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Revell v. Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY


August 24, 2007

GREGG C. REVELL, ET AL., PLAINTIFF,
v.
PORT AUTHORITY OF NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY, ET AL., DEFENDANT.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Patty Shwartz United States Magistrate Judge

OPINION & ORDER

This matter having come before the Court by way of motion of the plaintiff, filed on August 2, 2007, for leave to file an amended Complaint to name Lieutenant William Burns as a defendant;*fn1 and the Court having considered the parties submissions and arguments;*fn2 and the Court having decided this motion pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 78; and L. Civ. R. 7.1(f) stating that "[u]pon filing of a motion for leave to file an amended complaint . . .the moving party shall attach to the motion a copy of the proposed pleading or amendments and retain the original until the Court has ruled;" and the plaintiff having failed to attach a copy of the proposed amended complaint; and the Court therefore finding that the plaintiff's motion is procedural deficient and should be denied under L. Civ. R. 7.1(f); see also In Re Merck & Co. Inc., No. 06-2911, 2007 WL 2049017, * 9 n.2 (3d Cir. July 18, 2007)(citing Lake v. Arnold, 232 F.3d 360, 374 (3d Cir. 2000) for the proposition that a court may refuse to grant leave to file an amended pleading when the movant fails to provide a copy of the proposed pleading); and the Court further finding that the motion should be denied on substantive grounds; and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 20(a), which governs the joinder of parties, providing that:

[a]ll persons . . . may be joined in one action as defendants if there is asserted against them jointly, severally, or in the alternative, any right to relief in respect of or arising out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences and if any question of law or fact common to all defendants will arise in the action; and thus joinder pursuant to Rule 20(a) requiring both that "(1) a right to relief must be asserted against the parties which is predicated upon or arises out of a single transaction or occurrence or series of transactions and occurrences, and (2) there must exist some question of law or fact common to all parties which will arise in the action," N. J. Mach. Inc. v. Alford Indus., Inc., 1991 WL 340196, *1 (D.N.J. 1991) (emphasis in original); see also Morris v. Paul Revere Ins. Group, 986 F.Supp. 872, 885-886 (D.N.J. 1997) (denying plaintiff's motion to join defendant accountants because their actions, although potentially constituting malpractice, had "no bearing on the principal issues in [that] case and consequently fail[ed] to implicate any common questions of law or fact"); Mesa Computer Utilities, Inc. v. Western Union, 67 F.R.D. 634, 637 (D. Del. 1975) (holding that franchise agreements negotiated and executed at different times and locations and with different plaintiffs satisfied both tests even though "[i]t [was] apparent . . . that the legal and factual issues to be determined [would] differ in some respects from one plaintiff to the next" because defendants' "acts of misrepresentation and conspiracy which directly affected all plaintiffs . . . may constitute a single transaction or occurrence for purposes of Rule 20(a)" and because "there [was] . . . [at least] one question of law or fact common to the parties"); and a transaction being defined as "a word of flexible meaning [that may] comprehend a series of many occurrences, depending not so much on the immediateness of their connection as upon their logical relationship," id. (quoting Mosley v. General Motors Corp., 497 F.2d 1330, 1333 (8th Cir. 1974)); and there being no question that the proposed claims against Lieutenant Burns are predicated upon the same transaction or occurrence or series of transactions and occurrences as the originally named defendants and that there are questions of law or fact common to all parties because the claims against Lieutenant Burns arise out of the same arrest; and Rule 20 also requiring that courts consider "other relevant factors in a case in order to determine whether the permissive joinder of a party will comport with the principles of fundamental fairness," even when the two-part test is satisfied, such as the possible prejudice that may result to any of the parties in the litigation, the delay of the moving party in seeking an amendment to his pleadings, the motive that the moving party has in seeking such amendment, the closeness of the relationship between the new and the old parties, the effect of an amendment on the court's jurisdiction, and the new party's notice of the pending action, Desert Empire Bank v. Insurance Co. of North America, 623 F.2d 1371, 1375 (9th Cir. 1980); and courts interpreting Rule 20 liberally to "achieve the rule's goals of promot[ing] judicial economy and efficiency," Snodgrass v. Ford Motor Co., 2002 WL 485688, at *2 (D.N.J. 2002); see also Miller v. Hygrade Food Prod. Corp., 202 F.R.D. 142, 144 (E.D. Pa. 2001) (stating that "the impulse is towards entertaining the broadest possible scope of action consistent with fairness to the parties; joinder of claims, parties and remedies is strongly encouraged") (internal citation and quotation marks omitted); and motions to join parties under Rule 20 falling squarely within the discretion of the court, which must determine whether the proposed joinder comports with the "principles of fundamental fairness," N.J. Mach. Inc., 1991 WL 340196 at *1; and the Court finding that the possible prejudice that may result to any of the defendants and the plaintiff's delay in seeking an amendment to his pleadings militate against permitting the plaintiff to file the amended pleading to add Lieutenant Burns under Rule 20;*fn3 and the Court therefore finding that the plaintiff's motion should be denied under Rule 20; and the Court further finding that the motion should also be denied under Rule 15; and Rule 15(a) providing:

[a] party may amend the party's pleading once as a matter of course at any time before a responsive pleading is served . . . .

