Holt v. Stonington et al
RULING denying 102 Motion to Amend/Correct. Signed by Judge Janet C. Hall on 11/21/2011. (Oliver, T.)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT
CAROL F. HOLT,
TOWN OF STONINGTON, ET AL
CIVIL ACTION NO.
NOVEMBER 21, 2011
RULING RE: PLAINTIFF’S MOTION TO AMEND COMPLAINT (Doc. No. 102)
Plaintiff, Carol F. Holt, seeks leave to amend her complaint, originally filed on
December 18, 2009 (Doc. No. 1). Defendants collectively oppose this Motion. For the
reasons set forth below, the court denies Holt’s Motion.
Holt filed her original complaint on December 18, 2009, listing three claims. Doc.
No. 1. After receiving two time extensions, the Planning & Zoning Commission (“PZC”),
Zoning Board of Appeals (“ZBA”) and Town of Stonington (“the Town”) filed a Motion to
Dismiss Counts One and Two on March 5, 2010. Doc. No. 21. Joseph Larkin
answered the Complaint on March 11, 2010. Doc. No. 24. On June 23, 2010, the court
denied the Motion with regard to Count One, the municipal estoppel claim, but granted
dismissal with regard to Count Two, the inverse condemnation claim, holding that the
claim was not ripe under the United States Constitution or the Connecticut Constitution
because Holt had not sought a variance from the ZBA. See Doc. No. 38 at 10–12.
On December 7, 2010, the Town, ZBA, and PZC filed a second Motion to
Dismiss Counts One and Three. Doc. No. 57. On March 17, 2011, the court again
denied the Motion with regard to Holt’s municipal estoppel claim, but granted the Motion
with regard to Count Three, Holt’s equal protection claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See
Doc. No. 73 at 3–4. Again, the court found that Holt’s claim was unripe due to her
failure to seek a variance from the ZBA. See id.
The parties completed discovery on December 15, 2010. On April 15, 2011,
defendants filed three Motions for Summary Judgment. Doc. Nos. 77, 80, 83. Those
Motions were joined as of June 21, 2011. See Doc. Nos. 98–100. On October 22,
2011, Holt filed the instant Motion to Amend. Doc. No. 102.
A motion to amend is addressed to the sound discretion of the trial court, after
consideration of factors such as undue delay, bad faith, and prejudice to the opposing
party. See Krumme v. Westpoint Stevens, Inc., 143 F.3d 71, 88 (2d Cir. 1998).
Generally, leave to amend pleadings should be freely given in the interest of justice.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a); Rachman Bag Co. v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 46 F.3d 230, 234
(2d Cir. 1995). An important consideration when determining whether allowing
amendment would be prejudicial, however, is the degree to which the amendment
would delay the final disposition of the case. See Krumme, 143 F.3d at 88. A proposed
amendment is particularly prejudicial when discovery is complete and a motion for
summary judgment is pending. See id. (quoting Ansam Assocs. v. Cola Petroleum,
Ltd., 760 F.2d 442, 446 (2d Cir. 1985).
Holt asserts that good cause exists for amendment because she received written
notice that her application for a variance had been denied only twenty days prior to her
Motion. See Mem. Supp. Mot. to Amend at 7. Defendants respond that Holt waited
until June 2011 to file her variance application, approximately one year after the court’s
Ruling informed her that her claim was unripe. See Mem. Opp. Req. Leave to Amend
at 8. At oral argument on November 17, 2011, Holt’s attorney explained that his client
chose to rely on her equal protection claim for monetary damages, and acted diligently
to seek a variance once that claim was dismissed in March 2011.
Based on the reasons given at oral argument, it is clear that Holt made a tactical
decision in choosing to rely on her equal protection claim for monetary damages. On
the basis of clear precedent, however, it should have been apparent to Holt that, until
she sought a variance from the ZBA, that claim was subject to dismissal as a matter of
law as well, either through a Motion to Dismiss, or a Motion for Directed Verdict,
especially following the court’s first decision. See Dougherty v. Town of North
Hempstead Bd. of Zoning, 282 F.3d 83, 89 (2d Cir. 2002).
Although allowing amendment is generally favored, it is this court’s judgment that
Holt sought leave to amend too late in this litigation, approximately four months after
summary judgment was ripe for decision, and it is not the case that this delay was
through no fault of her own. Consequently, Holt’s Motion to Amend (Doc. No. 102) is
Dated at Bridgeport, Connecticut this 21st day of November, 2011.
/s/ Janet C. Hall
Janet C. Hall
United States District Judge
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?