Allen v. TV One, LLC et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Deborah K. Chasanow on 10/14/2016. (sat, Chambers)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
NIKKI WEBBER ALLEN
Civil Action No. DKC 15-1960
TV ONE, LLC, et al.
employment discrimination case is a motion filed by Plaintiff
Nikki Webber Allen (“Plaintiff”) for leave to file an amended
complaint and serve additional discovery requests.
The issues have been briefed, and the court now rules, no
hearing being deemed necessary.
Local Rule 105.6.
following reasons, Plaintiff’s motion will be denied.
A more complete recitation of the factual background can be
found in the court’s prior memorandum opinion denying the motion
to dismiss filed by Defendant TV One, LLC (“Defendant” or “TV
(See ECF No. 27, at 1-8).
Plaintiff filed a charge of
discrimination and retaliation with the U.S. Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) against Defendant in 2014.
Nos. 16 ¶ 6; 59-1).
After the EEOC issued Plaintiff a Right to
Superior Court of the District of Columbia on May 13, 2015,
against Defendant, Catherine Hughes, and Alfred Liggins.
No. 1-1, at 4).
Ms. Hughes, TV One’s founder, chairperson,
board member, and television show host, is also the chairperson
and founder of TV One’s parent company, Radio One, Inc. (“Radio
One”), as Plaintiff noted in her EEOC charge.
2 & n.1; see also ECF Nos. 2, at 2).
(ECF No. 59-1, at
Mr. Liggins, Ms. Hughes’
son, is or was Chief Executive Officer and President of both TV
Court for the District of Columbia based on federal question
jurisdiction over claims brought under Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq.
(ECF No. 1), and moved to dismiss the complaint for improper
States District Court for the District of Maryland (ECF No. 7).
Subsequently, the parties filed a joint stipulation agreeing to
transfer the case to this court (ECF No. 8), and the case was
transferred (ECF No. 9).
complaint against Defendant, removing the individual defendants.
(ECF No. 16).
In Count I, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant
fostered “a hostile work environment that included, among other
things, severe and pervasive harassment.”
(Id. ¶ 82).
contains allegations that Defendant retaliated against Plaintiff
terminated in June 2014 after she had a dispute with Ms. Hughes
and filed a complaint of gender discrimination and harassment
compensatory and punitive damages, as well as declaratory and
seeks to name Radio One as an additional defendant to the two
Title VII claims brought against TV One.
Plaintiff avers that
recent discovery has revealed for the first time that Radio
investigation of her complaint and the decision to terminate her
(See ECF No. 47-1, at 4).
Under the original
scheduling order, the deadline for the amendment of pleadings
was March 28, 2016.
(ECF No. 30).
The parties’ request for an
extending the deadline for amendment until May 27, 2016.1
Nos. 31; 32).
Plaintiff filed the pending motion for leave to
Although Defendant references the original deadline (see
ECF No. 59, at 4), Plaintiff correctly identifies May 27, 2016,
as the deadline for amendment of the pleadings (ECF No. 47-1, at
scheduled to close and nearly three months after the scheduling
order’s extended deadline.2
(ECF No. 47).
in opposition (ECF No. 59), and Plaintiff replied (ECF No. 69).
Standard of Review
Because Plaintiff filed her motion for leave to amend well
past the deadline established by the scheduling order for the
amendment of pleadings (ECF Nos. 31; 32), she must do more than
satisfy the liberal standard of Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a); she must
first meet the mandates of Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(4), which requires
“good cause” to modify a scheduling order.
See Nourison Rug
Corp. v. Parvizian, 535 F.3d 295, 298-99 (4th Cir. 2008); Elat v.
Ngoubene, 993 F.Supp.2d 497, 519-20 (D.Md. 2014) (applying a
two-prong test under Rules 16(b)(4) and 15(a) in analyzing an
modified only for good cause and with the judge’s consent.”
(“[D]istrict courts require the effective case management tools
provided by Rule 16.
Therefore, after the deadlines provided by
Following a second request for extension of discovery,
made on August 26 (ECF No. 48), the discovery deadline was
extended until September 30 (see ECF No. 67).
dispositive motions awaits resolution of the instant motion and
the parties’ discovery disputes, which have not yet been fully
briefed. (See ECF Nos. 53; 68; 70).
a scheduling order have passed, the good cause standard must be
satisfied to justify leave to amend the pleadings.”).
