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Brown v. District of Columbia

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA


April 28, 2010

DANNY BROWN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Reggie B. Walton United States District Judge

ORDER

Upon the removal of this case from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, the defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss and/or for a More Definite Statement pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8(a) and 12(e), based on the plaintiff's alleged failure to file "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." The plaintiff filed a statement opposing the defendants' removal of the case, but did not address the defendants' motion. In response, the defendants filed an opposition to the plaintiff's statement on the issue of whether removal of the case was proper. See Defendants' Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Opposition to Plaintiff's "Opposition" to Defendants' Notice of Removal. The plaintiff then replied to the defendants' opposition, again arguing that removal was improper,*fn1 but again failing to oppose the substance of the defendants' motion to dismiss or for a more definite statement. See Plaintiff's Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Response to Defendants' Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion to Remand.*fn2

Several months later, the plaintiff filed a motion seeking to amend his complaint.*fn3 See generally Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Amend Complaint. The defendants oppose this motion on the grounds that it was untimely filed; late amendments of pleadings are discouraged; their motion to dismiss should have been granted as conceded; the delay in filing the motion was unreasonable, unexcused, and prejudicial to the defendants; and the plaintiff has not offered a satisfactory explanation for needing to untimely amend the complaint.*fn4 Defendants' Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion to Amend/Correct Complaint at 2-4.

The plaintiff represents that the timing of his request for the amendment will not prejudice the defendants, Memorandum in Support of Plaintiffs' [sic] Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint at 3, and the Court agrees. While the defendants are correct that the motion to amend has been untimely filed, their motion to dismiss essentially takes the position that a more definite statement is warranted. Also, this case is still as its early stages, and when the Court did not sua sponte grant their motion as conceded after the time for filling an opposition had passed, the defendants did not affirmatively seek to have the Court act on their motion. Moreover, courts are obliged to resolve cases on their merits instead of on technicalities. Schiavone v. Fortune, 477 U.S. 21, 27 (1986) (reiterating the general principle that "decisions on the merits are not to be avoided on the basis of 'mere technicalities.'" (quoting Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 181 (1962))). Given this factual and legal background, the Court cannot find that the defendants are substantially prejudiced by permitting the plaintiff to file his amended complaint, warranting the resolution of this case on factors other than the merits. The Court therefore exercises its discretion to allow the plaintiff to amend his complaint, which comports with its obligation to "freely give leave [to amend pleadings] when justice so requires." Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2); see Forman, 371 U.S. at 182 (indicating the preference for courts to provide a plaintiff with "an opportunity to test his claim on the merits" in the absence of several equitable factors). Accordingly, it is hereby

ORDERED that the defendants' Motion to Dismiss and/or for a More Definite Statement is DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE; it is further

ORDERED that the Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Amend Complaint is GRANTED and the proposed amended complaint attached to the plaintiff's motion is deemed filed.

SO ORDERED this 28th day of April, 2010.


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