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International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local #111 v. Public Service Co. of Colorado

United States District Court, D. Colorado

July 1, 2015

INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF ELECTRICAL WORKERS, LOCAL #111, DOMINGO N. MORENO, DAVID L. WILLIAMS, GUY E. FORTI, GERALD E. KING, and VICKI WILLIAMS, Plaintiffs,
v.
PUBLIC SERVICE COMPANY OF COLORADO, and XCEL ENERGY INC. EMPLOYEE WELFARE BENEFIT PLAN, a/k/a The Public Service Company and Participating Subsidiary Companies Retirees’ Medical Managed Care/Medicare Coordinated Plan, Defendants.

ORDER

Michael E. Hegarty United States Magistrate Judge

Before the Court is the Plaintiffs’ Motion for Leave to Amend and Supplement Complaint and to Amend Caption [filed May 1, 2015; docket #62]. This matter is fully briefed, and the Court finds that oral argument would not materially assist the Court in adjudicating the motion. For the following reasons, the motion is granted in part as to Plaintiffs’ request for leave to amend and denied without prejudice in part as to Plaintiffs’ request for leave to supplement.

I. Background

Plaintiffs originated this action on June 28, 2012 alleging essentially that Defendants violated the Labor Management Relations Act (“LMRA”) by breaching current and prior collective bargaining agreements, and seeking to preserve and recover health benefits and to clarify and enforce rights under an employee welfare benefit plan in accordance with the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”). See Complaint, ¶ 4, docket #1. Defendants filed an Answer to the Complaint on July 25, 2012 (docket #16), and this Court issued a Scheduling Order on September 25, 2012 setting a deadline for amendment of pleadings as November 5, 2012 (docket #22).

On September 26, 2012, Plaintiffs filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings concerning their first claim for an order compelling arbitration. Docket #20. On May 2, 2013, the Honorable Philip A. Brimmer denied Plaintiffs’ motion; one week later, Plaintiffs filed a notice of interlocutory appeal of Judge Brimmer’s order. Dockets ##40, 41. Then, on May 22, 2013, Judge Brimmer granted Plaintiffs’ request to stay the proceedings pending resolution of their appeal. Docket #50. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Judge Brimmer’s order on December 9, 2014 and issued a mandate on December 31, 2014. Dockets ##54, 56. Thereafter, on February 11, 2015, Judge Brimmer lifted the stay of proceedings and this Court held a status conference on April 17, 2015 at which the Court reset deadlines for discovery and dispositive motions. Dockets ##57, 59. The following week, the Court granted the parties’ request for extension of the deadlines for amendment of pleadings and production of additional discovery to May 1, 2015. Docket #61.

Plaintiffs filed the present motion to amend on May 1, 2015 seeking “to conform the complaint to evidence developed in discovery; to incorporate allegations concerning events related to the issues in the litigation that occurred after the filing of the Complaint; and to amend the caption.” Motion, docket #62 at 1. In essence, Plaintiffs seek to amend the operative pleading by clarifying the second claim for relief as concerning “increased copayment amounts” and adding another claim for breach of the collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”) concerning “application of ‘Members Pay the Difference’ [“MPD”] program.” See Proposed Amended Complaint, docket #62-18. Further, Plaintiffs request permission to supplement their pleading by adding information concerning the 2013 summary plan description. Id.

Defendants oppose the Plaintiff’s motion arguing that the proposed amendments are unduly delayed, prejudicial, and futile as time-barred, waived, and lacking actual case or controversy. Docket #66. Plaintiffs reply that they delayed seeking amendments to the Complaint in early 2013 to avoid potential wasted time; any delay was not “undue” because the definitive answer to the issue came through discovery in April 2015; Defendants do not challenge the amendments concerning the alleged 2012 reduction in benefits; the proposed amendments are not time-barred; the case alleges systemic, as opposed to individual, violations of the Plan; and Defendants’ discovery (assuming the amendments are permitted) is irrelevant. Docket #69.

II. Analysis

Rule 15 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that, following a 21-day period for service of the complaint or service of a responsive pleading or Rule 12 motion, a party may amend its complaint only by leave of the court or by written consent of the adverse party. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a). Rule 15 instructs courts to “freely give leave when justice so requires.” Id. Nevertheless, denying leave to amend is proper if the proposed amendments are unduly delayed, unduly prejudicial, futile, or sought in bad faith. Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962); see also Frank v. U.S. West, Inc., 3 F.3d 1357, 1365 (10th Cir. 1993).

In the Tenth Circuit, untimeliness alone may be a sufficient basis for denying a party leave to amend. See Duncan v. Manager, Dep’t of Safety, 397 F.3d 1300, 1315 (10th Cir. 2005); Hayes v. Whitman, 264 F.3d 1017, 1026 (10th Cir. 2001). The important inquiry is not simply whether Plaintiff has delayed, but whether such delay is undue. Minter v. Prime Equip. Co., 451 F.3d 1196, 1206 (10th Cir. 2006). Delay is undue “when the party filing the motion has no adequate explanation for the delay, ” Frank, 3 F.3d at 1365-66, or when “the party seeking amendment knows or should have known of the facts upon which the proposed amendment is based but fails to include them in the original complaint.” Las Vegas Ice & Cold Storage Co. v. Far West Bank, 893 F.2d 1182, 1185 (10th Cir. 1990) (quoting State Distribs., Inc. v. Glenmore Distilleries Co., 738 F.2d 405, 416 (10th Cir. 1984)).

A Scheduling Order may be modified only upon a showing of “good cause” under Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b). The standard for “good cause” is the diligence demonstrated by the moving party in attempting to meet the Court’s deadlines. Colorado Visionary Acad. v. Medtronic, Inc., 194 F.R.D. 684, 687 (D. Colo. 2000). To show good cause, a plaintiff “must provide an adequate explanation for any delay” in meeting the Scheduling Order’s deadline. Minter, 451 F.3d at 1205 n.4.

Notably, rigid adherence to the Scheduling Order is not advisable. Sil-Flo, Inc. v. SHFC, Inc., 917 F.2d 1507, 1519 (10th Cir. 1990). A failure to seek amendment within the deadline may be excused if due to oversight, inadvertence or excusable neglect. Id. Additionally, learning information underlying the amendment through discovery that occurs after the deadline set forth in the Scheduling Order constitutes good cause to justify an extension of that deadline. Pumpco, Inc. v. Schenker Int’l, Inc., 204 F.R.D. 667, 668 (D. Colo. 2001).

As set forth above, the Court granted the parties’ request to extend the deadline for amendment of pleadings to May 1, 2015 (dockets ##60, 61), and Plaintiffs filed the present motion that day; accordingly, to the extent the Defendants argue Plaintiff’s motion was untimely, the Court disagrees.

Defendants also argue that Plaintiffs’ proposed amendments are unduly delayed. According to the Defendants, Plaintiffs knew in early 2013, before filing a motion to stay in which they represented to the Court that “all claims in this dispute are legally and factually intertwined with the arbitration issue, ” of the existence of the “new” facts underlying the proposed amendments, but failed to seek amendment then because they wanted the case to go to arbitration. Plaintiffs counter that Defendants ...


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