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White v. Verizon

October 15, 2009

SAUNDRA V. WHITE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
VERIZON, F/K/A BELL ATLANTIC NORTH, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Glenn T. Suddaby, United States District Judge

DECISION and ORDER

Currently pending before the Court in this pro se employment civil rights action, filed by Saundra V. White ("Plaintiff") against Verizon f/k/a Bell Atlantic North ("Defendant"), are the following three motions: (1) Plaintiff's motion to amend her Amended Complaint; (2) Defendant's motion for summary judgment; and (3) Plaintiff's cross-motion for summary judgment. (Dkt. Nos. 43, 56, 62.) For the following reasons, Plaintiff's motion to amend her Amended Complaint is denied; Defendant's motion for summary judgment is granted; and Plaintiff's cross-motion for summary judgment is denied.

I. BACKGROUND

Familiarity with the claims asserted in Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, the factual background giving rise to those claims, her proposed amendment to those claims, and the record evidence and legal arguments presented in Defendant's motion for summary judgment, is assumed in this Decision and Order.

II. GOVERNING LEGAL STANDARDS

A. Motion to Amend

Plaintiffs' motion to amend is made pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a), which provides that "leave [to amend] shall be freely given when justice so requires." Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 15(a); Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962); Manson v. Stacescu, 11 F.3d 1127, 1133 (2d Cir. 1993). Elaborating on this standard, the Supreme Court has explained:

In the absence of any apparent or declared reason--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.--the leave sought should . . . be 'freely given.'

Foman, 371 U.S. at 182, accord, Milanese v. Rust-Oleum Corp., 244 F.3d 104, 110 (2d Cir. 2001) ("[Leave to amend] should not be denied unless there is evidence of undue delay, bad faith, undue prejudice to the non-movant, or futility.").

With regard to the undue-delay ground for denying such a motion, the Second Circuit has held that "despite the lenient standard of Rule 15(a), a district court does not abuse its discretion in denying leave to amend the pleadings after the deadline set in the scheduling order where the moving party has failed to establish good cause." Parker v. Columbia Pictures Indus., 204 F.3d 326, 340 (2d Cir. 2000).

With regard to the undue-prejudice ground for denying such a motion, while as a general rule permission to amend a complaint should be freely given, "'the trial court [is] required to take into account any prejudice' that might result to the party opposing the amendment." Ansam Assocs., Inc. v. Cola Petroleum, Ltd., 760 F.2d 442, 446 (2d Cir. 1985) (leave to amend denied where new claim concerned different period of time and different theory of recovery from original claim) (quoting Zenith Radio Corp. v. Hazeltine Research, Inc., 401 U.S. 321, 330-31 [1971]). For example, in Ansam Associates, the Second Circuit held that permitting Plaintiff to allege a "new set of operative facts" would have been "especially prejudicial [to the defendant] given the fact that discovery had already been completed and [defendant] had already filed a motion for summary judgment." Ansam Associates, 760 F.2d at 446.

With regard to the futility ground for denying such a motion, a court measures futility under the same standard as a motion to dismiss under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). Nettis v. Levitt, 241 F.2d 186, 194 n.4 (2d Cir 2001); Ricciuti v. New York City Transit Auth., 941 F.2d 119, 123 (2d Cir. 1991). In considering such a motion to dismiss, the Court accepts as true the plaintiff's factual allegations and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of him. Board of Educ. of Pawling Cent. Sch. Dist. v. Schultz, 290 F.3d 476, 479 (2d Cir. 2002). A defendant may base the dismissal on either or both of two grounds: (1) a challenge to the "sufficiency of the pleading" under Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2),*fn1 or (2) a challenge to the legal cognizability of the claim.*fn2

Finally, it should be noted that, while Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a) generally governs the amendment of complaints, in the case of proposed amendments that seek to add new defendants the Court must look also to Fed. R. Civ. P. 21. U.S. v. Chilstead Building Co., 96-CV-0641, 1997 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18134, at *2 (N.D.N.Y. Nov. 7, 1997) (McAvoy, C.J.) (citations omitted). Rule 21 states that a party may be added to an action "at any stage of the action and on such terms as are just." Fed. R. Civ. P. 21; Chilstead, 1997 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18134, at *2.Rule 21 is "intended to permit the bringing in of a person, who through inadvertence, mistake or for some other reason, had not been made a party and whose presence as a party is later found necessary or desirable." U.S. v. Commercial Bank of N. Am., 31 F.R.D. 133, 135 (S.D.N.Y. 1962) (internal quotations omitted). Addition of parties ...


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