Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

REUBENS v. NEW YORK CITY DEP'T OF JUVENILE JUSTICE

June 17, 1996

JACK REUBENS, Plaintiff, against NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF JUVENILE JUSTICE, Defendant.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: KOELTL

 JOHN G. KOELTL, District Judge:

 The plaintiff Jack Reubens moves pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a) to amend his complaint to add two causes of action, one under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the other under Art. I, § 11 of the New York State Constitution. He argues that the actions of the defendant, the New York City Department of Juvenile Justice ("DJJ"), violated his rights under the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution and the New York State Constitution. The defendant opposes this motion on two grounds: (1) to amend the complaint at this late date would prejudice the defendant, and (2) the proposed amendment would be futile because the additional claims are precluded by the doctrine of collateral estoppel and are to a large extent time-barred. For the following reasons, the plaintiff's motion to file a Second Amended Complaint is denied.

 I.

 The plaintiff filed the complaint in this action on July 20, 1994. On June 23, 1995, the plaintiff filed an amended complaint. The Court subsequently issued a scheduling order giving the plaintiff until August 3, 1995 to add any additional claims, except for good cause shown. Discovery was to be completed by September 29, 1995. At a conference held on October 23, 1995, the plaintiff informed the Court that he intended to make a motion to file a second amended complaint. This motion was fully briefed and filed with the Court on January 11, 1996. The Court extended the discovery cut-off to January 31, 1996, but the plaintiff's attorney reported by letter on February 13, 1996 that discovery was not complete and could not be completed before a decision on the current motion to amend. The parties agree that the proposed additional claims arise out of the same conduct set forth in the First Amended Complaint.

 Because a responsive pleading has already been served in this action, leave to amend at this point must be obtained from the Court Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a). Rule 15(a) provides that "'leave shall be freely given when justice so requires.'" Nerney v. Valente & Sons Repair Shop, 66 F.3d 25, 28 (2d Cir. 1995) (citing Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182, 9 L. Ed. 2d 222, 83 S. Ct. 227 (1962)). Undue delay, undue prejudice to the opposing party, and futility of the amendment are among the reasons to deny leave. Foman, 371 U.S. at 182; Nerney, 66 F.3d at 28-29; Acito v. IMCERA Group, Inc., 47 F.3d 47, 55 (2d Cir. 1995).

 II.

 The defendant first argues that it would be prejudiced if the plaintiff were allowed to amend his complaint at this late date. "Undue delay" should be taken into account when ruling on a motion to amend a complaint. Foman, 371 U.S. at 182; Mackensworth v. S.S. American Merchant, 28 F.3d 246, 251 (2d Cir. 1994). The Court has discretion to deny leave to amend "where the motion is made after an inordinate delay, no satisfactory explanation is offered for the delay, and the amendment would prejudice the defendant." Cresswell v. Sullivan & Cromwell, 922 F.2d 60, 72 (2d Cir. 1990). In determining prejudice to the nonmoving party, the Court must consider, among other factors, "whether the assertion of the new claim would (i) require the opponent to expend significant additional resources to conduct discovery and prepare for trial; (ii) significantly delay the resolution of the dispute; . . ." Block v. First Blood Assocs., 988 F.2d 344, 350 (2d Cir. 1993). The Court may not deny a motion to amend on the basis of delay absent a showing of bad faith or undue prejudice, however. Id.

 Here, the plaintiff waited for almost three months after the deadline for adding new causes of action to tell the Court that he wanted to amend the complaint for a second time. The plaintiff offers no reason for his delay except that a "further and more detailed analysis of the underlying facts" revealed that the Juvenile Justice's policies themselves discriminated against white employees. (Joel Field Aff. P 9.)

 Unexplained undue delay is not a sufficient basis to deny a motion to amend, however, unless there is a showing that the defendant would be prejudiced by the amendment. Block, 988 F.2d at 350. The defendant claims that it would be prejudiced if the plaintiff were given leave to amend at this late date because the proposed claims would involve a substantial amount of additional discovery concerning the policies, practices, and customs of DJJ. The plaintiff stated at oral argument, however, that no additional discovery would be necessary. Accordingly, the defendant has failed to demonstrate that it would be prejudiced by the proposed amendment.

 III.

 The defendant also argues that the plaintiff's motion to amend should be denied on grounds of futility because the additional claims would be barred by the doctrine of collateral estoppel and the applicable statute of limitations. Futility is an adequate ground for denial of a motion to amend. Foman, 371 U.S. at 182; Azurite Corp. Ltd. v. Amster & Co., 52 F.3d 15, 19 (2d Cir. 1995).

 The defendant first contends that the proposed additional claims are barred by the doctrine of collateral estoppel. In April 1987 the plaintiff filed a charge with the City Commission on Human Rights ("Commission") that he had been discriminated against by his employer DJJ on the basis of race, color, and creed. Although the plaintiff was permitted to submit evidence in support of his case and the Commission conducted an extensive investigation, the Commission did not conduct a hearing on the matter and the plaintiff was therefore unable to cross-examine any of DJJ's witnesses. By Determination and Order of Investigation, dated May 21, 1993, the City Commission found no probable cause to believe that plaintiff had been discriminated against on the basis of his race, color, or creed, and dismissed the complaint. The Commission's Determination and Order summarized the evidence on which it concluded that there was no probable cause, including documentary evidence and the statements of the plaintiff and other witnesses. The defendant claims that this determination precludes the proposed additional claims because the plaintiff had a full and fair opportunity to litigate these claims in the City Commission.

 Federal courts must give a state administrative agency's fact-finding the same preclusive effect to which it would be entitled in that state's courts. University of Tennessee v. Elliott, 478 U.S. 788, 799, 92 L. Ed. 2d 635, 106 S. Ct. 3220 (1986); Kirkland v. City of Peekskill, 828 F.2d 104, 106-07 (2d Cir. 1987); DeCintio v. Westchester County Med. Ctr., 821 F.2d 111, 117 (2d Cir. 1987). Under New York law, "the doctrine of collateral estoppel 'precludes a party from relitigating in a subsequent action or proceeding an issue clearly raised in a prior action or proceeding and decided against that party . . . whether or not the tribunals or causes of action are the same.'" Fletcher v. Atex, Inc., 68 F.3d 1451, 1457 (2d Cir. 1995) (quoting Ryan v. New York Tel. Co., 62 N.Y.2d 494, 500, 478 N.Y.S.2d 823, 826, 467 N.E.2d 487, 490 (1984)). An agency's resolution of a factual issue adverse to the complainant will bar a federal court action brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 if (1) the agency was acting in a judicial capacity, and (2) the disputed issues of fact were properly before the agency employing "procedures substantially similar to those used in a court of law," and the parties were given an adequate opportunity to litigate them. Ryan, 62 N.Y.2d at 499, 467 N.E.2d at 489-90, 478 N.Y.S.2d at 825-26; Long Island Lighting Co. v. Imo Indus., Inc., 6 F.3d 876, 885 (2d Cir. 1993); see also Elliott, 478 U.S. at 796-98 (the common-law rules of issue preclusion apply to § 1983 actions). The proponent of collateral estoppel has the burden of showing that the issue in the prior proceeding was identical ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.