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Hudson v. American Federation of Government Employees

United States District Court, District of Columbia

August 2, 2019

EUGENE HUDSON, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          JAMES E. BOASBERG, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         The law does not reward those who sleep on their rights. Demonstrating why this maxim of equity exists, Plaintiff Eugene Hudson requests to add a bevy of claims to his Complaint nearly two years after he asserted almost identical counts in another case - most of which were soon dismissed - and months after he promised this Court and Defendant that he would not take the route upon which he now embarks. This slumber does not paint Plaintiff's newfound interest in reviving his claims in a flattering light. If mere annoyance were the only resulting harm, however, perhaps his lag could be excused. Unfortunately, the intervening period saw the death of a witness central to the newly added claims. And although Hudson attempts to climb out of this hole by constructing an explanation for his delay, he only digs himself deeper. A glance at the record reveals that the factual representations underlying his excuse fall far short of the veracity and candor the Court expects of those appearing before it. As a result, Hudson's delay and accompanying conduct, coupled with prejudice to the defense, have put to bed any chance of now expanding his Complaint. The Court will, accordingly, deny the Motion.

         I. Background

         Over the last couple of the years, this Court has published a veritable tome of Opinions detailing Hudson's quarrel with Defendant American Federation of Government Employees. See, e.g., Hudson v. AFGE, 318 F.Supp.3d 7, 9-10 (D.D.C. 2018); Hudson v. AFGE, 308 F.Supp.3d 388, 391 (D.D.C. 2018); Hudson v. AFGE, 308 F.Supp.3d 121, 123-26 (D.D.C. 2018); Hudson v. AFGE, 281 F.Supp.3d 11, 12-13 (D.D.C. 2017); Hudson v. AFGE, 2017 WL 4325681, at *1 (D.D.C. Sept. 27, 2017). It has added to this volume as recently as this month. See Hudson v. AFGE, 2019 WL 3068295, at *1-2 (D.D.C. July 12, 2019). Some aspects of the procedural histories of Plaintiff s multiple cases nevertheless bear repeating here.

         A long-time AFGE official, Hudson rose up through the ranks to become National-Secretary Treasurer in 2012, winning reelection to another three-year term in 2015. See Hudson, 318 F.Supp.3d at 9. Within AFGE - a national labor organization with over 1000 affiliated local unions - the position of NST lies near the top. The occupant is one of three full-time national officers serving on the union's governing body, along with the National President and National Vice-President for Women and Fair Practices. Id. Like many rises, however, Hudson's was also followed by a fall. Following an internal charge that he had run afoul of the AFGE constitution via improper campaign activities, the union launched an investigation that resulted in Plaintiffs removal from office in August 2017. See Hudson, 308 F.Supp.3d at 124-25. Understandably unhappy with this turn of events, Hudson turned to the courts.

         In so doing, he took a bifurcated approach. First, on September 12, 2017, he filed this suit asserting that his termination violated rights and protections afforded by two labor-law statutes. See ECF No. 1 (Compl.), ¶¶ 56-98. This case has since gone through a slew of twists and turns both in and out of the courtroom, the contours of which need not be rehearsed. See, e.g., Hudson, 2019 WL 3068295, at *1-2; Hudson, 308 F.Supp.3d at 123-26. More relevant is that Hudson filed an Amended Complaint on February 13, 2018, which is currently the operative pleading. He now seeks to amend this Complaint again in the present Motion.

         Less than a month after logging his first suit, Hudson registered another. In this alternate attempt to regain his prior position, he again sued AFGE, this time alleging that his tenure as NST was infected with race discrimination. See Hudson, 308 F.Supp.3d at 392. Hudson's grievance took the form of a four-count Complaint, submitted on October 10, 2017, alleging employment discrimination, retaliation, a hostile work environment, and “pretextual discrimination.” Id. The conduct at issue, he asserted, began in 2012 and culminated with his termination in 2017. Id. at 391-92. (Since the interaction of these two cases is pivotal to the Motion at hand, the Court, for clarity, will refer to the first (No. 17-1867) as Hudson's “labor-law suit” and the second (No. 17-2094) as his “race-discrimination suit.”)

         Faced with two cases concerning the same termination, AFGE moved to dismiss Hudson's later-filed Complaint. In an Opinion issued on April 10, 2018, the Court agreed that much of his race-discrimination case could not proceed. It found first that Hudson had not set forth the type of severe or pervasive conduct necessary to sustain his hostile-work-environment claim under Title VII. Id. at 395-96. Further, it noted that almost all the alleged conduct supporting the other three counts rested on Plaintiffs termination. This commonality with his labor-law suit created a problem. The doctrine of claim-splitting bars a later-filed complaint if, assuming the earlier filed suit were already final, the later complaint would be precluded by res judicata. Id. at 394. The Court thus dismissed his remaining claims on this ground, except for the portion of his discrimination count that did “not relate to Plaintiffs termination, ” which could proceed to discovery. Id. at 395.

         One detail here is worth noting. In his opposition to AFGE's motion to dismiss, Plaintiff appeared to request permission to amend his labor-law suit to include the race-discrimination counts at issue as a means of avoiding Defendant's claim-splitting challenge. The Court denied this request without prejudice on April 10, 2018, noting that Hudson had not followed the appropriate rules. “[I]f he wishes to amend the [labor-law] complaint, ” the Court admonished, “he must seek leave to do so in that case, not here.” Id.

         Plaintiff, however, did not take up this invitation, instead proceeding to discovery on only the claims he already pled here. In the Rule 26(f) Report filed on July 31, 2018, Hudson stated that he did not “currently anticipate[] any need . . . to amend any pleadings.” ECF No. 54 at 2. Given this representation, AFGE did not propose, and the Court did not provide, any deadline for seeking amendment. Id.; see also ECF No. 78 (Def Opp.) at 7.

         This spring, Plaintiff reversed course. Following a series of procedural errors, he filed the operative Motion for Leave to Amend his (already-once-amended) Complaint on May 8, 2019. The Court will discuss the details of his proposed new Complaint below. Suffice it to say for now, though, that it is primarily a smorgasbord of his labor-law and race-discrimination counts, including the dismissed counts. For those keeping track, this request to add new counts comes nearly a decade after the earliest conduct at issue, a little under two years since his termination, 17 months after he filed nearly identical counts in this Court, over a year after this Court dismissed many of those counts, and eight months after he told the Court and Defendant that he would not seek to amend. Adding to this list, AFGE notes in its Opposition that his Motion also comes several months after a key player in his termination passed away. See Def. Opp. at 4. To justify his delay, Hudson asserts that his added counts rest “on newly discovered evidence.” See ECF No. 76 (Pl. Mot.) at 1.

         II. Legal Standard

         A plaintiff may amend her complaint once as a matter of course within 21 days of serving it or within 21 days of being served a responsive pleading. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1)(B). Otherwise, she must seek consent from the defendant or leave from the court. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2). “The court should freely give leave when justice so requires.” Id. In deciding whether to grant leave to file an amended complaint, the court 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, [or] futility of amendment.” 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. ...


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