United States District Court, D. Colorado
FRANKLYN A. JENKINS, Plaintiff,
IMMEDIA, INC., a Minnesota corporation, Defendant.
ORDER AFFIRMING AND ADOPTING THE APRIL 25, 2019
RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE AND DENYING
MOTION FOR PARTIAL DISMISSAL OF PLAINTIFF'S THIRD AMENDED
CHRISTINE M. ARGUELLO United States District Judge
matter is before the Court upon the April 25, 2019,
Recommendation by United States Magistrate Judge Kristen L.
Mix that this Court grant Plaintiff's Renewed Motion for
Leave to Amend Complaint to Add a Claim for Punitive Damages
and to Conform to the Court's Orders (Doc. # 359). (Doc.
# 368.) Defendant Immedia, Inc. objected to Magistrate Judge
Mix's Recommendation. (Doc. # 370.) Plaintiff Franklyn A.
Jenkins responded to Defendant's Objection. (Doc. # 377.)
For the reasons described herein, Defendant's objections
are overruled. The Court affirms and adopts the
to Defendant's Objection (Doc. # 370) is Defendant's
Motion for Partial Dismissal of Plaintiff's Third Amended
Complaint. (Doc. # 371.) Because the Court affirms and adopts
the Recommendation, the Court also addresses Defendant's
Motion for Partial Dismissal. For the following reasons, the
Court denies Defendant's Motion for Partial Dismissal.
Court recited the factual and procedural background of this
dispute in its October 27, 2017 Order Granting
Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration (Doc. # 268),
which is incorporated herein. The Magistrate Judge's
Recommendation also provides a thorough recital of the
factual and procedural background of this dispute and it is
also incorporated herein by reference. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1)(B); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). Accordingly, this
Order will reiterate only what is necessary to address
Defendant's Objection (Doc. # 370) and Defendant's
Motion for Partial Dismissal (Doc. # 371).
October 5, 2018, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Leave to Amend
Complaint to Add a Claim for Punitive Damages (“Initial
Motion for Leave”). (Doc. # 307.) Due to procedural and
formatting defects, the Court denied the Initial Motion for
Leave and directed Plaintiff to file a Renewed Motion for
Leave on or before February 13, 2019. (Doc. # 347.) Plaintiff
timely filed his Renewed Motion for Leave on February 6,
2019. (Doc. # 353.) Plaintiff argued that the Court should
permit him with leave to file a Third Amended Complaint to
add a claim for punitive damages because recently obtained
fact and expert evidence sufficiently supported
Plaintiff's claim for punitive damages. (Id. at
filed its response in opposition to Plaintiff's Renewed
Motion for Leave on February 27, 2019. (Doc. # 358.)
Defendant asserted that Plaintiff's proffered evidence
was not sufficient to constitute “clear and convincing
evidence” that Defendant “intentionally or
deliberately disregarded the safety of others.”
(Id. at 4.) Moreover, Defendant argued that
Plaintiff's Renewed Motion for Leave was untimely and
unsupported by good cause, and that granting the motion would
prejudice Defendant. (Id. at 12-15.)
February 28, 2019, Plaintiff replied to Defendant's
Response and argued that Defendant's improper attempts to
raise factual issues to oppose the Renewed Motion for Leave
did not diminish Plaintiff's ability to establish the
prima facie case necessary to amend his complaint and add a
claim for punitive damages. (Doc. # 359 at 2, 4-5.)
Additionally, Plaintiff averred that good cause supported his
Renewed Motion for Leave because Defendant's failure to
timely disclose relevant evidence delayed Plaintiff's
ability to file the Initial Motion for Leave, and as a
result, Defendant is not prejudiced by Plaintiff's sought
amendments. (Id. at 2-4.)
Judge Mix issued her Recommendation that the Court grant
Plaintiff's Renewed Motion for Leave on April 25, 2019.
(Doc. # 368.) The Magistrate Judge first determined that
Plaintiff established good cause for moving to amend his
complaint out of time because he “heavily relie[d] upon
evidence that was obtained after the March 1, 2018 deadline
to amend pleadings” as a result of Defendant's
belated disclosures, which triggered Plaintiff's need for
additional fact and expert depositions. (Id. at
Magistrate Judge Mix followed “a new consensus within
the District of Minnesota” and applied Rule 15, and not
Minn. Stat. § 540.20, when analyzing whether to grant a
motion to amend a complaint to add a claim for punitive
damages in a federal diversity case. (Id. at 10.)
The Magistrate Judge explained that, procedurally, the Court
is required to (1) view the proposed amended complaint
“through the permissive Rule 15 lens[, ]” and (2)
apply substantive Minnesota state law when determining
whether a moving party states a plausible claim for punitive
damages. (Id. at 11.)
Rule 15, Magistrate Judge Mix determined that Plaintiff's
claim for punitive damages was not futile because he
adequately pleaded a claim “that the acts of the
defendant show[ed] deliberate disregard for the rights or
safety of others.” (Id. at 18 (citing Minn.
Stat. § 549.20).) Moreover, Magistrate Judge Mix
concluded that neither unfair prejudice nor undue delay
constituted grounds to deny Plaintiff's Renewed Motion
for Leave. (Id. at 19-20.)
filed its Objection to Magistrate Judge Mix's
Recommendation on May 10, 2019. (Doc. # 370.) As is explained
in further detail below, Defendant asserts that Magistrate
Judge Mix applied “the wrong legal standard” and
misunderstood “the relevant facts.” (Id.
at 1.) Plaintiff responded to Defendant's Objection on
May 24, 2019 (Doc. # 377), and argued that pursuant to Rule
72(a), Magistrate Judge Mix's decision was not clearly
erroneous or contrary to law. (Doc. # 377 at 2-8.) For the
following reasons, the Court agrees with Plaintiff that
Magistrate Judge Mix's Recommendation is not clearly
erroneous or contrary to law, and therefore, it will affirm
and adopt the Recommendation.
REVIEWING AN OBJECTION TO A MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S
magistrate judge issues an order on a nondispositive pretrial
matter, “[t]he district judge in the case must consider
timely objections and modify or set aside any part of the
order that is clearly erroneous or is
contrary to law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a)
(emphasis added). Under the clearly erroneous standard,
“the reviewing court [must] affirm unless it ‘on
the entire evidence is left with the definite and firm
conviction that a mistake has been committed.'”
Ocelot Oil Corp. v. Sparrow Indus., 847 F.2d 1458,
1464 (10th Cir. 1988) (quoting United States v. U.S.
Gypsum Co., 333 U.S. 364, 395 (1948)); Allen v.
Sybase, Inc., 468 F.3d 642, 658 (10th Cir. 2006). The
“‘clearly erroneous' standard is
‘significantly deferential.'” Chung v.
Lamb et. al., No. 14-cv-03244-WYD-KLM, 2018 WL 7141423,
at * 1 (D. Colo. Jan. 3, 2018) (quoting United States v.
Gallegos, 314 F.3d 456, 462 n.3 (10th Cir. 2002)).