J.H., by next friend Betty Harris v. Williamson County et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION OF THE COURT & ORDER. Signed by District Judge Aleta A. Trauger on 3/23/17. (DOCKET TEXT SUMMARY ONLY-ATTORNEYS MUST OPEN THE PDF AND READ THE ORDER.)(am)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE
J.H., by next friend BETTY HARRIS
TENNESSEE, et al.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Pending before the court is Plaintiff’s Motion to Review Denial of Motion to Amend
Complaint (Docket No. 153). Defendants have filed Responses (Docket Nos. 164 and 166), and
Plaintiff has filed a Reply (Docket No. 172-1). Plaintiff seeks review of the Magistrate Judge’s Order
(Docket No. 143), which denied Plaintiff’s Motion to Amend Complaint and Motion for Relief from
the Scheduling Order (Docket No. 109).
Pursuant to Rule 72(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the court may reverse or
modify the ruling of the Magistrate Judge only if it is clearly erroneous or contrary to law.1 For the
reasons set forth below, the court finds that the ruling of the Magistrate Judge is neither clearly
erroneous nor contrary to law, and the Order of the Magistrate Judge is AFFIRMED.
This action alleges civil rights violations by Defendants against J.H., a minor who was
incarcerated in the Williamson County Juvenile Detention Center at various times from May 2013
until December 2013. Pursuant to the Initial Case Management Order, the deadline for filing any
Plaintiff argues that the pending motion is dispositive and the Magistrate Judge’s
Order is, therefore, subject to de novo review. But the court must, by necessity, determine the
motion for relief from a scheduling order first, and that motion is not dispositive.
motions to amend the pleadings was June 3, 2016. Docket No. 31. This deadline was agreed upon
and proposed by the parties in their proposed Joint Initial Case Management Order. Docket No. 25.
Plaintiff did not seek relief from the deadline for filing amendments at any time prior to the
June 3, 2016 deadline. At a September 23, 2016 case management conference, Plaintiff’s counsel
advised the Magistrate Judge that she wished to file a motion to amend the Complaint. The court
gave Plaintiff a deadline of December 19, 2016, to file a motion for an extension of the amendment
deadline. Docket No. 79. An opinion on the merits of any request by Plaintiff for relief from the
amendment deadline was expressly reserved. Id.
On December 19, 2016, more than six months after the amendment deadline, Plaintiff filed
a Motion to Amend the Complaint and for Relief from the Scheduling Order. Docket No. 109.
Plaintiff’s proposed Amended Complaint is 106 pages long and, among other things, names twelve
additional Defendants. 2
The court must first determine whether Plaintiff’s request for relief from the scheduling order
has merit, for if it does not, then the proposed amended complaint is untimely filed. Under the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, once a scheduling order is entered, it “may be modified only for
good cause and with the judge’s consent.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 16(b)(4). Even though motions for leave
to amend are normally “freely given,” a different standard applies when the proposed amendment
is so late that it would require modification of the Rule 16 scheduling order. Stewart v. King, 2011
WL 237678 at * 4 (M.D. Tenn. Jan. 24, 2011) (citing Korn v. Paul Revere Life Ins. Co., 382 Fed.
App’x. 443, 449 (6th Cir. 2010)).
The Magistrate Judge correctly noted that the filing of this Amended Complaint,
adding twelve new Defendants and totaling 106 pages, would be prejudicial to Defendants.
Good cause is measured by the movant’s diligence in attempting to meet the case
management order’s requirements. Stewart at * 5. That is, the Plaintiff must show that despite his
diligence, he could not meet the original deadline. Id.
Plaintiff makes numerous arguments as to why he could not have filed his Motion to Amend
and proposed Amended Complaint by the June 3, 2016 deadline. Plaintiff is focused on the wrong
question, however.3 The issue is whether Plaintiff had good cause for failing to request that the
scheduling order deadline be extended. Even if Plaintiff was not completely “ready” to file his
proposed Amended Complaint, he could easily have sought relief from the June 3, 2016 deadline
before that deadline passed. Certainly he could have sought relief from that deadline before six
months had passed. Plaintiff’s Motion states that “Plaintiff did not have sufficient time to obtain
information needed for an amended complaint.” Docket No. 153. So, Plaintiff should have asked for
more time, but he did not.
Plaintiff has failed to show that despite his diligence, he could not meet the June 3, 2016
deadline. In other words, Plaintiff has failed to carry his burden of showing good cause for extending
the scheduling order deadline. The decision of the Magistrate Judge is neither clearly erroneous nor
contrary to law, and that decision is affirmed.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
ALETA A. TRAUGER
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
For example, Plaintiff’s arguments about the delays in discovery are relevant to
why he needed additional time to file an Amended Complaint, but they are not excuses for failing
to file a timely request to amend the scheduling order.
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