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Rodriguez v. Brown

United States District Court, D. Colorado

August 6, 2019

ARAPAHOE COUNTY SHERIFF TYLER S. BROWN, in his official capacity, Defendant.


          Kristen L. Mix United States Magistrate Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion to Amend Complaint [#30][1] (the “Motion”). Defendant filed a Response [#31] in opposition to the Motion, and Plaintiff filed a Reply [#33]. The parties have consented to proceed before the undersigned for all proceedings pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and D.C.COLO.LCivR 72.2(d). See [#19, #24]. The Court has reviewed the entire case file and the applicable law and is sufficiently advised in the premises. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion [#30] is GRANTED.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff filed suit on November 13, 2018, alleging that Defendant Arapahoe County Sheriff Tyler Brown[2] discriminated against her on the basis of her race, sex, and national origin, and retaliated against her in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Colorado Anti Discrimination Act (“CADA”). See generally First Am. Compl. and Jury Demand [#8].

         In the present Motion, Plaintiff moves for leave to file her Second Amended Complaint and Jury Demand [#30-3] (the “Second Amended Complaint”), which seeks to add an additional claim of retaliation under both Title VII and the CADA. Proposed Second Am. Compl. [#30-3] ¶¶ 22, 32. This new claim stems from Plaintiff's allegation that on March 27, 2019, she was summoned by a supervising officer and presented with a “Remediation Plan” which requires her to undergo twenty-four hours of additional remedial training. Id. Plaintiff alleges that she had already completed remedial training on February 13, 2015, and that this additional remedial training constitutes continued and unlawful harassment and retaliation. Id. As relevant to the Motion [#30], this alleged retaliation occurred after Plaintiff initiated this action and days after the expiration of the deadline to amend pleadings. Defendant opposes the Motion [#30] on the grounds that Plaintiff's new claim for retaliation under Title VII is futile.

         II. Analysis

         As a preliminary matter, the deadline for the amendment of pleadings was March 14, 2019. Scheduling Order [#22] at 8. Plaintiff filed the present Motion [#30] on April 5, 2019, and therefore the Motion is untimely. “After a scheduling order deadline, a party seeking leave to amend must demonstrate (1) good cause for seeking modification under Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(4); and (2) satisfaction of the Rule 15(a) standard.” Gorsuch, Ltd., B.C. v. Wells Fargo Nat'l Bank Ass'n, 771 F.3d 1230, 1240 (10th Cir. 2014) (internal quotations omitted); see, e.g., Petekeiwicz v. Stembel, No. 13-cv-1865-RM-KLM, 2015 WL 1740386, at *4 (D. Colo. Apr. 14, 2015); Nicastle v. Adams Cty. Sheriff's Office, No. 10-cv-816-REB-KMT, 2011 WL 1465586, at *3 (D. Colo. Mar. 14, 2011), adopted by 2011 WL 1464588 (D. Colo. Apr. 18, 2011). Accordingly, the Court will address Rules 16 and 15 in turn.

         A. Good Cause Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(4)

         Under Rule 16(b), a Scheduling Order deadline “may be modified only for good cause and with the judge's consent.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(4). The Rule 16(b)(4) standard requires the movant to show that, despite the movant's diligent efforts, he or she could not meet the scheduling deadline. Birch v. Polaris Indus., Inc., 812 F.3d 1238, 1247 (10th Cir. 2015); Pumpco, Inc. v. Schenker Int'l, Inc., 204 F.R.D. 667, 668 (D. Colo. 2001); Minter v. Prime Equip. Co., 451 F.3d 1196, 1205 n.4 (10th Cir. 2006). To prove diligence, a plaintiff must provide an adequate explanation for any delay. Minter, 451 F.3d at 1205 n.4. If the plaintiff knew of the conduct substantiating the claims she seeks leave to add, but simply failed to raise the claims, the plaintiff has failed to show good cause, and the claims are barred. Birch, 812 F.3d at 1247. Denial is appropriate when the moving party does not demonstrate good cause for her failure to file the motion prior to the Scheduling Order deadline. Minter, 451 F.3d at 1205.

