Parker v. CSX Transporation, Inc.
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS MOTION TO STRIKE, GRANTING PLAINTIFFS MOTION TO AMEND, AND GRANTING DEFENDANTS MOTION FOR EXTENSION. Signed by Chief Judge S. Thomas Anderson on 6/30/17. (Anderson, S. Thomas)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE
CSX TRANSPORTATION, INC.,
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO STRIKE, GRANTING PLAINTIFF’S
MOTION TO AMEND, AND GRANTING DEFENDANT’S MOTION FOR EXTENSION
Before the Court is Defendant CSX Transportation, Inc.’s Motion to Strike (ECF No. 14)
and Plaintiff James Parker’s Motion for Leave to Amend (ECF No. 15), both filed on June 6,
2017. Defendant has responded in opposition to Plaintiff’s Motion, and the parties’ briefing is
Plaintiff initiated this action on April 17, 2017, alleging claims for injuries Plaintiff
allegedly sustained as a result of being struck by a train operated by Defendant. Plaintiff served
Defendant with the Complaint on April 24, 2017, and Defendant filed a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to
dismiss the initial Complaint on May 15, 2017. Plaintiff responded to the Rule 12(b)(6) motion
by filing a First Amended Complaint (ECF No. 11) on May 31, 2017. As a result of Plaintiff
amending his pleadings, the Court denied Defendant’s motion to dismiss as moot.
On June 5, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint (ECF No. 13).
Defendant’s Motion to Strike followed. Defendant argues that Plaintiff has already amended his
pleadings once as a matter of right by filing his First Amended Complaint. Rule 15 of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires that Plaintiff first seek leave of court or Defendant’s
consent before filing yet another amended pleading.
Plaintiff failed to do so.
explains by way of background that counsel for Defendant wrote a Rule 11 letter to counsel for
Plaintiff upon the filing of the First Amended Complaint and asserted that the First Amended
Complaint contained allegations which were inconsistent with the facts of the case. Plaintiff
responded by filing his Second Amended Complaint.
Plaintiff’s Second Amended Complaint.
Therefore, the Court should strike
Defendant further requests that the Court stay
Defendant’s deadline for filing a responsive pleading until the Court has ruled on the Motion to
Plaintiff has responded in opposition to the Motion to Strike and made his own Motion
for Leave to Amend. Plaintiff claims that counsel filed the Second Amended Complaint out of
an abundance of caution to avoid any violation of Rule 11. Plaintiff now seeks leave to file the
Second Amended Complaint and cites for support Rule 15’s liberal standard for amendments.
Defendant has filed a separate response in opposition to Plaintiff’s Motion to Amend. Defendant
argues that Plaintiff failed to take appropriate steps to cure the Rule 11 issues in the First
Amended Complaint. For example, Plaintiff could have filed a motion to amend prior to filing
the new pleading. Defendant asks the Court to reject Plaintiff’s request for retroactive leave to
Defendant further contends that Plaintiff’s First Amended Complaint pleaded facts to
avoid the issues raised in Defendant’s Rule 12(b)(6) motion and in doing so included some of the
misrepresentations identified by Defendant in its Rule 11 letter to Plaintiff. Plaintiff’s removal
of those misrepresentations in another amended pleading will only compel Defendant to file
another Rule 12(b)(6) addressed to the same defects. Defendant further argues that the Second
Amended Complaint is still subject to dismissal for the same reasons stated in Defendant’s
previous motion to dismiss.
Therefore, the Court should hold that Plaintiff’s proposed
amendment would be futile.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(2) provides that a party may amend its pleadings
only with the opposing party’s written consent or the court’s leave and “that leave to amend shall
be freely given when justice so requires.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a).
In 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 the amendment, etc. the leave
sought should, as the rules require, be “freely given.”
Leary v. Daeschner, 349 F.3d 888, 905 (6th Cir. 2003) (quoting Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178,
“[T]he thrust of Rule 15 is to reinforce the principle that cases should be tried on their merits
rather than the technicalities of pleadings.” Herhold v. Green Tree Servicing, LLC, 608 F.
App’x 328, 330-31 (6th Cir. 2015) (quoting Moore v. City of Paducah, 790 F.2d 557, 559 (6th
Cir. 1986)). The Sixth Circuit has remarked that “the case law in this Circuit manifests liberality
in allowing amendments to a complaint.” Newberry v. Silverman, 789 F.3d 636, 645 (6th Cir.
2015) (citations omitted). In the final analysis, Rule 15(a)(2) does “not displace the reasoned
discretion—the judgment—of district courts to say enough is enough.” Graves v. Mahoning
Cnty., 821 F.3d 772, 777 (6th Cir. 2016).
The Court will grant Plaintiff leave to amend his pleadings. As an initial matter, the
Court would stress that Plaintiff has not followed the proper procedure for amending pleadings.
Rule 15(a)(2) allows a party to amend its pleadings but only with leave of court or the consent of
the opposing party. Despite the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure’s “liberal amendment policy,”
Rule 15(a)(2) does not grant a plaintiff “unbridled authority to amend the complaint.” Springs v.
U.S. Dept. of Treasury, 567 F. App’x 438, 443 (6th Cir. 2014). In this case Plaintiff should have
promptly filed a motion to correct his pleadings as soon as Plaintiff became aware of the need to
amend them. Rather than taking this simple step, Plaintiff filed his Second Amended Complaint
without leave of the Court and without obtaining the Defendant’s consent. Plaintiff’s failure to
follow the correct procedure has resulted in Defendant’s Motion to Strike and Plaintiff’s latefiled motion for leave to amend.
Despite Plaintiff’s failure to comply with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Court
finds cause to allow the amended filing to stand. At this early stage of the case, the Court has not
yet entered a scheduling order and not established a deadline for amending the pleadings. Fed.
R. Civ. P. 16(b)(3)(A) (requiring a court to include a deadline for amending the pleadings in a
Rule 16(b) case management order). The Court also credits Plaintiff’s explanation that he filed
the Second Amended Complaint to avoid any potential violation of Rule 11. A plaintiff “is
impressed with a continuing responsibility to review and reevaluate his pleadings and where
appropriate modify them to conform to Rule 11.” Shirvell v. Gordon, 602 F. App’x 601, 605
(6th Cir. 2015) (quoting Runfola & Assocs., Inc. v. Spectrum Reporting II, Inc., 88 F.3d 368, 374
(6th Cir. 1996) (quoting Herron, 858 F.2d at 335). Rule 15’s liberal policy of permitting
amendments together with Plaintiff’s Rule 11 duties justifies the filing of the Second Amended
Defendant argues that the Court should deny leave to amend because Plaintiff’s
amendments have not cured the defects in his pleadings and the Second Amended Complaint
would otherwise be futile. Defendant does not actually develop the specifics of this argument
but refers back to its motion to dismiss the initial Complaint. The Court denied the motion to
dismiss without prejudice once Plaintiff filed his First Amended Complaint. As such, Plaintiff
has not actually briefed the issues in the motion to dismiss. Under the circumstances, the Court
prefers to address the legal merits of Plaintiff’s pleadings with the benefit of a fully briefed Rule
12 motion. For these reasons, Plaintiff’s Motion to Amend is GRANTED, and Defendant’s
Motion to Strike is DENIED. Defendant will have 14 days from the entry of this order in which
to file its responsive pleading.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
s/ S. Thomas Anderson
S. THOMAS ANDERSON
CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Date: June 30, 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?