United States District Court, E.D. New York
SANDRA J. FEUERSTEIN, District Judge.
On March 27, 2012, plaintiff Anand Dasrath ("plaintiff') commenced this action against his former employer, Stony Brook University Medical Center (the "Medical Center"), alleging discrimination upon the basis of national origin and race in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq. ("Title VII"). [Docket Entry No. 1]. On July 24, 2012, plaintiff filed an amended complaint against the Medical Center, and his former supervisors, Peter Giacopelli, Karl Von Braun, and Jeannene Strianse (the "individual defendants"), asserting discrimination and retaliation claims pursuant to Title VII and the New York State Human Rights Law ("NYSHRL"). [Docket Entry No. 3].
On October 19, 2012, defendants moved to dismiss the amended complaint. [Docket Entry No. 16]. By order dated August 9, 2013 ("Dismissal Order"), this Court granted in part and denied in part defendants' motion to dismiss. [Docket Entry No. 21]. The Court dismissed all but the following two (2) claims: (i) Title VII discrimination claim against the Medical Center, not based upon hostile work environment; and (ii) the NYSHRL § 296(1) discrimination claim against Strianse. All dismissals were ordered with prejudice, except for the NYSHRL § 296(6) aiding and abetting claims against Strianse and Giacopelli, upon which the Court granted plaintiff leave to amend no later than August 30, 2013. The Court referred plaintiff and the remaining two (2) defendants, the Medical Center and Strianse ("defendants"), to Magistrate Judge William D. Wall to conduct and complete discovery by December 19, 2013 on the two (2) remaining claims.
On December 19, 2013, plaintiff served defendants with his motion for leave to file a second amended complaint ("Motion to Amend"), which seeks to reassert NYSHRL retaliation claims against the individual defendants, and for the first time, assert a claim for retaliation under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 ("Section 1981") against the Medical Center, Strianse, and Giacopelli, based upon plaintiff's complaint of discrimination during his call to Strianse on April 9, 2010 (the "April 9, 2010 Phone Call"). Memorandum of Law in Support of Plaintiffs Motion for Leave to File a Second Amended Complaint [Docket Entry No. 31] ("Pl. Mot"), at 1. In support of his Motion to Amend, plaintiff relies upon "new facts which were found out during discovery" that purportedly "remov[e] the basis for dismissal of these [retaliation] claims." ( Id. ). These Plaintiff argues that these "new facts" reveal that plaintiff was going to be given opportunities to keep his job, but defendants decided not to renew plaintiff's appointment within two (2) weeks of his complaint of discrimination to Strianse during the April 9, 2010 Phone Call.
On February 27, 2014, Magistrate Judge Wall issued a report (the "Report"), recommending that plaintiff's Motion to Amend be granted in part and denied in part. [Docket Entry No. 39]. The Report recommends that plaintiff be denied leave to amend to assert retaliation claims against the Medical Center, but that plaintiff's motion be granted to the extent that it seeks to assert retaliation claims pursuant to Section 1981 and NYSHRL against Strianse and Giacopelli based on the April 9, 2010 Phone Call. Report, at 1, 8. The Report further recommends that the discovery deadline be extended and the parties be permitted to engage in additional discovery on these claims. Report at 1.
On March 13, 2014, defendants filed objections to the Report only insofar as it recommends that plaintiff be granted leave to amend to assert retaliation claims against Strianse and Giacopelli in their individual capacities pursuant to Section 1981 and NYSHRL. [Docket Entry No. 41]. The Court adopts that recommendation upon concluding it is not facially erroneous. For the reasons that follow, upon de novo review of the portions of the Report to which defendants object, plaintiff's motion for leave to amend to assert retaliation claims against Strianse and Giacopelli is denied.
