Quarrie v. Wells et al
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO AMEND FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT by Magistrate Judge Gregory B. Wormuth. (bni)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW MEXICO
LINDSAY O’BRIEN QUARRIE,
Civ. No. 17‐350 MV/GBW
STEPHEN WELLS, et al.,
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO AMEND FIRST
Defendants have filed motions to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12 of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure. See docs. 40, 41. In those motions, Defendants argue that, with
one exception,1 Plaintiff’s First Amended Complaint (hereinafter (“FAC”) fails to state
claims for which relief can be granted. See docs. 40, 41. In an attempt to address the
deficiencies highlighted by Defendants’ motions, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Leave to
Amend First Amended Complaint. See doc. 57. Defendants oppose the motion, arguing
that the proposed amendment is futile as it would also be subject to dismissal under
Rule 12. See docs. 59, 60. On January 29, 2018, the Motion for Leave to Amend First
Amended Complaint was referred to the undersigned pursuant to Title 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1)(A) and Rule 72(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See doc. 73. The
underlying motions to dismiss have not been similarly referred and the undersigned
The Board of Regents of the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology does not seek dismissal of
the claim in Count I of FAC (racial discrimination) against it.
therefore expresses no opinion about their merits. Under these circumstances and
based upon review of the Motion and the attendant briefing, the Court hereby GRANTS
Plaintiff’s Motion. See docs. 57, 59, 60, 63.
When a party may no longer amend its pleading as a matter of course, “a party
may amend its pleading only with the opposing party’s written consent or the court’s
leave. The court should freely give leave when justice so requires.” Fed. R. Civ. P.
15(a)(2). Circumstances justifying denial of leave include “undue delay, bad faith or
dilatory motion on the part of the movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by
amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing party by virtue of
allowance of the amendment, [and] futility of amendment[.]” Foman, 371 U.S. at 182. In
this case, Defendants primarily oppose the amendment on the ground that it would be
To determine if a proposed amendment is futile, the Court is to apply “the same
standards that govern a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6).” McDaniel v. Loya, 2015
WL 1323506, * 16 (D.N.M. March 6, 2015) (citing Ganthier v. N. Shore‐Long Island Jewish
Health Sys., 298 F. Supp. 2d 342, 349 (E.D.N.Y. 2004)). Under Rule 12(b)(6) standards, a
complaint must contain “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Ridge at Red Hawk v. Schneider, 493 F.3d 1174, 1177 (10th Cir. 2007) (quoting Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007) (“[A] plaintiff must ‘nudge his claims
across the line from conceivable to plausible’ in order to survive a motion to dismiss.”).
Furthermore, plaintiff must plead more than labels, conclusions or a “formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action[.]” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Conclusory
allegations of liability, without supporting factual content, are insufficient. The
pleading standard “demands more than an unadorned, the‐defendant‐unlawfully‐
harmed‐me accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677 (2009). As such, a proposed
amended complaint that “tenders ‘naked assertions’ devoid of ‘further factual
enhancement’” does not meet the Rule 8 standard and is futile. Id. (quoting Twombly,
550 U.S. at 557), and Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2)).
Plaintiff seeks leave to file a second amended complaint (“SAC”) in order to
make additions to his FAC.2 Specifically, Plaintiff plans to provide an additional three
exhibits, including his academic transcripts, a report by the Ph.D. Advisory Committee,
and three affidavits regarding the June 28, 2016 meeting. Doc. 57‐1 at 27‐31, 68‐82.
Further, Plaintiff seeks to add paragraphs within the facts section, including ¶¶ 60‐62
and ¶64 of the proposed SAC. Doc. 57‐1 at 11‐13. These paragraphs primarily describe
the June 28, 2016 meeting, and note the attendance of individuals previously not
mentioned, some of whom are the affiants in the SAC’s three supplemental affidavits.
Id. See also doc. 57 at 80‐91. It does not appear that these proposed additions would
materially affect the resolution of the pending dispositive motions. As such, if these
The Court dismissed with prejudice Plaintiff’s claim of racial discrimination against Defendants Wells
and Liebrock after Plaintiff’s Motion for Leave had been fully briefed. See doc. 67. Therefore, this
Proposed Findings and Recommended Disposition disregards any proposed amendments relating to the
were the only proposed changes, the Court would deny the Motion for Leave to
However, the proposed SAC also alters the legal basis of at least four of
Plaintiff’s claims. As can be seen in their pending dispositive motions, Defendants
interpreted Counts II, III, IV and V of the FAC as arising under state law. Their
arguments for dismissal hinged on the general grant of immunity provided by the New
Mexico Tort Claims Act (“NMTCA”) and the lack of applicable exception thereto. See
N.M.S.A. § 41‐4‐1, et. seq. The SAC makes clear that these claims are brought under
federal law pursuant to 42 U.S.C § 1983. Consequently, the SAC would moot their
arguments for dismissal.
The Court recognizes that, in their Responses, Defendants broadly argue that
these claims would also not survive under federal law. These arguments appear to be
based upon qualified immunity. However, because of the procedural posture, the
analysis is understandably truncated. See docs. 59, 60. Under these circumstances, the
most efficient course is to allow Plaintiff to file his SAC and have Defendants file
updated dispositive motions, enabling the Court to review the facts and law fully
briefed in a procedurally clean manner. Therefore, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff’s
Motion for Leave to Amend (doc. 57). Plaintiff may file the proposed Second Amended
Complaint (doc. 57‐1).
GREGORY B. WORMUTH
United States Magistrate Judge
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?