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Lurie v. Mid-Atlantic Permanente Medical Group

December 15, 2008

DEAN KEVIN LURIE, M.D., PLAINTIFF,
v.
MID-ATLANTIC PERMANENTE MEDICAL GROUP, P.C. (MAPMG) D/B/A KAISER PERMANENTE ("KAISER"), ET AL. DEFENDANTS.



MEMORANDUM OPINION

I. INTRODUCTION

Now before the Court is plaintiff Lurie's motion [34] for leave to file an amended complaint. Upon consideration of the motion, the defendant Mid-Atlantic Permanente's opposition [35], the reply [37], applicable law, and the entire record herein, the plaintiff's motion will be DENIED.

II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On August 4, 2006, plaintiff filed his complaint. (Docket entry [1].) The defendant filed an answer and asserted a counterclaim on September 5, 2006. (Docket entry [2].) After several motions, the Court entered a scheduling order on September 26, 2007. (Docket entry [21].) Although some of the deadlines were modified by later orders, the deadline for moving for joinder of additional parties and amendment of pleadings was October 26, 2007, and neither party subsequently asked to extend that deadline until the present motion.*fn1 Discovery ended on October 8, 2008. (Minute Order, August 7, 2008.) After the close of discovery, more than two years after the defendant's answer, and more than a year after the Court's deadline for filing an amended complaint, the plaintiff filed the current motion, asking the Court to allow the plaintiff to file an amended complaint in which it alleges punitive damages. For the following reasons, the plaintiff's request will be denied.

III. ANALYSIS

A. Applicable Law

The plaintiff asserts that Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15 is applicable to the present motion, in which the Federal Rules state that "[t]he court should freely give leave [to amend a complaint] when justice so requires."*fn2 (Mot. 2.); Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2). The defendant, on the other hand, contends that the Court should apply the "good cause" standard of Rule 16*fn3 because the plaintiff is moving to amend the complaint well after the deadline set in the Court's scheduling order. (Def.'s Opp'n 2.)

Although the D.C. Circuit has apparently not decided whether the Rule 15 or Rule 16 standard applies to a motion for leave to amend a pleading after a scheduling order deadline has passed, the Court, in accordance with a previous decision of this Court, agrees with the defendant that the good cause standard of Rule 16 applies. Robinson v. Detroit News, Inc., 211 F. Supp. 2d 101, 114 (D.D.C. 2002) (Urbina, J.). The Fourth Circuit, in a recent opinion, noted the tension between Rule 15(a) and Rule 16(b) after the scheduling order deadline for amending pleadings has passed and concluded, in accordance with other circuits, that the good cause standard of Rule 16(b) applies:

Given their heavy case loads, district courts require the effective case management tools provided by Rule 16. Therefore, after the deadlines provided by a scheduling order have passed, the good cause standard must be satisfied to justify leave to amend the pleadings. This result is consistent with rulings of other circuits. See O'Connell v. Hyatt Hotels of Puerto Rico, 357 F.3d 152 (1st Cir. 2004); Enters. v. SouthTrust Bank of Ala., 315 F.3d 533, 536 (5th Cir. 2003);

Leary v. Daeschner, 349 F.3d 888, 906 (6th Cir. 2003); In re Milk Prods.

Antitrust Litig., 195 F.3d 430, 437--28 (8th Cir. 1999); Sosa v. Airprint Sys., Inc., 133 F.3d 1417, 1419 (11th Cir. 1998).

Nourison Rug Corp. v. Parvizian, 535 F.3d 295, 298 (4th Cir. 2008). To hold otherwise would allow Rule 16's standards to be "short circuited" by those of Rule 15 and would allow for parties to disregard scheduling orders, which would "undermine the court's ability to control its docket, disrupt the agreed-upon course of the litigation, and reward the indolent and the cavalier." Leary v. Daeschner, 349 F.3d 888, 906 (6th Cir. 2003) (citing Johnson v. Mammoth Recreations, Inc., 975 F.2d 604, 610 (9th Cir. 1992)). The First Circuit similarly explained its preference for the Rule 16(b) standard in this situation because "litigants cannot be permitted to treat a scheduling order as a frivolous piece of paper idly entered, which can be cavalierly disregarded without peril." O'Connell v. Hyatt Hotels of Puerto Rico, 357 F.3d at 155.

Accordingly, because the "good cause" standard applies, the Court's inquiry must focus on the reasons the plaintiff has given for his delay instead of the substance of the proposed amendment. See id. at 299 (refusing to address whether the amendment to the complaint would be "futile," because futility is a Rule15(a) consideration, not a Rule 16(b) consideration). As explained by one federal court, "Rule 16(b)'s good cause standard focuses on the timeliness of the amendment and the reasons ...


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