I. Standard of Review
Rule 72 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits a magistrate judge to conduct proceedings of dispositive pretrial matters without the consent of the parties. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). Any portion of a report and recommendation on dispositive matters to which a timely objection has been made is reviewed de novo. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). However, "when a party makes only conclusory or general objections, or simply reiterates the original arguments, the Court will review the report strictly for clear error." Frankel v. City of N.Y., Nos. 06 Civ. 5450, 07 Civ. 3436, 2009 WL 465645, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 25, 2009). The Court is not required to review the factual findings or legal conclusions of the magistrate judge as to which no proper objections are made. See Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 150 (1985). To accept the report and recommendation of a magistrate judge on a dispositive matter to which no timely objection has been made, the district judge need only be satisfied that there is no clear error on the face of the record. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b); Johnson v. Goord, 487 F.Supp.2d 377, 379 (S.D.N.Y. 2007), aff'd, 305 F.Appx. 815 (2d Cir. Jan. 9, 2009); Baptichon v. Nev. State Bank, 304 F.Supp.2d 451, 453 (E.D.N.Y. 2004), aff'd, 125 F.Appx. 374 (2d Cir. Apr. 13, 2005). Whether or not proper objections have been filed, the district judge may, after review, accept, reject, or modify any of the magistrate judge's findings or recommendations. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b).
II. Leave to Amend
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(2) provides that a party shall be given leave to amend "when justice so requires." Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). "[T]he grant or denial of an opportunity to amend is within the discretion of the District Court." Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182, 83 S.Ct. 229, 9 L.Ed.2d 222 (1962). "Where it appears that granting leave to amend is unlikely to be productive, however, it is not an abuse of discretion to deny leave to amend." Lucente v. Int'l Bus. Machs. Corp., 310 F.3d 243, 258 (2d Cir. 2002) (quoting Ruffolo v. Oppenheimer & Co., 987 F.2d 129, 131 (2d Cir. 1993)). "A district court has discretion to deny leave for good reason, including futility, bad faith, undue delay, or undue prejudice to the opposing party." McCarthy v. Dun & Bradstreet Corp., 482 F.3d 184, 200 (2d Cir. 2007); see also Ruotolo v. City of N.Y., 514 F.3d 184, 191 (2d Cir. 2008). "The court also has discretion to deny leave to amend... where the belated motion would unduly delay the course of proceedings by, for example, introducing new issues for discovery." Grace v. Rosenstock, 228 F.3d 40, 53 (2d Cir. 2000) (citation omitted).
The Court denies plaintiff leave to amend to assert retaliation claims against Strianse and Giacopelli because: (1) amendment would be unduly prejudicial to defendants; (2) plaintiff seeks to amend after an undue delay; (3) plaintiff's misrepresentations indicate bad faith; and (4) amendment would be futile.
"Amendment may be prejudicial when, among other things, it would require an opponent to expend significant additional resources to conduct discovery and prepare for trial' or significantly delay the resolution of the dispute.'" AEP Energy Servs. Gas Holding Co. v. Bank of Am., N.A., 626 F.3d 699, 725-26 (2d Cir. 2010). Because the Dismissal Order dismissed all of plaintiff's retaliation claims were dismissed with prejudice, defendants did not conduct discovery with respect to any retaliation claim, and Giacopelli has not engaged in any discovery because all claims against him were dismissed. Furthermore, discovery on the two (2) remaining claims the Title VII discrimination claim against the Medical Center (on grounds other than hostile work environment), and the NYSHRL discrimination claim against Strianse - closed on December 19, 2013. Plaintiff did not serve defendants with the instant Motion to Amend until December 19, 2013, the date that discovery closed on the remaining claims and nearly two (2) years since the filing of the original complaint.
Permitting plaintiff to amend his complaint for the second time to assert retaliation claims would unduly delay this litigation and prejudice defendants. See McCarthy, 484 F.3d at 202 (upholding denial of leave to amend where, inter alia, plaintiff did not seek to amend until "discovery had closed" and "nearly two years had passed since the filing of the original complaint"); Ansam Assocs. v. Cola Petroleum, Ltd., 760 F.2d 442, 446-47 (2d Cir. 1985) (affirming denial of leave to amend where, inter alia, "proposed amendment would be especially prejudicial given the fact that discovery had already been completed" and proposed claims "were derived from a different statute"); Rivers v. NYC Housing Authoirty, 2014 WL 1311557, at ...