Mason et al v. North Carolina Department of Corrections
ORDER DENYING WITHOUT PREJUDICE 29 Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART 31 Plaintiffs' Motion for Leave to File a Second Amended Complaint, and GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART 34 Pla intiff's Motion for Extension Deadlines in the Scheduling Order. Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint shall be filed no later than 4/18/2014. Defendant may refile its Motion for Summary Judgment in response to the plaintiffs' Amended Complaint. The dispositive motion filing deadline has been extended to 5/1/2014. Signed by US District Judge Terrence W. Boyle on 4/11/2014. (Fisher, M.)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA
RICKY L. MASON and MARCUS
NORTH CAROLINA DEPARTMENT OF )
This cause comes before the Court on plaintiffs' motion for leave to file second amended
complaint. Also before the Court is plaintiffs' motion for extension of time and to extend
deadlines in scheduling order.
Plaintiffs filed this action in Wake County Superior Court alleging claims under Title VII
of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., as well as claims for intentional
infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and retaliation and
discrimination in violation ofNorth Carolina Public Policy. Defendant removed the action to
this Court and on September 6, 2012, and an order setting scheduling deadlines was entered.
Plaintiffs sought to amend their complaint to add a claim for reliefunder 42 U.S.C. § 1981 for
failure to promote, disparate treatment, and retaliation. The Court denied plaintiffs~ request as
futile and allowed plaintiffs until February 14, 2014, to again seek leave to file an amended
Prior to plaintiffs' filing their second request to amend their complaint, defendant moved
for summary judgment.
Rule 15 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a party may amend his
pleadings as a matter of right under certain circumstances or with the opposing party's consent or
leave of court. Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(l)-(2). Further, Rule 15 directs that leave to amend should
be freely given when justice so requires. Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2). "This liberal rule gives effect
to the federal policy in favor of resolving cases on their merits instead of disposing of them on
technicalities." Laber v. Harvey, 438 F.3d 404, 426 (4th Cir. 2006). A court should only deny
leave to amend a pleading when the amendment would be prejudicial to the opposing party,
where there has been bad faith on the part of the moving party, or when the amendment would be
futile. Johnson v. Oroweat Foods Co., 785 F.2d 503, 509 (4th Cir. 1986) (citing Foman v.
Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962).
The Court first addresses plaintiffs' request to add a claim against defendant, the North
Carolina Department of Corrections, under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1983. The North Carolina
Department of Corrections is an agency or arm ofthe State ofNorth Carolina. See e.g. Bennett
v. Reed, 534 F. Supp. 83, 85 (E.D.N.C. 1981) (Department of Corrections shares the state's
sovereign immunity); Pharr v. Garibaldi, 252 N.C. 803, 808-09 (1960). Where, as here, a suit
seeks monetary damages and not prospective injunctive relief, "neither a State nor its officials
acting in their official capacities are 'persons' under § 1983" and are therefore not subject to suit.
Will v. Michigan Dep't ofState Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989); see also Howlett v. Rose, 496
U.S. 356, 365 (1990) ("Will establishes that the State and arms ofthe State ... are not subject to
suit under§ 1983"). Plaintiffs' request to amend their complaint to include a claim against the
Department of Corrections under§§ 1981 and 1983 is therefore futile and is denied as such. 1
Plaintiffs further seek to amend their complaint in order to allege and attach supporting
documentation pertaining to Mason's activity with respect to the EEOC. Defendant contends
that this proposed amendment constitutes bad faith as it could have been alleged when the
complaint was initiated and is now made only in response to defendant's motion for summary
judgment. In regard to defendant's bad faith argument, the Court notes that defendant elected to
file its motion for summary judgment prior to the deadline imposed by the Court on plaintiffs to
seek leave to file an amended complaint and well-prior to the close of discovery and the
dispositive motion filing deadline. Moreover, although defendant in its motion for summary
judgment contends that this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over Mason's claims due to
his failure to properly invoke jurisdiction and establish his charge with the EEOC, defendant did
not move to dismiss Mason's claims pursuant to Rule 12(b)(l) ofthe Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure in lieu of filing a responsive pleading. In light of such steps, plaintiff Mason's attempt
to cure any deficiencies in his complaint, and this circuit's strong preference for resolving cases
on their merits, see United States v. Shaffer Equip. Co., 11 F.3d 450, 453 (4th Cir. 1993), the
Court allows plaintiffs' request to amend their complaint in order to allege and attach supporting
documentation pertaining to Mason's activity with respect to the EEOC.
Accordingly, plaintiffs' motion for leave to file a second amended complaint [DE 31] is
GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART. Plaintiffs' amended complaint shall be filed no
later than April 18, 2014. In light of the foregoing, defendant's motion for summary judgment
As noted in its prior order, a party may not maintain suit against a state under § 1981 as § 1983
provides the exclusive remedy for alleged violations of§ 1981. Jett v. Dallas Indep. School
Dist., 491 U.S. 701,735 (1989).
[DE 29] is DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE with leave to refile in response to plaintiffs'
amended complaint. As no further discovery is deemed necessary, plaintiffs' motion to extend
deadlines in the scheduling order [DE 34] is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART. The
dispositive motion filing deadline is hereby extended to May 1, 2014.
SO ORDERED, this
jJ_ day of April, 2014.
TERRENCE W. BOYLE
UNITED STATES DISTRIC JUDGE
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