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Ikeri v. Sallie Mae, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

August 18, 2014

Angela N. Ikeri and Augustine C. Onuoha, Plaintiffs,
v.
Sallie Mae, Inc. and International University of Nursing, LLC, Defendants.

P. Chinedu Nwaneri, Esq. and Nwaneri Law Firm PLLC, 4655 Nicols Road, Suite 106, Eagan, MN 55122, counsel for plaintiffs.

Robert M. Smith, Esq. and Robert M. Smith Law Office, 100 South Fifth Street, Suite 2100, Minneapolis, MN 55402 and J. Christopher Jensen, Esq. and Cowan, Liebowitz & Latman PC, 1133 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036, counsel for defendants.

ORDER

DAVID S. DOTY, District Judge.

This matter is before the court upon the motion to dismiss by defendant International University of Nursing LLC (IUON) and the motion to amend the complaint by plaintiffs Angela N. Ikeri and Augustine C. Onuoha. Based on a review of the file, record and proceedings herein, and for the following reasons, the court grants the motion to dismiss and denies the motion to amend.

BACKGROUND

This contract dispute arises out of Onuoha's attendance of IUON, a nursing school located in St. Kitts and Nevis. Am. Compl. ¶ 4. In September 2006, Onuoha was accepted to IUON's two-year nursing program. Id . ¶ 9. At the time of his admission, IUON informed Onuoha that (1) he would be offered a student loan through non-party Sallie Mae[1] and (2) upon successful completion of one year of study at IUON, he would be able to transfer to one of IUON's partner schools in the United States. Id . ¶¶ 12-13.

Ikeri co-signed Onuoha's loan through Sallie Mae. Id . ¶ 20. Onuoha enrolled at IUON in September 2006 and Sallie Mae disbursed $31, 486.00 to Onuoha for tuition. Id . ¶¶ 27, 30. In April 2007, Sallie Mae informed Onuoha and IUON that it would not grant IUON students any additional loans. Id . ¶ 31.

After Onuoha's first year at IUON, IUON unsuccessfully attempted to transfer Onuoha to West Kentucky Community and Technical College. Id . ¶ 37. Thereafter, IUON requested that Onuoha take an academic leave of absence. Id . ¶ 38. Onuoha took a leave of absence from IUON and, in August 2008, IUON informed Onuoha that he had been admitted to the nursing program at Essex County Community College (ECCC) in New Jersey. Id . ¶ 51. Onuoha did not enroll in ECCC and instead completed his nursing school at Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College in St. Kitts and Nevis. Id.

On July 19, 2013, Ikeri filed a complaint against IUON and Sallie Mae, alleging that IUON and Sallie Mae falsified Onuoha's student loan application by including a fake Social Security number. On October 17, 2013, Ikeri moved to amend the complaint to add Onuoha as a plaintiff and assert claims for breach of contract, misrepresentation, fraud and emotional distress. On February 5, 2014, magistrate judge Janie S. Mayeron granted in part the motion to amend, allowing the addition of Onuoha as a plaintiff and the addition of the breach of contract claim.

On February 13, 2014, plaintiffs filed a one-count amended complaint, alleging only a breach of contract claim on behalf of Onuoha. Specifically, the claim alleges that IUON failed to transfer Onuoha to a school in the United States after his first year at IUON. IUON moved to dismiss, and the court scheduled a hearing on the motion. Thereafter, two days before the hearing on the motion to dismiss, plaintiffs again moved to amend their complaint, seeking to add a breach of contract claim on behalf of Ikeri and claims of fraud on behalf of both plaintiffs.

DISCUSSION

I. Motion to Amend

The court first addresses plaintiffs' motion to amend the amended complaint. The court shall provide leave to amend "when justice so requires." Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). Leave to amend, however, is not an absolute right and "undue delay, bad faith, or dilatory motive, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the non-moving party, or futility of the amendment may be grounds to deny a motion to amend." Doe v. Cassel , 403 F.3d 986, 991 (8th Cir. 2005) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). "[D]elay alone is insufficient to deny a motion for leave to amend." Dennis v. Dillard Dep't Stores, Inc. , 207 F.3d 523, 525 (8th Cir. 2000) (citation omitted). "Rather, the party opposing the motion must show it will be unfairly prejudiced." Id . (citation omitted).

Here, plaintiffs have exhibited bad faith and have been dilatory in seeking leave to amend their complaint. Specifically, after IUON moved to dismiss the complaint, plaintiffs did not submit a memorandum in opposition to the motion, as required by Local Rule 7.1(c)(2), [2] or move to amend to cure any deficiencies. Rather, plaintiffs waited for nearly two months after IUON moved to dismiss before filing the instant motion to amend two days before the hearing on the motion to dismiss. See ECF Nos. 49, 61. Such delay is particularly problematic because the facts underlying the proposed claims have long been known to plaintiffs. Indeed, the claims are nearly identical to those that the magistrate judge previously considered and rejected, citing a lack of particularity. See ECF No. 36, at 23, 29. The court will not countenance such eleventh-hour delay tactics and bad faith on the part of plaintiffs. Moreover, IUON has demonstrated prejudice, as its counsel had fully ...


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