         Here, Plaintiff seeks to amend her complaint to include an additional claim for retaliation that occurred days after the expiration of the deadline to amend pleadings. Motion [#30] at 2. Simply put, it was not possible for Plaintiff to amend her complaint with these facts until after the deadline. Thus, there is no reason to believe that this failure to amend before the deadline passed is attributable to a lack of diligence on the part of Plaintiff, and Plaintiff's explanation for the delay is compelling. See Colo. Visionary Acad. v. Medtronic, Inc., 194 F.R.D. 684, 687 (D. Colo. 2000) (holding that “[t]o establish good cause, the party seeking to extend the deadline must establish that the scheduling order's deadline could not have been met with diligence.” (quoting Denmon v. Runyon, 151 F.R.D. 404, 407 (D. Kan. 1993)). Furthermore, Defendant does not argue whether good cause to amend exists. See generally Response [#31] at 4. Accordingly, the Court concludes that Plaintiff has demonstrated good cause, and Rule 16(b)(4) is satisfied.

         B. Futility Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2)

         The Court has discretion to grant a party leave to amend its pleadings. Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962); see Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2) (“The court should freely give leave when justice so requires.”). The purpose of the rule is to provide litigants “the maximum opportunity for each claim to be decided on its merits rather than on procedural niceties.” Minter, 451 F.3d at 1204. “Refusing leave to amend is generally only justified upon a showing of undue delay, undue prejudice to the opposing party, bad faith or dilatory motive, failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, or futility of amendment.” Frank v. U.S. West, Inc., 3 F.3d 1357, 1365 (10th Cir. 1993) (citation omitted). “[Defendant] bear[s] the burden of showing that the proposed amendment is sought in bad faith [or is] futile.” Corp. Stock Transfer, Inc. v. AE Biofuels, Inc., 663 F.Supp.2d 1056, 1061 (D. Colo. 2009) (citing Fluker v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, No. 07-cv-02426-CMA-CBS, 2009 WL 1065986, at *4 (D. Colo. Apr. 21, 2009)). Here, Defendant opposes the Motion [#30] only on the basis of futility. Response [#31] at 4.

         An amendment is futile only if it would not survive a motion to dismiss. See Bradley v. Val-Mejias, 379 F.3d 892, 901 (10th Cir. 2004) (citing Jefferson Cty. Sch. Dist. v. Moody's Inv'rs Servs., 175 F.3d 848, 859 (10th Cir. 1999)). “In ascertaining whether plaintiff['s] proposed amended complaint is likely to survive a motion to dismiss, the court must construe the complaint in the light most favorable to plaintiff[ ], and the allegations in the complaint must be accepted as true.” Bennett v. Wells Fargo Home Mortg., No. 16-cv-03185-CMA-KLM, 2017 WL 4675524, at *1 (D. Colo. Oct. 18, 2017) (citing Murray v. Sevier, 156 F.R.D. 235, 238 (D. Kan. 1994)). Moreover, “[a]ny ambiguities must be resolved in favor of plaintiff[ ], giving [plaintiff] ‘the benefit of every reasonable inference' drawn from the ‘well-pleaded' facts and allegations in [the] complaint.” Id.

         Title VII prohibits an employer from engaging in certain behavior, including discriminating against any individual “because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. . . .” 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a). Title VII also forbids an employer from retaliating against an individual because the individual “has opposed any practice made an unlawful employment practice” by Title VII. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3(a). A plaintiff may prove discrimination and retaliation by either direct or circumstantial evidence. See Adamson v. Multi Cmty. Diversified Servs., Inc., 514 F.3d 1136, 1145 (10th Cir. 2008); Anderson v. Acad. Sch. Dist. 20, 122 Fed.Appx. 912, 916 (10th Cir. 2004). Direct evidence demonstrates on its face that retaliation was a motive for the challenged action. Univ. Of Tex. Sw. Med. Ctr. v. Nassar, 570 U.S. 338, 361(2013). In contrast, ...

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