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Bullock v. American Security Programs, Inc.

United States District Court, District of Columbia

February 2, 2017



          JAMES E. BOASBERG United States District Judge.

         Pro se Plaintiff Michael Bullock alleged in his original Complaint that his employer, Defendant American Security Programs, Inc., had breached a settlement agreement with him and his union by failing to help him get a job as a security guard at one of its worksites. In a prior Memorandum Opinion, this Court held that such a breach-of-contract claim was preempted by federal labor law - specifically, the Labor Management Relations Act - but it permitted Bullock to proceed under § 301 of that statute. See Bullock v. Am. Security Program, Inc., 2016 WL 6459556 (D.D.C. Oct. 31, 2016). He now moves to amend his Complaint to add counts for invasion of privacy, negligent maintenance of personnel records, and wrongful discharge. As ASP correctly points out that none of these proposed claims passes muster, the Court will deny the Motion as futile.

         I. Background

         Since the prior Opinion lays out in detail the history of Bullock's employment dispute with ASP, only a brief recap is necessary here. ASP suspended his employment at a Federal Protective Service worksite because he lacked an active "suitability determination" or clearance. Id. at *1. After Plaintiff grieved that suspension with his Union -the United Government Security Officers of America International Union - ASP settled the matter by agreeing to assist him in finding work while his clearance was pending. Id. at *2. His pleadings implied that, at some subsequent point, he was terminated and never placed at any worksite. Id.

         Bullock thus filed this action; although his Complaint was very abbreviated, see ECF No. 1-1, he fleshed out the facts in opposing ASP's first motion to dismiss. See ECF No. 8. In denying that first motion, the Court initially determined that Plaintiffs cause of action for breach of contract was preempted by Section 301 of the LMRA. Bullock, 2016 WL 6459556, at*3. Concluding that Bullock had nonetheless stated a plausible right to relief under that provision, the Court allowed his suit go to forward, construing it as a § 301 claim. Id. at *4. After a scheduling conference took place, Bullock brought the instant Motion seeking to add three more counts to his Complaint. See ECF No. 19.

         The first two - invasion of privacy and negligent maintenance of personnel records -stem from the same additional facts. Plaintiff alleges that on July 25, 2013, Deshawn Thornton, the Chief Shop Steward for the Union, wrote to an ASP executive seeking records relating to Bullock. See Id. at 2 & Exh. 2. A week later, Thornton discovered that Plaintiffs "entire personnel file was left unattended and unsecured on a table located at an ASP worksite." Id., Exh. 3 (Affidavit of Deshawn Thornton). "The table is located in a very common area[, ] which is frequently used by other staff members. The table is also regularly used as a lunch table. Mr. Bullock's entire personnel file was noticed on this table during regular business hours." Id. There is no allegation that anyone actually looked at the contents.

         Plaintiffs third proposed addition is a count for wrongful termination. The facts he sets forth in support are not entirely pellucid. He alleges that the settlement agreement reached after his grievance "required specific training for anon-FPS site in Maryland[, ] which plaintiff interviewed for with Mr. Rick Lewis[, ] an ASP official. After plaintiff completed the training, the decision-making officials with ASP became shockingly unavailable. Leaving Plaintiff with no remedy." Mot. at 3. In addition, "ASP could not show proof that the necessary paperwork was forwarded to the government on behalf of plaintiff as they repeatedly claimed." Id. Bullock indicates that he was "eager to move forward on [a non-FPS] worksite, " but that ASP somehow "returned plaintiffs [necessary] handgun permit to the Maryland state police, " leading to its revocation. Id. at 4. Bullock alleges that he "has never received any notification as to the reason for his termination." Id.

         ASP opposes Bullock's proposed amendment on the ground that none of the three additional counts is hardy enough to survive a motion to dismiss.

         II. Legal Standard

         A plaintiff may amend his complaint once as a matter of course within 21 days of serving it or within 21 days of the filing of a responsive pleading. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1). Otherwise, he must seek consent from the defendant or leave from the Court. The latter "should [be] freely give[n] . . . when justice so requires." Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). In deciding whether to grant leave to file an amended complaint, courts may consider "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 amendment, etc." Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962). In this Circuit, "it is an abuse of discretion to deny leave to amend unless there is sufficient reason." Firestone v. Firestone, 76 F.3d 1205, 1208 (D.C. Cir. 1996). Furthermore, under Rule 15, "the non-movant generally carries the burden in persuading the court to deny leave to amend." Nwachukwu v. Karl, 222 F.R.D. 208, 211 (D.D.C. 2004).

         It is clear, however, that amendment should not be permitted if it would be futile. In other words, if the new causes of action would still be deficient notwithstanding the proposed amendment, courts need not grant leave. See In re Interbank Funding Corp. Securities Litigation, 629 F.3d 213, 218 (D.C. Cir. 2010) ("[A] district court may properly deny a motion to amend if the amended pleading would not survive a motion to dismiss.") (citing Foman, 371 U.S. at 182, for proposition that '"futility of amendment' is permissible justification for denying Rule 15(a) motion"); James Madison Ltd. v. Ludwig, 82 F.3d 1085, 1099 (D.C. Cir. 1996) ("Courts may deny a motion to amend a complaint as futile ... if the proposed claim would not survive a motion to dismiss.") (citations omitted).

         III. Analysis

         In opposing amendment here, ASP contends that each count is fatally infirm, but for different reasons. The Court thus considers each separately. As it ultimately denies Plaintiff s Motion, it need not also address Bullock's failure to comply with Local Civil Rule 15.1, which requires that a motion to amend "be accompanied by an original of the proposed pleading as amended."

         A. Invasi ...

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