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Richardson v. Yellen

United States District Court, District of Columbia

January 26, 2018



          ROSEMARY M. COLLYER United States District Judge

         Edward Richardson has filed suit pro se against his former employer for a variety of constitutional torts, common-law torts, and statutory violations that he alleges occurred during his employment. Having previously amended his original complaint once, Mr. Richardson now moves to amend his complaint again, although the Court's deadline to do so has long passed. Mr. Richardson argues that he should be permitted to amend his complaint because he has learned new information that supports new claims, while Defendants argue that Mr. Richardson has not shown good cause to amend, as required by Rule 16 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Because Mr. Richardson has established neither that he acted diligently to amend his complaint nor that the proposed amendment would not prejudice Defendants, the Court finds that Mr. Richardson has not shown good cause. Accordingly, the Court will deny Mr. Richardson's motion without prejudice.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Because the question at bar is limited to whether Mr. Richardson may again amend his complaint, only a summary of the facts relevant to the motion to amend, and not a summary of the entire case, is necessary here. Mr. Richardson, a pro se plaintiff, complains that his former employer, the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, and its chair, Janet Yellen (Defendant or the Board) committed against him a variety of torts and statutory violations while Mr. Richardson was employed as a law enforcement officer with the Board.

         On June 4, 2010, the Board sent Mr. Richardson a letter informing him of his termination and detailing the reasons, which included “misconduct or negligence in prior employment.” Letter to Edward Richardson [Dkt. 60-1]. The letter provided a brief description of the conduct alleged, which according to the letter was brought to light during a background investigation upon which Mr. Richardson's employment was conditioned. Id.

         Mr. Richardson filed his initial complaint in this action on October 8, 2014, and subsequently amended his complaint pursuant to Rule 15 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on March 20, 2015. See Compl. [Dkt. 1]; Am. Compl. [Dkt. 8]. As the litigation progressed, this Court issued a scheduling order on June 30, 2016 providing, among other deadlines, that “Plaintiff may amend its pleadings no later than July 15, 2016.” Scheduling Order [Dkt. 48]. The Court also directed that “[t]his schedule shall not be modified, even where all parties consent, except upon motion demonstrating good cause and an order from the Court.” Id. (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b); LCvR 16.4 (governing the Court's issuance of scheduling orders)).

         The parties progressed to discovery, with an initial deadline of October 28, 2016. See Scheduling Order at 2. Discovery was extended twice, see 11/2/2016 Order [Dkt. 63]; 11/15/2016 Minute Order; and 3/30/2017 Order [Dkt. 105]. Discovery concluded on May 5, 2017. See 5/8/2017 Joint Status Report [Dkt. 110].

         According to Mr. Richardson, at some point during discovery he obtained new information about three other employees: Shandra Love, Darren Harris, and Rocco Christoff.

         Specifically, Mr. Richardson now asserts that he obtained new information establishing that these three former coworkers had all “possessed unfavorable employment backgrounds prior to employment with the Board, ” about which they allegedly lied to the Board. Pl.'s Mot. Leave Am. Compl. [Dkt. 107] at 2 (Mot.); Pl.'s Reply Support Mot. Leave Am. Compl. [Dkt. 116] at 2 (Reply). Messrs. Harris and Christoff are white, Ms. Love is a woman, and Mr. Richardson is an African-American man. See Ex. A, Mot. [Dkt. 107-1] at ¶¶ 180-81. Mr. Richardson contends that he did not learn of this information until “[d]uring the discovery period, ” Mot. at 2, when he says he was able to review documents including background questionnaires that brought to light “disciplinary actions in employment prior to [the three other employees'] employment with the Board.” Reply at 2. Mr. Richardson does not provide the date or dates on which he received the background questionnaires.

         However, on November 22, 2016, Mr. Richardson filed a Notice of Subpoena, in which he discussed various details from Mr. Christoff's and Ms. Love's employment histories (such as disciplinary actions), as well as Mr. Harris's “prior arrest record.” Motion to Subpoena [Dkt. 69] at 1-2, 3 (Notice of Subpoena). The Board claims that Mr. Richardson obtained this information from “public documents and other information not obtained from the Board.” Opp'n Pl.'s Mot. Leave Am. Compl. [Dkt. 111] at 3 (Opp'n).

         On May 3, 2017, Mr. Richardson moved to amend his First Amended Complaint pursuant to Rule 15(a)(2). See Mot.; see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2) (providing that “[t]he court should freely give leave” to amend a complaint other than as a matter of course “when justice so requires”). Defendants opposed, arguing that Rule 16(b), which requires “good cause” to amend if a scheduling order deadline has passed, governs instead. See Opp'n. Mr. Richardson replied. See Reply. The motion is ripe for review.


         Rule 15(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that “[t]he court should freely give leave” to amend a complaint other than as a matter of course “when justice so requires.” Under this standard, a court may deny a motion to amend if it finds “undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on the part of the movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, [or] undue prejudice to the opposing party.” Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962).

         However, as this Court has noted before, when a plaintiff “seeks leave to amend which deviates from a court-ordered deadline, the more stringent good cause standard imposed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16(b) applies.” In re Papst Licensing GmbH & Co. KG Litig., 762 F.Supp.2d 56, 59 (2011); see also Lurie v. Mid-Atl. Permanente Med. Grp., P.C., 589 F.Supp.2d 21, 23 (D.D.C. 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.'”) (quoting Leary v. Daeschner, 349 F.3d 888, 906 (6th Cir. 2003)). Under Rule 16(b), a court may enter a scheduling order that limits the time to amend the pleadings ...

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