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Murray v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Maine

December 4, 2018

DAVID E. MURRAY, Plaintiff
v.
WAL-MART STORES, INC., and WAL-MART STORES EAST, L.P., Defendants

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER ON MOTION TO AMEND COMPLAINT

          JOHN H. RICH, III UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         More than two years after the expiration of the parties' deadline to amend pleadings and two days prior to the expiration of their discovery deadline, plaintiff David E. Murray, now proceeding pro se in this employment action, moved to amend his complaint for a third time. See Plaintiff's Motion for Leave To File Third Amended Complaint (“Motion”) (ECF No. 160). The defendants, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., and Wal-Mart Stores East, L.P. (together, “Wal-Mart”), oppose the motion on the bases that Murray fails to demonstrate good cause for his delay in moving to amend and that, in any event, his amendment is futile. See Defendants' Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion for Leave To File Second Amended Complaint (“Opposition”) (ECF No. 170) at 3-10. I agree in both respects and, accordingly, deny the motion.

         I. Applicable Legal Standards

         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).

         Because Murray filed the instant motion long after the parties' March 25, 2016, deadline for doing so, see Scheduling Order (ECF No. 12) at 2, the more demanding “good cause” standard applies.[1]

         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).

         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. P.R. Elec. Power Auth., 655 F.3d 43, 45 (1st Cir. 2011).

         II. ...


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