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Bailey v. Metropolitan Council

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

September 25, 2019

Jeffrey L. Bailey and Marlon E. Carter, Plaintiff,
Metropolitan Council, First Transit, Inc., Tim Ogren, Patricia Vold, Don Johnson, Troy D. Gustafson, Teamsters Local 120, and Dean Vinge, Defendants,

          Jeffrey L. Bailey, and Marlon E. Carter (pro se Plaintiffs);

          Brian Hentosz, Littler Mendelson, and Holly M. Robbins, Littler Mendelson, (for Defendants Metropolitan Council, First Transit, Inc., Ogren, Vold, and Vinge); and

          Katrina E. Joseph, (for Defendants Gustafson and Teamsters Local 120).


          Tony N. Leung United States Magistrate Judge

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs’ 2nd Motion to Amend Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 89) and Defendants’ Motion to Extend Time to Respond to Plaintiffs’ Second Motion to Amend Amended Complaint (ECF No. 104). For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant both motions.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs filed suit on April 12, 2019. They amended their complaint on June 11, 2019. (ECF No. 5). Approximately one month later, all Defendants but Johnson, who had not yet been served, moved to dismiss the amended complaint. (ECF Nos. 11 & 17). Plaintiffs subsequently served Johnson. He moved to dismiss the complaint on August 22, 2019. (ECF No. 79).

         Plaintiffs then moved to amend their complaint. (ECF No. 89). They state that leave to amend should be granted because they noticed that “correction needed to be made” after they reviewed their first amended complaint. (ECF No. 89, p. 2). Plaintiffs further contend that leave to amend should be granted because this case “is still in the early stage[.]” (ECF No. 89, p. 2).

         Shortly after Plaintiffs moved for leave to amend, the Court issued an order denying Plaintiffs’ motion to deny pro hac vice admission to one of Defendants’ attorneys. (ECF No. 102). On page one of that order, the Court said it would set a briefing schedule on the motion to amend. On the last page of the order, the Court set that briefing schedule by directing that briefing “occur pursuant to the District’s local rules.” (ECF No. 102, p. 3). Because the local rules provide a party seven days to respond to a non-dispositive motion, see D. Minn. LR 7.1(b)(2), Defendants’ response to the motion to amend would be due on or before September 17, 2019.

         Defendants did not respond until September 18, 2019. At that time, all Defendants but Troy Gustafson and Teamsters Local 120 (“Union Defendants”) moved for an extension of time to respond to the motion to amend. (ECF No. 104) The moving Defendants indicate they misunderstood the Court’s previous order and assumed the Court would set a separate briefing schedule on the motion to amend. Both sets of Defendants then filed responses opposing the motions to amend. (ECF Nos. 107, 109). The Court took the matter under advisement without a hearing.

         II. ANALYSIS

         The first question the Court must resolve is whether to consider the arguments Defendants made in opposition to the motion to amend, since Defendants did not timely file their responses. The District’s local rules permit the Court, among other things, to take any action the Court “considers appropriate” when a party fails to timely file and serve a memorandum of law. D. Minn. LR 7.1(g)(6). Were the Court to strike those responses from the record, Plaintiffs’ motion would be unopposed. The Court would be likely be left with no choice but to grant it.

         Such a drastic step would be warranted. The Court has repeatedly emphasized the importance of compliance with the local rules in this case. Just a few months ago, the Court rejected a previous motion to amend that Plaintiffs filed, without even receiving briefing from the other side, because Plaintiffs had not complied with the local rules when they filed their motion. (ECF No. 45, p. 7). And recently after that, the Court issued an order reminding Plaintiffs that they needed to comply with the District’s Electronic Device Policy. (ECF No. 102). The Court expects the same level of compliance from experienced counsel on the other side of this case.

         It is not necessary, however, for the Court to take such a drastic step here. Even considering the arguments Defendants make, there is no reason to deny the motion to amend. Once 21 days have passed after service of a responsive pleading, a party “may amend its pleading only with the opposing party’s written consent or the court’s leave.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). “Although leave to amend ‘shall be freely given when justice so requires, ’ see Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a), plaintiffs do not have an absolute or automatic right to amend.” United States ex rel. Lee v. Fairview Health Sys., 413 F.3d 748, 749 (8th Cir. 2005) (citing Meehan v. United Consumers Club Franchising Corp., 312 F.3d 909, 913 (8th Cir. 2002)). The Court may deny a party’s request for leave to amend only “if there are compelling reasons such as 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.” Reuter v. Jax Ltd., Inc., 711 F.3d 918, 922 (8th Cir. 2013) (quoting Sherman v. Winco Fireworks, Inc., 532 F.3d 709, 715 (8th Cir. 2008)). ...

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