To satisfy the good cause requirement, the movant must show
that, despite due diligence, she could not have brought the
proposed claims in a reasonably timely manner.
v. Anne Arundel Cty., Md., 182 F.App’x 156, 162 (4th Cir. 2006)
(“Rule 16(b)’s good cause standard focuses on the timeliness of
the amendment and the reasons for its tardy submission; the
primary consideration is the diligence of the moving party.”);
Rassoull v. Maximus, Inc., 209 F.R.D. 372, 374 (D.Md. 2002);
Potomac Elec. Power Co. v. Elec. Motor Supply, Inc., 190 F.R.D.
determining good cause are the “danger of prejudice to the nonmoving party, the length of delay and its potential impact on
judicial proceedings, the reason for the delay, and whether the
movant acted in good faith.”
Tawwaab v. Va. Linen Serv., Inc.,
729 F.Supp.2d 757, 768–69 (D.Md. 2010) (quoting Rothenberg v.
Marriott Int’l, Inc., No. CCB–08–173, 2008 WL 687033, at *1
(D.Md. Feb. 29, 2008)).
As Judge Williams explained, “Courts in
the [United States Court of Appeals for the] Fourth Circuit deny
leave to amend a complaint past the deadline established by a
scheduling order where the moving party has been careless in
developing his claims or where he has failed to satisfactorily
account for his failure to do so.”
Id. at 769.
The dictates of
Rule 16(b) are not to be taken lightly, as “a judge’s scheduling
order ‘is not a frivolous piece of paper, idly entered, which
Potomac Elec., 190 F.R.D. at 375 (quoting Gestetner Corp. v.
Case Equipment Co., 108 F.R.D. 138, 141 (D.Me.1985)).
consider Rule 15(a).
See Nourison, 535 F.3d at 299.
movant has met the burden of showing good cause, however, the
should freely give leave [to amend a pleading] when justice so
Denial of leave to amend is
appropriate “only when the amendment would be prejudicial to the
opposing party, there has been bad faith on the part of the
moving party, or the amendment would be futile.”
City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 242 (4th Cir. 1999) (quoting
Johnson v. Oroweat Foods Co., 785 F.2d 503, 509 (4th Cir. 1986)).
conducted after the deadline for amending the pleadings that she
learned of the extent to which TV One and Radio One’s human
resources departments interacted.
Based on the depositions of
between July 20 and August 10, 2016, Plaintiff now alleges that
Radio One’s former head of human resources Jackie Kindall and
Radio One’s executive vice president and chief administrative
complaint and made the retaliatory decision to fire her.
No. 47-1, at 4-5).
Plaintiff argues that she was unaware at the
time of the deadline of Radio One’s “close involvement in the
unlawful actions taken against the Plaintiff during her tenure
at Defendant TV One.”
(Id. at 10).
In Plaintiff’s argument
15(a)(2), she also states that there would be no prejudice to TV
One from allowing the amendment, and that she did not act in bad
(Id. at 11-12).
delay justifies a departure from the rules set in the scheduling
order, and accordingly has failed to establish good cause for
modifying the scheduling order under Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b).
16(b) focuses on the timeliness of the proposed amendment and
requires the movant to show that he acted diligently.
209 F.R.D. at 374.
Lack of diligence and carelessness are the
“hallmarks of failure to meet the good cause standard.”
Hous. Dev. Fund v. Ocwen Tech. Xchange, Inc., 200 F.R.D. 564,
567 (S.D.W.Va. 2001).
Defendant identified Ms. Kindall and Ms.
Vilardo as having been “involved in the decision to terminate
decision to terminate Plaintiff’s employment” in its answer to
Plaintiff’s first set of interrogatories, served on April 26,
identified as a Radio One employee, and contact information was
provided for Ms. Kindall, who was no longer employed at Radio
One at the time of Defendant’s response.4
(Id. at 7; ECF No. 59,
Plaintiff may have discovered further evidence of Radio
involved in the decision to terminate her employment well before
the deadline for amendment of the pleadings.5
See Crouch v. City
Plaintiff’s argument that this description was vague and
inadequate is specious. It was Plaintiff’s interrogatory which
instructed Defendant to “[i]dentify all persons involved in the
decision to terminate the Plaintiff.” (ECF No. 47-4, at 9).
Plaintiff objects that Defendant did not identify Ms.
Kindall as a former Radio One employee, but has not shown that
she had any difficulty in identifying or contacting Ms. Kindall
Plaintiff’s counsel did not raise a need for clarification as to
the identity of any of the named individuals, and argues that “a
simple internet search would have revealed Ms. Kindall’s former
position . . . at Radio One.” (ECF No. 59, at 4 & n.3). At the
very least, however, Plaintiff was informed that Ms. Vilardo was
a Radio One employee involved in the decision.
