Yaeger v. Signal Lake Management, LLC et al
Opinion and Order. Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Amend Complaint (Related doc # 33 ) is granted. Plaintiff shall file amended pleading by 9/18/2017. Defendant Mark Owenby's Motion to Dismiss (Related doc # 22 ) is denied. Defendants Signal Lake Management, Barton Stuck, Mark Owenby and Signal Lake General Partner's Motion to Dismiss (Related doc # 23 ) is denied. Judge Christopher A. Boyko on 8/28/2017. (H,CM)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO
SIGNAL LAKE MANAGEMENT,
LLC, et al.,
CASE NO. 5:16CV2407
JUDGE CHRISTOPHER A. BOYKO
OPINION AND ORDER
CHRISTOPHER A. BOYKO, J.:
This matter comes before the Court upon the pending motions: (1) Motion (ECF DKT
#22) of Defendant, Mark A. Owenby, to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction
(Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2)); (2) Motion (ECF DKT #23) of Defendants, Signal Lake Management
LLC, Barton Stuck, Mark Owenby, Signal Lake General Partner LLC, to Dismiss for Failure
to State a Claim Upon Which Relief May Be Granted (Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)); and (3)
Alternative Motion (ECF DKT #33) of Plaintiff, Hal Yaeger, for Leave to Amend Complaint.
For the following reasons, the Motion for Leave to Amend is granted and the Motions to
Dismiss are denied.
I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND
According to Plaintiff’s Complaint, in January of 2013, Plaintiff met with Defendant
Stuck and discussed Plaintiff’s potential employment with Defendants Signal Lake
Management and/or Signal Lake General Partner, assisting in researching, securing and
managing investment opportunities in Ohio. Plaintiff alleges that he was not justly
compensated for the services he provided Defendants under the terms of an Oral Employment
Agreement and an Operating Partner Employment Agreement. He claims Breach of Contract;
Unjust Enrichment; Promissory Estoppel; Fraud; Violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act;
Violation of the Ohio Wage Act; Violation of the Ohio Prompt Pay Act; Alter Ego; and
Fraudulent Conveyance as against Defendant Stuck.
Defendants move for dismissal on the grounds that Plaintiff’s claims are barred by res
judicata because they arise from a transaction or transactions which were already litigated in a
Lake County Ohio lawsuit. Also, Defendants argue that Plaintiff fails to adequately plead
misconduct against each separately named Defendant and fails to plead a plausible claim for
fraud. In addition, Defendants assert that the wage claims are time-barred.
Plaintiff opposes the dismissal motion and seeks leave to amend “to rectify the alleged
shortcomings in the specificity of his averments” and “to clarify the basis of his claims, i.e.,
that they arise from transactions not covered by the Promissory Note or the Lake County
Judgment [on that Note].”
II. LAW AND ANALYSIS
Motion to Amend
Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2) reads in part, “The court should freely give leave [to amend]
when justice so requires.” However, this liberal amendment policy is not without limits. The
Sixth Circuit has observed: “A motion to amend a complaint should be denied if the
amendment is brought in bad faith, for dilatory purposes, results in undue delay or prejudice
to the opposing party, or would be futile.” Colvin v. Caruso, 605 F.3d 282, 294 (6th
Cir.2010) (citing Crawford v. Roane, 53 F.3d 750, 753 (6th Cir.1995)). Defendants do not
charge Plaintiff with bad faith; although they do argue undue delay, prejudice and futility.
Delay, by itself, “does not justify denial of leave to amend.” Morse v. McWhorter,
290 F.3d 800 (6th Cir.2002). In addition, when discovery is in the early stages, any prejudice
from entertaining an amended pleading is minimal. Addressing the contention that an
amendment might necessitate another dispositive motion, the Sixth Circuit also noted that
“another round of motion practice ... does not rise to the level of prejudice that would warrant
denial of leave to amend.” Morse, 290 F.3d at 801.
“In determining what constitutes prejudice, the court considers whether the assertion
of the new claim or defense would: require the opponent to expend significant additional
resources to conduct discovery and prepare for trial; significantly delay the resolution of the
dispute; or prevent the plaintiff from bringing a timely action in another jurisdiction.” Phelps
v. McClellan, 30 F.3d 658, 663 (6th Cir.1994). In the instant situation, the Court believes that
these factors weigh in favor of allowing Plaintiff to amend.
Defendants insist that Plaintiff’s proposed amendment would be futile. However, in
light of Plaintiff’s suggested clarifications and corrections, the Court declines to deny an
amendment as futile. The Court acknowledges the principle that “federal courts have a strong
preference for trials on the merits.” Clark v. Johnston, 413 F.App’x 804, 819 (6th Cir.2011).
Plaintiff is cautioned, nonetheless, that this will be his fourth Complaint against these
Defendants based upon the same factual foundation. Plaintiff must be mindful of his pleading
requirements as well as his ethical obligations.
Therefore, the Alternative Motion (ECF DKT #33) of Plaintiff, Hal Yaeger, for Leave
to Amend Complaint is granted. Plaintiff shall file his amended pleading on or before
September 18, 2017. In view of this ruling, the Motion (ECF DKT #22) of Defendant, Mark
A. Owenby, to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction (Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2)) and the
Motion (ECF DKT #23) of Defendants, Signal Lake Management LLC, Barton Stuck, Mark
Owenby, Signal Lake General Partner LLC, to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim Upon
Which Relief May Be Granted (Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)) are denied.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
s/ Christopher A. Boyko
CHRISTOPHER A. BOYKO
United States District Judge
Dated: August 28, 2017
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?