MOLOCK et al v. WHOLE FOODS MARKET, INC. et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER granting Plaintiffs' 24 Motion to Amend the Complaint and denying as moot Defendants' 15 Motion to Dismiss. The Second Amended Complaint is now the operative complaint in this matter. The parties shall mee t and confer and, no later than June 28, 2017, notify the court if Defendants intend to file another motion to dismiss and, if so, propose a briefing schedule. See the attached Memorandum Opinion and Order for additional details. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 06/22/2017. (lcapm1)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
WHOLE FOODS MARKET, INC., et al.,
MICHAEL MOLOCK, et al.,
Case No. 1:16-cv-02483 (APM)
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Before the court is Plaintiffs’ Motion to Amend the Complaint. See Pl.’s Mot., ECF No.
24 [hereinafter Pl.’s Mot.]. Plaintiffs seek to file a Second Amended Complaint to address
concerns raised by the court at the hearing on Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss regarding, among
other things, Plaintiffs’ standing to bring suit and the sufficiency of their pleading. Pls.’ Mot.,
Pls.’ Mem. in Supp., ECF No. 24-1, at 1. Defendants vigorously oppose the Motion. Defs.’ Opp’n,
ECF No. 25. For the reasons that follow, the court grants Plaintiffs leave to amend.
The standard for allowing amendment of a complaint is liberal. Under Rule 15(a)(2) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a “court should freely give leave [to amend] when justice so
requires.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2). The Supreme Court has emphasized that Rule 15(a)’s
“mandate is to be heeded.” Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962). “If the underlying facts or
circumstances relied upon by a plaintiff may be a proper subject of relief, he ought to be afforded
an opportunity to test his claim on the merits.” Id. Denying leave to amend is “inconsistent with
the spirit of the Federal Rules” and an abuse of discretion, id., unless the court provides a sufficient
reason for so doing, such as “futility of amendment, undue delay, bad faith, dilatory motive, undue
prejudice, or repeated failure to cure deficiencies by previous amendments,” Boyd v. District of
Columbia, 465 F. Supp. 2d 1, 3 (D.D.C.2006).
Despite Defendants’ urging, the court disagrees that judicial efficiency and economy would
be better served by first ruling on Defendants’ pending Motion to Dismiss and then considering
the Motion to Amend. Both parties rightly recognize that, at the hearing on Defendant’s Motion
to Dismiss, the court expressed misgivings about the sufficiency of the Amended Complaint’s
factual allegations to support Plaintiffs’ standing, as well as their claims. The court did not,
however, suggest that those deficiencies were incurable. Such deficiencies arguably might be
cured with a more robust set of factual allegations concerning the Plaintiffs themselves, their
alleged entitlement to bonuses under the gainsharing program, and Defendants’ conduct that
purportedly resulted in an unlawful denial of such bonuses. There is simply no reason to wait to
allow Plaintiffs to add such factual allegations to their complaint. The court would have permitted
them to do so even if it had dismissed all or some of their claims. So, ruling first on the Motion to
Dismiss would only delay the inevitable and require the court to expend resources unnecessarily
on deciding issues that might be resolved through a simple improvement in pleading.
Understandably, Defendants are peeved that the time and effort they spent in preparing their
pleadings and for oral argument might be for naught. The court shares their frustration. However,
the Supreme Court’s mandate to heed Rule 15’s generous latitude to amend compels the court to
look past the inefficiencies generated by the timing of Plaintiffs’ Motion to Amend.
Accordingly, the court grants Plaintiffs’ Motion to Amend and denies Defendants’ Motion
to Dismiss as moot. The Second Amended Complaint is now the operative complaint in this
matter. The parties shall meet and confer and, no later than June 28, 2017, notify the court if
Defendants intend to file another motion to dismiss and, if so, propose a briefing schedule.
Dated: June 22, 2017
Amit P. Mehta
United States District Judge
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