Tran v. Rock-Tenn Company
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER. (see order for details) IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the motion for leave to file second amended complaint [# 14 ] is granted. Signed by District Judge Catherine D. Perry on 11/22/2013. (CBL)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
PHU T. TRAN,
ROCK-TENN SERVICES, INC.
d/b/a ROCK-TENN CO.,
Case No. 4:13CV1591 CDP
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before me on Phu Tran’s motion for leave to file a second
amended complaint. Tran seeks leave to add allegations that Rock-Tenn reached a
consent decree with the EEOC in 2012, which enjoined Rock-Tenn from
permitting the existence of a racially hostile work environment and required antidiscrimination training for all of Rock-Tenn’s employees. Rock-Tenn opposes this
motion on the grounds that the proposed amendment is futile and unfairly
prejudicial. Because I find that Rock-Tenn fails to meet its burden of establishing
futility or prejudice, I will grant Tran’s motion to amend.
Tran alleges that he was discriminated against based upon his race, religion,
gender, and national origin and retaliation. His complaint states that his employer,
Rock-Tenn, fostered a hostile work environment against him from 2010 through
January 2013, when it ultimately discharged him from their Missouri facility based
upon the above impermissible factors. Tran’s first amended complaint corrected
the name of the defendant. Before this court’s Rule 16 scheduling conference,
Tran sought leave to amend his complaint for a second time, this time adding
allegations that in December 2012, Rock-Tenn entered a consent judgment with
the EEOC related to racial discrimination in its Texas plant.
Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15, a court should grant leave to
amend freely “when justice so requires.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2). However,
“denial of leave to amend may be justified by undue delay, bad faith on the part of
the moving party, futility of the amendment or unfair prejudice to the opposing
party.” Amrine v. Brooks, 522 F.3d 823, 833 (8th Cir. 2008) (internal quotation
marks and citation omitted). The party opposing the amendment has the burden of
demonstrating the amendment would be futile or unfairly prejudicial. See
Roberson v. Hayti Police Dept., 241 F.3d 992, 995 (8th Cir. 2001). Where leave is
required, there is no absolute right to amend. Sherman v. Winco Fireworks, Inc.,
532 F.3d 709, 715 (8th Cir. 2008). Whether to grant a motion for leave to amend
is within the discretion of the Court. Popoalii v. Correctional Med. Servs., 512
F.3d 488, 497 (8th Cir. 2008).
Rock-Tenn argues that the proposed amendment is futile because the Texas
consent decree is irrelevant to Tran’s claims of discrimination at the Missouri
facility and any evidence as to that decree will be inadmissible. Rock-Tenn also
argues that including allegations of the decree in the complaint will be prejudicial
because of the potential confusion to a jury. However, Rock-Tenn notes that it “is
not arguing that Plaintiff is precluded from contending that the consent decree is
admissible as evidence in this case.”
Leave to amend should be denied on the merits for futility “only if it asserts
clearly frivolous claims or defenses.” Gamma-10 Plastics, Inc. v. American
President Lines, Ltd., 32 F.3d 1244, 1255-56 (8th Cir. 1994) (internal quotation
marks and citations omitted). Having carefully considered the proposed
amendment in light of the relevant standards, I find that Rock-Tenn has failed to
meet its burden of showing that it would be legally futile to allow Tran to file his
proposed second amended complaint. Although it is unclear whether Tran will
ultimately prevail on the claims asserted in his proposed second amended
complaint, this is not the appropriate stage of the litigation to make such a
determination. Likewise, the ultimate prejudice of the consent decree for
irrelevancy cannot be gauged in a vacuum. Rock-Tenn will have the opportunity
to seek exclusion of evidence in its motions in limine.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the motion for leave to file second
amended complaint [# 14] is granted.
CATHERINE D. PERRY
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated this 22nd day of November, 2013.
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?