiff's proposed amendments. For the reasons that follow, the plaintiff's motion to amend is granted in part and denied in part.

I. Applicable Legal Standard

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(2), "[t]he court should freely give leave [to amend a pleading] when justice so requires." Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). Leave to amend should be granted in the absence of reasons "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 amendment, etc" Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962).

The First Circuit has explained:

A motion to amend a complaint will be treated differently depending on its timing and the context in which it is filed.... As a case progresses, and the issues are joined, the burden on a plaintiff seeking to amend a complaint becomes more exacting. Scheduling orders, for example, typically establish a cut-off date for amendments (as was apparently the case here). Once a scheduling order is in place, the liberal default rule is replaced by the more demanding "good cause" standard of Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b). This standard focuses on the diligence (or lack thereof) of the moving party more than it does on any prejudice to the party-opponent. Where the motion to amend is filed after the opposing party has timely moved for summary judgment, a plaintiff is required to show "substantial and convincing evidence" to justify a belated attempt to amend a complaint.

Steir v. Girl Scouts of the USA, 383 F.3d 7, 11-12 (1st Cir. 2004) (citations, internal quotation marks, and footnotes omitted).

The plaintiff filed the Motion on January 26, 2015, see Motion at 1, prior to the parties' February 17, 2015, deadline to amend pleadings and join parties, see Scheduling Order (ECF No. 6) at 2. Therefore, the liberal default rule applies.

II. Discussion

The defendant contends that "the Court should reject Counts II and III of the proposed First Amended Complaint, alleging gender-based hostile work environment and retaliation, respectively, under Title VII... because [the] Plaintiff has not exhausted his administrative remedies, a statutory prerequisite to filing suit under Title VII." Opposition at 1. In essence, he contends that these two proposed counts would be futile. Id. at 4-5. An amendment is futile when "the complaint, as amended, would fail to state a claim upon which relief could be granted." Glassman v. Computervision Corp., 90 F.3d 617, 623 (1st Cir. 1996). "In assessing futility, the district court must apply the standard which applies to motions to dismiss under [Federal Rule of Civil Procedure] 12(b)(6)." Adorno v. Crowley Towing & Trans. Co., 443 F.3d 122, 126 (1st Cir. 2006).

The Supreme Court has stated:

While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.

Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citations and internal punctuation omitted). This standard requires the pleading of "only enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 570. "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

In ruling on a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a court assumes the truth of all of the well-pleaded facts in the complaint and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Román-Oliveras v. Puerto ...

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