United States District Court, S.D. New York
HASSAN CRAWFORD Pro Se
Arthur Sanders, Esq., LAW OFFICES OF ARTHUR SANDERS, New City, New York, Shelby Kirsten Benjamin, Esq., MEL S. HARRIS AND ASSOCIATES, LLP, New York, NY, Attorneys for Defendants Recovery Partners et al.
ROBERT W. SWEET, District Judge.
Plaintiff Hassan Crawford ("Plaintiff" or "Crawford") moves pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 15(a) and 19(a) for leave to file an Amended Complaint (the "AC") adding Defendants, including, Daphne Ann Cedres ("Credres"), Mel S. Harris and Associates, LLC ("Mel S. Harris"), Shelby K. Benjamin ("Benjamin"), Mel Harris ("Harris"), and Arthur Sanders ("Sanders") (collectively, the "added Defendants"), to the original Complaint, which was previously against Recovery Partners ("RP") and John-Does.
For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's motion is granted in part and denied in part.
Procedural History & Facts
Plaintiff filed the initial Complaint commencing this action on November 19, 2012, alleging violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq ("FDCPA"), as well as violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act ("FCRA"), and several provisions of New York's General Business Law, including sections 380-b and 349 through 350. Specifically, the allegations maintain that RP communicated false information to Crawford regarding his debt and reported false information to various credit bureaus, that these actions constituted intentional infliction of emotional distress on Plaintiff, and that Plaintiff's reputation was tarnished as a result.
On January 2, 2014, Plaintiff requested leave to file the AC, adding Cedres, Mel S. Harris, Benjamin, Harris, and Sanders to the lawsuit. These added Defendants are the law firm, and lawyers employed by that firm, as well as a legal assistant employed by that firm, who represent RP in the instant litigation. These parties have no independent relationship with Crawford aside from through their representation of RP in this matter. The proposed AC contains four paragraphs of factual allegations, only two of which pertain to the added Defendants. The factual allegations relating to the added Defendants exclusively pertain to the Defendants' representation of RP in the instant litigation.
Plaintiff's motion was heard and marked fully submitted on February 12, 2014.
The Applicable Standard
The standard governing motions to amend is a "permissive" one that is informed by a "strong preference for resolving disputes on the merits." See Williams v. Citigroup Inc., 659 F.3d 208, 212-13 (2d Cir. 2011) (citing New York v. Green, 420 F.3d 99, 104 (2d Cir. 2005)); see also Pangburn v. Culbertson, 200 F.3d 65, 70 (2d Cir.1999) (referring to the "relaxed standard" for motions to amend). Rule 15(a) provides that leave to amend shall be "freely give[n]... when justice so requires." Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a) (2). The "circumstances and terms upon which such leave is to be freely given' is committed to the informed, careful judgment and discretion of the Trial Judge as he superintends the development of a cause toward its ultimate disposition." Freeman v. Continental Gin Co., 381 F.2d 459, 468 (5th Cir. 1967) (internal citations omitted).
The Supreme Court has stated that absent undue delay, bad faith, undue prejudice, or futility, the "mandate" under Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a) (2) to freely grant leave to amend "is to be heeded." Forman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962); see also AEP Energy Servs. Gas Holding Co. v. Bank of Am. N.A., 626 F.3d 699, 725 (2d Cir. 2010) ("The rule in this Circuit has been to allow a party to amend its pleadings in the absence of a showing by the nonmovant of prejudice or bad faith.") (quoting Block v. First Blood Assocs., 988 F.2d 344, 350 (2d Cir.1993)). If, on the other hand, the proposed amendment "fails to state a claim or would be subject to a successful motion to dismiss, " or would cause undue delay, bad faith, or undue prejudice, a motion to amend may be denied. Kirk v. Heppt, 423 F.Supp.2d 147, 149 (S.D.N.Y. 2006); see also Lucente v. Int'l Bus. Machines Corp., 310 F.3d 243, 258 (2d Cir. 2002) (leave to amend should be denied where an amendment to a pleading is futile, namely that "the proposed claim could not withstand a motion to dismiss"). Thus, the standard for leave to amend, while permissive, is by no means "automatic, " Klos v. Haskel, 835 F.Supp. 710, 715 (W.D.N.Y.1993), or a "mechanical absolute." Freeman v. Continental Gin Co., 381 F.2d 459, 468 (5th Cir. 1967).
Plaintiff's Motion to Amend is Granted in Part and Denied in Part
The proposed AC contains five counts: (1) Count One for violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act; (2) Count Two for violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act; (3) Count Three for violations of the New York Consumer Collection Practices Act; (4) Count Four for violations of the New York Deceptive and Unfair ...