Saunders v. Wilkie, et al
ORDER AND REASONS denying 75 MOTION and OBJECTION to and Request for Reconsideration and Reversal of the Magistrate Judge's 74 Order. For the reasons stated herein, the Court OVERRULES plaintiff's objections to the Magistrate Judge's order and DENIES his request for reconsideration and reversal of the Magistrate Judge's order denying his leave to amend his complaint. Signed by Judge Sarah S. Vance on 11/18/2020. (mm)
Case 2:19-cv-11482-SSV-MBN Document 81 Filed 11/18/20 Page 1 of 6
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
ROBERT WILKIE, SECRETARY, U.S.
DEPT. OF VETERANS AFFAIRS, ET AL.
SECTION “R” (5)
ORDER AND REASONS
Plaintiff objects to Magistrate Judge Michael North’s order denying
leave to file an amended complaint. 1 Defendant opposes the objection. 2
Because the Magistrate Judge’s opinion was not clearly erroneous or
contrary to law, the Court overrules the objection.
This case arises from an employment dispute.
Plaintiff filed a
complaint in this Court on July 2, 2019.3 After a conference, the Court issued
a scheduling order that established May 26, 2020, as the deadline for
amendments to the pleadings.4 On June 16, 2020, after the deadline had
expired, plaintiff moved for leave to file an amended complaint. 5
R. Doc. 75.
R. Doc. 78
R. Doc. 1.
R. Doc. 56 at 1.
R. Doc. 72.
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Plaintiff’s motion was referred to
government opposed the motion.6
Magistrate Judge Michael North, and he denied it, finding that plaintiff
failed to show good cause under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16. 7 Plaintiff
timely objected under Federal Rule of Procedure 72(a).8
When a plaintiff timely objects to a magistrate judge’s order, the
district court may “modify or set aside any part of the order that is clearly
erroneous or is contrary to law.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(a). For the following
reasons, the Court finds that Magistrate Judge North’s order was not clearly
erroneous or contrary to law.
Under Rule 15(a)(1), a plaintiff may amend the complaint once, as a
matter of course, “within 21 days of serving it,” or within 21 days of a
responsive pleading or motion under Rule 12(b), (e), or (f). After that period,
a party may “amend its pleading only with the opposing party’s consent or
the court’s leave.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2). But, a party’s ability to amend its
pleadings may be further limited by a court’s scheduling order if it sets a
deadline for amended pleadings. See Sw. Bell Tel. Co. v. City of El Paso, 346
R. Doc. 73.
R. Doc. 74.
R. Doc. 75.
Case 2:19-cv-11482-SSV-MBN Document 81 Filed 11/18/20 Page 3 of 6
F.3d 541, 546 (5th Cir. 2003). In such a case, an untimely attempt to amend
the complaint requires a showing of good cause to extend the deadline under
In making its determination of good cause, the Court
considers four factors: (1) the explanation for the failure to timely move for
leave to amend; (2) the importance of the amendment; (3) potential
prejudice in allowing the amendment; and (4) the availability of a
continuance to cure such prejudice. Id.
The Court will consider the proposed amendments under Rule 15(a)
only upon a showing of good cause to extend the deadline in the scheduling
order. Id. Even if the permissive Rule 15(a) standard applies, a district court
may “deny a motion to amend if it is futile.” Stripling v. Jordan Prod. Co.,
LLC, 234 F.3d 863, 872-73 (5th Cir. 2000).
The Fifth Circuit defines
“futility” to mean that “the amended complaint would fail to state a claim
upon which relief could be granted,” and applies the “same standard of legal
sufficiency as applies under Rule 12(b)(6).” Id.
As other courts in the Fifth Circuit have noted, “the good cause inquiry
focuses on the diligence of the party seeking to modify the scheduling order.”
E.E.O.C. v. Serv. Temps, No. 08-1552, 2009 WL 3294863, at *3 (N.D. Tex.
Oct. 13, 2009), aff’d, 679 F.3d 323 (5th Cir. 2012)). The Fifth Circuit in
E.E.O.C. v. Service Temps, 679 F.3d at 334, held that it is “squarely within
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[the district court’s] sound discretion” to deny leave to amend under Rule
16(b)(4) if it finds that the plaintiff has not satisfied the first good-cause
factor by “account[ing] for its delay.”
As noted, the Court’s scheduling order set the deadline for
amendments as May 26, 2020.9 Plaintiff moved for leave to amend his
complaint on June 16, 2020.10 In his motion, plaintiff did not provide an
explanation for why he failed to comply with the Court’s deadline. Plaintiff’s
failure to explain his delay is “dispositive.” Id. Accordingly, Magistrate
Judge North’s order, finding that plaintiff failed to show good cause and
denying plaintiff’s request for leave to amend, was not clearly erroneous or
contrary to law.
Additional reasons support the Court’s conclusion. As to the second
good cause factor, the Court finds that the proposed amendments lack
importance. Plaintiff states that he is not raising new facts or allegations, but
only seeks to add a “legally required” defendant—the United States—and to
bring claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1981(b). 11 Neither of these additions is
“important.” First, defendants moved on their own to add the United States
R. Doc. 56 at 1.
R. Doc. 72.
R. Doc. 75-1 at 3, 4.
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as a party in substitution for the individual defendants. 12 The Court granted
the motion. 13 It found that, under 28 U.S.C. § 2679(d)(1), the United States
was “automatically substituted” for the individual defendants after the
Government certified that the individual defendants were acting in the scope
of their employment. 14 Second, plaintiff cannot maintain a claim under
42 U.S.C. § 1981(b).
In both the original complaint and his proposed
amended complaint, Saunders alleges violations of Title VII.15 “It is well
settled that the provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act applicable to
claims of racial discrimination in federal employment are the exclusive and
preemptive remedy for such claims.” Hampton v. I.R.S., 913 F.2d 180, 18283 (5th Cir. 1990). The Fifth Circuit has expressly found that Title VII
preempts a § 1981 claim “where a plaintiff brings a § 1981 claim based on the
same facts as the Title VII claim.” Sapp v. Potter, 413 F. App’x 750, 753
(2011); Rowe v. Sullivan, 967 F.2d 186, 189-90 (5th Cir. 1992). Plaintiff’s
proposed amended complaint makes clear that his § 1981 claims are based
on the same facts as his Title VII claims. 16 Because plaintiff’s § 1981 claims
R. Doc. 47 at 1.
R. Doc. 79 at 11.
Id. at 12.
R. Doc. 75-4 at 2 (Proposed Amended Complaint); R. Doc. 1 at 2
R. Doc. 75-4 at 3 (“[T]he facts, actions, omissions and torts described
as committed by the defendants in his original Complaint are also in
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are preempted by Title VII, the Court finds that plaintiff’s proposed
amendment to add these claims is unimportant. For the same reasons, even
if plaintiff had shown good cause to add his § 1981 claims, the Court finds
that this amendment would be “futile.” Stripling, 234 F.3d at 873.
Therefore, the Court finds that Magistrate Judge North’s order was not
clearly erroneous or contrary to law. The Court declines to modify or set
aside any part of Magistrate Judge North’s order.
For the foregoing reasons, the Court OVERRULES plaintiff’s
objections to the Magistrate Judge’s order and DENIES his request for
reconsideration and reversal of the Magistrate Judge’s order denying his
leave to amend his complaint.
New Orleans, Louisiana, this _____ day of November, 2020.
SARAH S. VANCE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
violation of Federal Law Statutes prohibiting Racial Discrimination and
Interference in Employment mandated by 42 U.S.C. § 1981(b). . . . [sic]”).
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