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Onyewuchi v. Gonzalez

March 17, 2010

MORRIS I. ONYEWUCHI, PLAINTIFF,
v.
EMILIO T. GONZALEZ DIRECTOR, U.S. CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ricardo M. Urbina United States District Judge

Re Document No.: 20

MEMORANDUM OPINION

DENYING THE PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO AMEND THE FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT AND REOPEN DISCOVERY;GRANTING THE DEFENDANT LEAVE TO SUPPLEMENT ITS DISPOSITIVE MOTION TO ADDRESS THE DISPARATE IMPACT CLAIMS RAISED IN THE FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

I. INTRODUCTION

This case comes before the court on the plaintiff's motion for leave to amend the first amended complaint and to reopen discovery. The pro se plaintiff, an African-American attorney and naturalized citizen originally from Nigeria, alleges that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS") discriminated against him based on his race and national origin when it did not select him for a position for which he had applied. Two months after the close of discovery, the plaintiff filed this motion for leave to amend his complaint to add a claim that USCIS's employment practices had a disparate impact on foreign-born and African-American applicants. The plaintiff also requests that the court reopen discovery. The defendant opposes the motion on the grounds that granting the requested relief at this stage of the proceedings would prejudice the defendant and that the proposed amendment would be futile.

Because the deadline for amending the pleadings has long since passed, and because the plaintiff was plainly aware of the information underlying his proposed amended claims well before filing this motion for leave to amend, the court denies his motion for leave to amend and his related request to reopen discovery. The court, however, notes that the current operative complaint sufficiently put the defendant on notice of the disparate impact claims the plaintiff sought to add through his proposed amended complaint. Accordingly, the court will grant the defendant an opportunity to supplement its pending dispositive motion to address those claims.

II. FACTUAL & PROCECURAL BACKGROUND*fn1

The plaintiff joined the Immigration and Naturalization Service ("INS") as an attorney in 2002. Proposed 2d Am. Compl. ¶ 3. In 2003, the INS was abolished, and its responsibilities transferred to two agencies within the Department of Homeland Security: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("USICE") and USCIS. Id. ¶¶ 3-4. The plaintiff was assigned to USICE in 2003. Id. ¶ 5.

On May 6, 2004, USICS announced a vacancy for an Associate Counsel position in its Dallas, Texas office, for which the plaintiff immediately applied. Id. ¶¶ 7-9. Approximately two weeks later, Judith Patterson and Catherine Muhletaler, the two recommending officials for the position, interviewed the plaintiff via telephone. Id. ¶¶ 10-12, 23. On June 10, 2004, Patterson e-mailed the plaintiff to notify him that he had not been selected for the position. Id. ¶ 13. Patterson stated that familiarity with the Dallas area and academic credentials were among the selection criteria used to assess candidates, but did not inform the plaintiff specifically why he had not been chosen. Id. ¶¶ 14, 20, 32.

On October 20, 2004, the plaintiff filed an Equal Employment Opportunity ("EEO") complaint with the USCIS, alleging that it had discriminated against him on the basis of race, disability*fn2 and national origin by not selecting him for the Associate Counsel position. See generally Def.'s Opp'n to Pl.'s 2d Mot. to Amend ("Def.'s Opp'n"), Ex. 4. After USCIS denied the plaintiff's claim on May 11, 2006, the plaintiff appealed. Proposed 2d Am. Compl. ¶ 40. On December 4, 2007, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") denied the appeal and notified the plaintiff of his right to sue. Id.

The plaintiff filed a complaint in this court on February 29, 2008. See generally Compl. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a), the plaintiff amended his complaint as a matter of right on March 7, 2008. See generally 1st Am. Compl. At a status hearing held on September 9, 2008, the court ordered that the parties submit any motions to further amend the pleadings by October 8, 2008. See Minute Entry (Sept. 9, 2008). Additionally, the court set a discovery deadline of January 7, 2009, which was subsequently extended to January 21, 2009. See id.; Minute Order (Jan. 4, 2009).

Prior to the close of discovery, a dispute arose concerning whether the defendant was required to produce documents concerning all of the approximately 120 applicants who had applied for the position. Def.'s Opp'n at 5. Ultimately, the court ordered the defendant to produce these documents, which were provided to the plaintiff on February 25, 2009. Id. at 6.

On March 6, 2009, the plaintiff filed this motion requesting leave to amend his first amended complaint. See generally Pl.'s 1st Mot. to Amend. The court denied the motion for failure to comply with Local Civil Rule 15.1, see Minute Order (Mar. 6, 2009), which provides that motions to amend or correct pleadings "shall be accompanied by an original of the proposed pleading as amended," LCvR 15.1. One week later -- a week before dispositive motions were due and nearly eight weeks after discovery had closed -- the plaintiff filed a second motion for leave to amend the first amended complaint, see Pl.'s 2d Mot. to Amend ("Pl.'s Mot."), which the defendant opposed, see generally Def.'s Opp'n.*fn3

Through this motion for leave to amend, the plaintiff seeks to add claims of disparate impact to the disparate treatment claims asserted in the first amended complaint. See generally Pl.'s Mot. Specifically, the plaintiff seeks to add a claim that requiring applicants to have familiarity with the Dallas area had a discriminatory adverse impact on foreign-born applicants. Proposed 2d Am. Compl. ΒΆ 85. The plaintiff also seeks to add a claim that the defendant's use of the U.S. News and World Report law school rankings as a criterion in determining applicants' academic credentials had a disparate impact on graduates of historically black law schools, such as the ...


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