Jackson v. Upstate University Medical Associates at Syracuse, Inc. et al
DECISION and ORDER. ORDERED that Plaintiff's cross-motion for leave to file a second amended complaint is GRANTED. Defendants' motion to dismiss is DENIED as moot. Plaintiff is directed to file and serve her Proposed Amended Complaint within twenty days of the date of this decision. Defendants are directed to answer or move against the newly amended pleading within twenty days of service. Signed by Judge David N. Hurd on 12/4/2013. (dpk)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
SUNY UPSTATE MEDICAL UNIVERSITY
and KAREN BATTAGLIA, Individually,
LEVINE, BLIT LAW FIRM
Attorney for Plaintiff
499 South Warren Street
Syracuse, NY 13202
LEWIS G. SPICER, ESQ.
HON. ERIC T. SCHNEIDERMAN
Attorney General of the State of New York
Attorney for Defendants
615 Erie Boulevard West
Syracuse, NY 13204
TIMOTHY P. MULVEY, ESQ.
Ass't Attorney General
DAVID N. HURD
United States District Judge
DECISION and ORDER
Plaintiff Lakia Jackson ("Jackson" or "plaintiff") brings this action against defendants
SUNY Upstate Medical University and Karen Battaglia (collectively "defendants") alleging
sex, race, and disability discrimination in violation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of
1978 ("PDA"), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), New York Human Rights
Law ("NYHRL"), and the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"). She seeks back and front
pay, compensatory and punitive damages, and declaratory and injunctive relief.
On May 23, 2013, defendants filed a motion to dismiss the complaint in its entirety
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule ___") 12(b)(6). Plaintiff opposed and
sought leave to file a second amended complaint pursuant to Rule 15(a)(2). Defendants
replied. The motion was taken on its submissions without oral argument.
In her opposition to defendants' motion to dismiss, Jackson requests leave to file a
second amended complaint1 to add federal and state causes of action for retaliation as well
as a hostile work environment claim. See Pl.'s Mem. Opp'n, Ex. C, ECF No. 16-3 ("Proposed
Amended Complaint"). Defendants acknowledge plaintiff's request in their reply papers, but
do not contest it.
A previously amended pleading may only be subsequently amended "with the
opposing party's written consent or the court's leave." FED. R. CIV. P. 15(A)(2). Absent
consent, a court "should freely give leave when justice so requires." Id. Interpreting this
liberal standard, the United States Supreme Court has directed that:
[i]n the absence of any apparent or declared reason—such as undue delay, bad
faith or dilatory motive 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, futility of amendment, etc.—the
leave sought should, as the rules require, be 'freely given.' Of course, the grant
or denial of an opportunity to amend is within the discretion of the District Court,
Jackson's original complaint incorrectly named "Upstate University Medical Associates at
Syracuse, Incorporated" as a defendant. On April 23, 2013, plaintiff amended her complaint, substituting
"SUNY Upstate Medical University" as the correct institutional defendant in the action. See ECF No. 8.
but outright refusal to grant the leave without any justifying reason appearing for
the denial is not an exercise of discretion; it is merely abuse of that discretion and
inconsistent with the spirit of the Federal Rules.
Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962).
Where a plaintiff seeks to amend her complaint while a motion to dismiss is pending,
"the preferred course is to grant leave to amend even if doing so renders moot the motion to
dismiss . . . ." Roller Bearing Co. of Am., Inc. v. Am. Software, Inc., 570 F. Supp. 2d 376,
384 (D. Conn. 2008) (citation omitted); see also Hamzik v. Office for People with
Developmental Disabilities, 859 F. Supp. 2d 265, 273-74 (N.D.N.Y. 2012) (noting that "a
court has a variety of ways in which it may deal with [a] pending motion to dismiss").
Here, Jackson seeks leave to amend her complaint to add causes of action for
retaliation under Title VII, NYSHRL, the PDA, and the ADA. The Proposed Amended
Complaint also includes a hostile work environment claim under Title VII and the PDA.
Defendants' reply memorandum of law notes that Jackson "apparently also seeks leave to
amend her complaint a second time to add causes of action for retaliation." Defs.' Reply
Mem. 1. Despite this acknowledgment, defendants do not raise any arguments in opposition
or otherwise contest the propriety of granting such leave. Rather, defendants raise a new
argument in support of dismissal that plaintiff was not given an opportunity to
oppose—Eleventh Amendment immunity under the ADA. See Defs.' Reply Mem. 7.
"The rule in this Circuit has been to allow a party to amend its pleadings in the
absence of a showing by the nonmovant of prejudice or bad faith." Block v. First Blood
Assocs., 988 F.2d 344, 350 (2d Cir. 1993) (citing State Teachers Ret. Bd. v. Fluor Corp., 654
F.2d 843, 856 (2d Cir. 1981)); see also Hines v. City of Albany, 542 F. Supp. 2d 218, 224
(N.D.N.Y. 2008) (McCurn, S.J.) ("It is axiomatic that the party opposing an amendment has
the burden of establishing that leave to amend would be futile."). No such showing has been
made here. Accordingly, plaintiff's request for leave to amend her complaint will be granted.
Justice would plainly be served by granting Jackson's request for leave to file her
Proposed Amended Complaint. It is also clear from defendants' newly raised Eleventh
Amendment immunity argument that both parties would benefit from an opportunity to better
determine what arguments they plan to assert at this juncture.
Therefore, it is
1. Plaintiff's cross-motion for leave to file a second amended complaint is GRANTED;
2. Defendants' motion to dismiss is DENIED as moot;
3. Plaintiff is directed to file and serve her Proposed Amended Complaint (ECF No.
16-3) within twenty days of the date of this decision; and
4. Defendants are directed to answer or move against the newly amended pleading
within twenty days of its service.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Dated: December 4, 2013.
Utica, New York.
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