United States District Court, S.D. New York
September 15, 2005.
JUANA VIADA, ET AL., Plaintiffs,
OSAKA HEALTH SPA, INC., ET AL., Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: KEVIN FOX, Magistrate Judge
MEMORANDUM and ORDER
In this action, brought pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards
Act and comparable state law, the plaintiffs seek to recover
wages, tips and overtime compensation they contend the defendants
withheld from them improperly. Before the Court is a motion to
amend the complaint, for a second time, so that the plaintiffs
might assert a claim that defendants Bok Sil Lee and Nam-Hi Lee
("Dr. Lee") retaliated against plaintiffs Martha Chicaiza
("Chicaiza") and Virgilio Lopez ("Lopez") for instituting this
action by causing a criminal complaint to be lodged against them
in the New York City Criminal Court, for stealing, inter alia,
appointment books, records, rosters and patient information
belonging to the defendants. In addition, the plaintiffs also
allege that Dr. Lee threatened retaliation against plaintiff
Juana Viada ("Viada") by indicating that she would contact the
United States Department of Homeland Security's immigration unit,
so that Viada might be deported from this country.
Dr. Lee has made a written submission in opposition to the
plaintiffs' motion. She contends that the motion should be denied
because the plaintiffs have not submitted, in connection with
their proposed amended pleading, any evidence that supports their
retaliation claim. Furthermore, Dr. Lee maintains that the proposed
modification to the plaintiffs' amended complaint is violative of
Fed.R.Civ.P. 11. In addition, Dr. Lee asserts that she and her
mother, defendant Bok Sil Lee, will be prejudiced by the proposed
amended pleading because it will require them to expend
"significant" additional resources defending a "baseless
lawsuit." Moreover, Dr. Lee urges the Court to deny the
plaintiffs' request to amend their pleading because she did not
threaten to contact the United States Department of Homeland
Security to urge that Viada be deported.
Rule 15(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides
that "[a] party may amend the party's pleading once as a matter
of course at any time before a responsive pleading is served. . . .
Otherwise a party may amend the party's pleading by leave of
the court . . . and leave shall be freely given when justice so
requires." Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a); see also Foman v. Davis,
371 U.S. 178, 182, 83 S. Ct. 227, 230 (1962). The determination
to grant or deny a motion to amend a complaint is within the
discretion of the court. See New York State Nat'l Org. for
Women v. Cuomo, 182 F.R.D. 30, 36 (S.D.N.Y. 1998). However,
there must be good reason to deny such a motion. See Acito v.
Imcera Group, Inc., 47 F.3d 47, 55 (2d Cir. 1995) (citing S.S.
Silberblatt, Inc. v. East Harlem Pilot Block Bldg. 1 Hous. Dev.
Fund Co., Inc., 608 F.2d 28, 42 [2d Cir. 1979]). "[U]ndue delay,
bad faith or dilatory motive on the part of the movant . . .
undue prejudice to the opposing party by virtue of allowance of
the amendment, [or] futility of [the] amendment" are valid
reasons to deny the motion. Foman, 371 U.S. at 182,
83 S. Ct. at 230.
In the case at bar, the plaintiffs made their motion to amend
their complaint for a second time at a juncture in the litigation
when discovery had not progressed very far, and at a point in time shortly after the criminal action which gives rise to a
portion of the claim of retaliation had been filed in the local
criminal court. Therefore, the Court does not find that there was
undue delay on the part of the plaintiffs in seeking to amend
their complaint for a second time.
Dr. Lee alleges that the instant motion was not made in good
faith but, rather, was made to harass her and defendant Bok Sil
Lee. She also contends that the motion was motivated by a desire
on the part of the plaintiffs to cause the two defendants to whom
the allegation of retaliation is directed, to expend resources
unnecessarily defending against what they characterize as an
unfounded accusation of retaliation. In support of that position,
Dr. Lee asserts that the plaintiffs have failed to submit
evidence with their proposed amended pleading that supports their
claim of retaliation.
In crafting a complaint, a plaintiff need only comply with
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8. That Rule requires, inter alia, that a
complaint contain a short and plain statement of the plaintiff's
claim. The purpose of the Rule is to ensure that, among other
things, an adversary party will be put on notice of the nature of
the claim and the relief sought by a plaintiff. The Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure do not require that evidence be submitted with
the complaint that supports the claim(s) made by a plaintiff. The
discovery tools provided to litigants through the Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure provide a means for the parties to gather
evidence that will either support the claim(s) being made or any
defense(s) that has been asserted in response to the claim(s).
Therefore, the failure of the plaintiffs to submit evidentiary
support with the proposed amended pleading, about which Dr. Lee
complained, does not provide a valid basis upon which the Court
might deny the plaintiffs' application to amend their complaint
for a second time.
With respect to the allegation that granting the plaintiffs'
motion would prejudice the two defendants who are the objects of the retaliation claim, the
Court disagrees. The retaliation claim focuses on a hotly
contested matter in this action: whether the plaintiffs removed,
improperly, from their former work sites documents belonging to
the defendants that the defendants contend are needed to defend
against the allegations made in this action. If the Court were to
grant the plaintiffs' motion to amend their pleading, it would
give the defendants an opportunity to explore, through a limited
and targeted discovery effort, the facts and circumstances most
pertinent to this hotly contested issue. Moreover, if the instant
application were granted, it would obviate the need for the Court
to consider a motion made by defendant Myung-Hi Lee to amend her
answer so that she might assert counterclaims against the
plaintiffs. It is worth noting that Dr. Lee previously expressed
a similar desire to assert counterclaims against the plaintiffs.
Granting the instant application would also give Dr. Lee an
opportunity to amend her answer, something she sought to do
previously, but unsuccessfully.
After considering all of the factors set forth in Foman and,
in light of the express language contained in Fed.R.Civ.P. 15,
that leave to amend a party's pleading should be freely given
when justice so requires, the Court finds that justice would be
served by permitting the plaintiffs to amend their complaint for
a second time. Therefore, the application made by the plaintiffs,
pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 15, is granted.*fn1 The plaintiffs shall serve and file their second amended
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