Moreover, Plaintiff’s EEOC charge and claims against TV
One are based on allegations of improper behavior by Ms. Hughes
and Mr. Liggins.
Plaintiff was aware of their connection to
Radio One (see, e.g., ECF No. 59-1, at 2 n.1), and believed them
to have been involved in the alleged discrimination and
retaliation, as they were originally defendants in this case
(ECF No. 1-1, at 6).
Plaintiff even imputes Ms. Hughes’
knowledge of the underlying events and EEOC charge to Radio One
of Hyattsville, Md., No. DKC 09-2544, 2012 WL 718849, at *4 n.7
(D.Md. Mar. 5, 2012) (“[T]o amend his complaint, Plaintiff need
not have waited until he had all the evidence he needed to prove
Plaintiff had ample opportunities to name Radio One as a
A month elapsed between Defendant’s answer to the
interrogatories and the scheduling order deadline, during which
time Plaintiff could have moved to amend or moved for another
extension of the scheduling order if she needed more time for
discovery to determine whether Radio One should have been named
as a defendant.
Instead, Plaintiff apparently did not take any
action to investigate the role these Radio One employees played
(See ECF Nos. 59-5; 59-6 (deposition notices to Ms.
Vilardo and Ms. Kindall dated August 16, 2016)).
diligence in seeking leave to amend the complaint, she has not
satisfied the requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 16.
cause to modify the scheduling order, Plaintiff’s arguments for
to argue that Radio One had notice of possible claims against it
while simultaneously arguing that she herself was unaware that
Radio One was a potential party.
(ECF No. 69, at 3-4).
Plaintiff to argue now that she was unaware of Radio One’s
“close involvement” in the alleged retaliation because she only
“just learned” of the role Radio One’s human resources staff may
have played strains credulity.
granting leave to amend pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 15 need not be
Plaintiff’s motion will be denied, and the amended
complaint will remain the operative pleading.
Plaintiff has also moved for leave to serve an additional
twenty-five discovery demands.
Plaintiff’s first request for
the production of documents included thirty requests (see ECF
No. 59-7, at 5-21), the maximum permitted without consent of the
parties or the court under Local Rule 104.1.
leave to serve additional discovery demands, Plaintiff appears
to include her second request for the production of documents,
which included six requests (ECF No. 47-15, at 6-7), and her
third request for the production of documents, which included
one request (ECF No. 47-18, at 6), as part of those twenty-five
The remaining eighteen requests are not specified,
but Plaintiff states that she “anticipates that in addition to
the demands that are outstanding, there will be post-deposition
demands relating to the testimony of the remaining witnesses,”
who appear to include current and former TV One and Radio One
Plaintiff also appears to include her second set of
Plaintiff’s first set of interrogatories included twenty-three
interrogatories (see ECF No. 47-4, at 5-21), so it would appear
that she has not exceeded the interrogatory limit of twenty-five
set by Fed.R.Civ.P. 33(a)(1).
It is unclear whether Defendant
has answered these interrogatories, but as no motion to compel
has been filed, they need not be addressed today.
allowing this additional discovery “will allow the Plaintiff to
obtain electronic communications between and among Radio One,
Inc.’s employees that were involved in decisions concerning the
requested or anticipated discovery and Radio One’s electronic
Four of the six requests in the second request
for production concern the emails of TV One employees, including
Plaintiff (ECF No. 47-15, at 6-7), and the third request for
production is similarly unrelated to Radio One (ECF No. 47-18,
Plaintiff believes will necessitate additional discovery are TV
Plaintiff also argues that this discovery is
necessary to obtain relevant Radio One communications that TV
One contends are outside its possession.
Even if this is true,
Plaintiff was free to issue a subpoena to Radio One as a nonparty pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 45, and as discussed above, has
had ample notice that Radio One employees were involved in her
employment termination decision.
Plaintiff has not shown with
any specificity a need for additional discovery, and as her
motion for leave to amend to add Radio One will be denied, her
motion for an additional twenty-five discovery demands related
to Radio One will also be denied.
For the foregoing reasons, the motion for leave to amend
and serve additional discovery demands filed by Plaintiff Nikki
Webber Allen will be denied.
A separate order will follow.
DEBORAH K. CHASANOW
United States District Judge
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