Arnold et al v. Heyns et al
OPINION and ORDER. Signed by District Judge Linda V. Parker. (RLou)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
Civil Case No. 13-14137
Honorable Linda V. Parker
DANIEL H. HEYNS, MICHAEL
MARTIN, and BRAD PURVIS,
OPINION AND ORDER
This matter presently is before the Court on Plaintiff’s appeal of Magistrate
Judge Mona K. Majzoub’s December 20, 2016 opinion and order denying
Plaintiff’s motion for leave to file an amended complaint and Plaintiff’s motion for
reconsideration of an order denying Plaintiff’s motion to modify the scheduling
order. Magistrate Judge Majzoub denied Plaintiff’s request to amend his
complaint to assert his claims as a class action, concluding that there was undue
delay in making the request and that Defendants would suffer resulting prejudice.
Magistrate Judge Majzoub denied Plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration,
concluding that he failed to demonstrate good cause for seeking additional
discovery, particularly as she was denying his request to amend the complaint.
In his appeal, filed January 2, 2017, Plaintiff argues that Magistrate Judge
Majzoub abused her discretion by denying his motion to amend the complaint
based, in part, on Plaintiff’s failure to move for class certification when he filed
this lawsuit. Plaintiff points out that he was pro se at the time and thus could not
have asserted his claims on behalf of a class of prisoners. Plaintiff also contests
the finding of undue prejudice to Defendants if he amends the complaint. Plaintiff
contends that it is extremely difficult to submit an appeal of Magistrate Judge
Majzoub’s denial of his motion to modify the scheduling order, as it was a text
only order providing no explanation for the decision. He states that if the Court
grants his appeal of the denial of his motion to file an amended complaint, it also
should modify the scheduling order.
Standard of Review
When a party objects to a magistrate judge’s non-dispositive decision, the
reviewing court must affirm the magistrate judge’s ruling unless the objecting
party demonstrates that it is “clearly erroneous” or “contrary to law.” Fed. R. Civ.
P. 72(a); 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A). The “clearly erroneous” standard does not
empower a reviewing court to reverse a magistrate judge’s finding because it
would have decided the matter differently. See, e.g., Anderson v. Bessemer City,
N.C., 470 U.S. 564, 573-74 (1985). Instead, the “clearly erroneous” standard is met
when despite the existence of evidence to support the finding, the court, upon
reviewing the record in its entirety, “is left with the definite and firm conviction
that a mistake has been committed.” Id. (quoting United States v. U.S. Gypsum
Co., 333 U.S. 364, 395 (1948)).
For the reasons that follow, the Court concludes that it was error to reject
Plaintiff’s request to amend his Complaint. Because the Court concludes that the
amendment should have been allowed, it finds good cause to grant Plaintiff’s
motion for reconsideration and to modify the scheduling order.
Plaintiff was not able to pursue this lawsuit as a class action until he was
represented by counsel. See Palasty v. Hawk, 15 F. App’x 197, 200 (6th Cir. 2001)
(citing cases) (holding that denial of motion to certify the matter as a class action
was proper as “pro se prisoners are not able to represent fairly the class”). He
sought to have counsel appointed earlier in this litigation, which request was
denied. Plaintiff eventually was able to secure representation through his own
efforts in January 2016. Counsel quickly moved to extend the deadline for
discovery in order to adequately represent Plaintiff.
At the hearing on the motion, counsel informed Magistrate Judge Mazjoub
of their intent to file an amended complaint to add additional parties and possibly
additional claims. Magistrate Judge Mazjoub granted Plaintiff’s motion to extend
discovery, noting in her decision that Defendants would not suffer resulting
prejudice and that because Plaintiff had not conducted discovery, his efforts would
not be cumulative.
Shortly thereafter, and before the new discovery deadline, Plaintiff filed his
motion for leave to amend his Complaint. Plaintiff did not unduly delay in seeking
to amend his Complaint, as the amendment only could be requested once he
obtained counsel. Clearly counsel had to have some time to get up to speed in
order to assess whether and what amendment(s) to pursue. Defendants have not
identified any real undue prejudice resulting from the amendment. While they
have filed dispositive motions, none of those motions have sought the complete
dismissal of Plaintiff’s claims. While this case may not proceed to trial
immediately if Plaintiff is allowed to amend his pleading, delay alone is not
enough to justify denial of Plaintiff’s request. Shy v. Navistar Int’l Corp., 781 F.3d
820, 831 (6th Cir. 2015) (quoting Moore v. City of Paducah, 790 F.2d 557, 562
(6th Cir. 1986) (“In the context of a motion to amend a complaint, ‘[d]elay alone,
… without any specifically resulting prejudice, or any obvious design by
dilatoriness to harass the opponent, should not suffice as reason for denial.’ ”)
Accordingly, this Court reverses the magistrate judge’s order denying
Plaintiff’s motion to file an amended complaint. The Court further reverses the
decision to deny reconsideration of Plaintiff’s motion to modify the scheduling
order, as that decision was premised on the denial of his motion to amend.
IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff’s motion for leave to file an amended
complaint is GRANTED and the Complaint attached to Plaintiff’s motion is
deemed filed as of today;
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration of
his motion to extend the scheduling order is GRANTED. A telephonic scheduling
conference is scheduled for Friday, June 30, 2017, at 9:00 a.m. to address the new
dates for this matter.
s/ Linda V. Parker
LINDA V. PARKER
U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated: June 29, 2017
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing document was mailed to counsel of
record and/or pro se parties on this date, June 29, 2017, by electronic and/or U.S.
First Class mail.
s/ R. Loury
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