United States District Court, D. Minnesota
ALEXIE PORTZ, JILL KEDROWSKI, ABIGAIL KANTOR, MARILIA ROQUE DIVERSI, FERNANDA QUINTINO DOS SANTOS, MARIA HAUER, HALEY BOCK, KAITLYN BABICH, ANNA LINDELL, and KIERSTEN ROHDE, individually and on behalf of all those similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
ST. CLOUD STATE UNIVERSITY and MINNESOTA STATE COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES, Defendants.
T. JAMES, DONALD CHANCE MARK, JR., AND SHARON L. VAN DYCK,
FAFINSKI MARK & JOHNSON, P.A., FOR PLAINTIFFS.
A. FINNERTY, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, FOR DEFENDANTS.
ORDER REVERSING THE ORDER OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE AND
GRANTING LEAVE TO AMEND COMPLAINT
R. TUNHEIM CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
Alexie Portz, Jill Kedrowski, Abigail Kantor, Marilia Roque
Diversi, Fernanda Quintino dos Santos, Maria Hauer, Haley
Bock, Kaitlyn Babich, Anna Lindell, and Kiersten Rohde
(collectively “Plaintiffs”) appeal United States
Magistrate Judge Leo I. Brisbois's order denying
Plaintiffs' motion for leave to amend their complaint
against Defendants St. Cloud State University
(“SCSU”) and Minnesota State Colleges and
Universities (collectively “Defendants”).
Plaintiffs sought to add two additional claims under Title IX
based on Title IX's requirements regarding equal
allocation of athletics-related financial assistance and
equal allocation of athletic treatment and benefits. The
Magistrate Judge denied Plaintiffs' motion, reasoning
Plaintiffs filed an untimely motion and failed to show good
cause for the delay as required by Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(4).
Because the Court finds good cause for the amendment after
considering all relevant circumstances and factors, the Court
will sustain Plaintiffs' objections and reverse the
Magistrate Judge's order.
filed the initial complaint on April 28, 2016. (Compl., Apr.
28, 2016, Docket No. 1.) In Count I, Plaintiffs alleged that
SCSU provided proportionally greater participation
opportunities for male athletes than female athletes in
violation of Title IX. (Id. ¶¶ 2, 44-45,
61-78.) Count II alleged that SCSU's failure to provide
equal amounts of benefits and opportunities to male and
female athletes was in violation of the Equal Protection
Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. (Id.
¶¶ 4, 79-89.)
25, 2016, the Court granted Plaintiffs' motion for a
preliminary injunction, enjoining Defendants from eliminating
or reducing support for SCSU's women's tennis team.
Portz v. St. Cloud State Univ., 196 F.Supp.3d 963,
978 (8th Cir. 2016). On August 16, 2016, the
parties filed a joint stipulation expanding the preliminary
injunction to preclude SCSU from eliminating or reducing
resources to the women's Nordic skiing team. (Joint
Stipulation to Amend Order Granting Mot. for a Prelim. Inj.,
Aug. 16, 2016, Docket No. 40.)
August 26, 2016, Plaintiffs served their first set of
interrogatories and requests for production. (See
Decl. of Andrew T. James (“James Decl.”), Ex. 3
at 96-97, Nov. 15, 2016, Docket No. 72; id., Ex. 5
at 117-18.) On September 23, 2016, at Defendants'
request, Plaintiffs' counsel granted a one-week extension
for production in response to Plaintiffs' discovery
requests, resulting in an October 5, 2016, deadline for
production. (Id., Ex. 6 at 121.) On September 26,
2016, Defendants alerted Plaintiffs that they would not be
able to comply with the October 5 deadline, and Plaintiffs
again agreed to extend the deadline to October 12, 2016.
(Id. at 120.) On September 29, 2016, the parties
filed a joint stipulation to amend the compliant, which was
granted, and Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint. (Order
Granting Pl. Leave to Amend, Sept. 30, 2016, Docket No. 56;
Am. Compl., Sept. 30, 2016, Docket No. 57.) In their amended
complaint, Plaintiffs alleged that, with respect to Title IX,
“[a]t the time this Complaint was filed, only equal
athletic participation opportunities are at issue in this
case.” (Am. Compl. ¶ 39.)
October 4, 2016, the Magistrate Judge entered the Pretrial
Scheduling Order, stating “[t]hat all Motions which
seek to amend the pleading or add parties must be filed and
the Hearing thereon completed on or before November 15,
2016.” (Pretrial Scheduling Order at 2, Oct. 4, 2016,
Docket No. 59.) On October 31, 2016, Plaintiffs received from
Defendants two CDs containing vast amounts of information -
one CD contained 9, 336 documents - in response to
Plaintiffs' requests for production. (James Decl., Ex.
November 16, 2016, Plaintiffs filed a motion to file a second
amended complaint, alleging that the information contained in
the CDs produced on October 31 provided a basis to assert
additional Title IX claims, which they previously did not
have evidence to allege. (Pls.' Mot. to Amend the Am.
Verified Compl., Nov. 16, 2016, Docket No. 74.) On December
15, 2016, the Magistrate Judge held a hearing on the motion
and took it under advisement. (Min. Entry, Dec. 15, 2016,
Docket No. 78.) The Magistrate Judge denied the motion on
January 17, 2017, finding an absence of good cause to allow
an amendment past the deadline under Rule 16(b)(4). (Order at
20, Jan. 17, 2017, Docket No. 79.) The Magistrate Judge
reasoned, in part, that because the additional claims were
based on information available before the October 31 document
production, Plaintiffs had time to comply with the Pretrial
Scheduling Order but failed to do so. (Id.)
object to the Magistrate Judge's order, arguing that the
Defendants' delay in providing the information ultimately
produced on October 31 provides good cause to amend the
Pretrial Scheduling Order.
I. STANDARD OF REVIEW
standard of review applicable to an appeal of a Magistrate
Judge's order on nondispositive pretrial matters is
extremely deferential.” Skukh v. Seagate Tech.,
LLC, 295 F.R.D. 228, 235 (D. Minn. 2013); Roble v.
Celestica Corp., 627 F.Supp.2d 1008, 1014 (D. Minn.
2007). Reversal is only appropriate if the order is
“clearly erroneous or contrary to law.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1)(A); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(a);
D. Minn. LR 72.2(a)(3). For an order to be clearly erroneous,
the district court must be “left with a definite and
firm conviction that a mistake has been committed.”
Lisdahl v. Mayo Found., 633 F.3d 712, 717
(8th Cir. 2011) (quoting Anderson v. City of
Bessemer City, 470 U.S. 564, 573 (1985)). “[T]he
district court has inherent power to review the final
decision of its magistrates.” Bruno v.
Hamilton, 521 F.2d 114, 116 (8th Cir. 1975).
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