Otherwise a party may amend the party's pleading only by leave of court or by written consent of the adverse party; and leave shall be freely given when justice so requires, Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a); and the federal rules allowing for liberal amendments in light of the "principle that the purpose of pleading is to facilitate a proper decision on the merits," and providing that if the underlying facts relied upon by a party might be a proper subject of relief, that party should have the opportunity to test its claims on the merits, Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962) (citations and internal quotations omitted); and, under Rule 15, the decision to amend resting within the sound discretion of the Court; see id.; Heyl & Paterson Int'l Inc. v. F.D. Rich Hous. of Virgin Islands, Inc., 663 F.2d 419, 425 (3d Cir. 1981); and the United States Supreme Court having stated that leave to amend under Rule 15 may be denied in cases of: (1) undue delay; (2) bad faith or dilatory motive; (3) undue prejudice; or (4) futility of amendment, see Foman, 371 U.S. at 182; see also Arthur v. Maersk, Inc., 434 F.3d 196, 204-05 (3d Cir. 2006)(stating that "leave to amend must generally be granted unless equitable considerations render it otherwise unjust" and noting that although there is no "presumptive period in which a motion for leave to amend is deemed 'timely' or in which delay becomes 'undue,'" a delay of eleven months is not presumptively unreasonable); see also Long v. Wilson, 393 F.3d 390, 400 (3d Cir. 2004) (stating "absent undue or substantial prejudice, an amendment should be allowed under Rule 15(a) unless denial can be grounded in bad faith or dilatory motive, truly undue or unexplained delay, repeated failure to cure deficiency by amendments previously allowed or futility of amendment") (citations and internal quotation marks omitted); Alvin v. Suzuki, 227 F.3d 107, 121 (3d Cir. 2000) (summarizing factors to consider under Rule 15); and the defendants' argument that the proposed claims against Lieutenant Burns are barred by the statute of limitations because the discovery rule does not apply being akin to an argument that the proposed claim is futile; and the law providing that an amendment will be considered futile if it "is frivolous or advances a claim or defense that is legally insufficient on its face," Harrison Beverage Co. v. Dribeck Imps., Inc., 133 F.R.D. 463, 468 (D.N.J. 1990) (citations and quotations omitted); and in determining whether an amendment is "insufficient on its face," courts employ the Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss standard, In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1434-35 (3d Cir. 1997) (citations omitted); and a motion to dismiss being granted under Rule 12(b)(6) if the plaintiff is unable to articulate "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face," Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, __ U.S.__, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974 (2007); see also id. at 1968-69 ("retiring" the rule first articulated in Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957) that "a complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief"); Rodriguez v. Fajardo, Civ.No. 06-4996, 2007 WL 1959254, *4 (D.N.J. July 3, 2007); Charles v. Lawyers Title Ins. Corp., Civ. No. 06-2361, 2007 WL 1959253, *2 (D.N.J. July 3, 2007); and while detailed factual allegations being unnecessary to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, "a pleader's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than labels[,] conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action" and requiring that the "[f]actual allegations . . . be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level . . . on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint [or pleading] are true (even if doubtful in fact)," Twombly, 127 S.Ct. at 1965; see Gross v. The German Foundation Industrial Initiative, Civ. No. 02-2936, 2007 WL 2326861, * 71 (D.N.J. August 15, 2002); Motino v. Toys "R" Us, Inc., Civ. No. 06-370, 2007 WL 2123698, * 1-2 (D.N.J. July 19, 2007); Roznowski v. S. Plainfield Police Dept., Civ. A. No. 06-2009 (DMC), 2007 WL 2027925, *2 (D.N.J. July 9, 2007); and when examining the sufficiency of a litigant's pleading under Rule 12(b)(6), courts consider the proposed pleading and view the allegations set forth therein as true and in the light most favorable to the party asserting them, see Lum v. Bank of Am., 361 F.3d 217, 223 (3d Cir. 2004) (citations omitted); and the Court finding that as the discovery rule does not apply in this case, the claim against Lieutenant Burns is barred by the applicable statute of limitation, and therefore, the proposed claim against him is futile;*fn4 and with regard to undue delay and bad faith, the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit stating [t]he passage of time, without more, does not require that a motion to amend a complaint be denied; however, at some point, the delay will become "undue," placing an unwarranted burden on the court, or will become "prejudicial," placing an unfair burden on the opposing party. The question of undue delay, as well as the question of bad faith, requires that we focus on the [movant's] motives for not amending their [pleading] to assert this claim earlier; the issue of prejudice requires that we focus on the effect on the [adverse party], Adams v. Gould, Inc., 739 F.2d 858, 868 (3d Cir.1984) (internal citations omitted); see also Cureton v. NCAA, 252 F.3d 267, 273 (3d Cir. 2001) (stating that "the question of undue delay requires that we focus on the movant's reasons for not amending sooner" and the issue of prejudice focuses on hardship to the non-movant if the amendment is permitted); Lindquist v. Buckingham Township, Civ. Nos. 03-2431, 03-2971, 2004 WL 1598735, *6 (3d Cir. July 19, 2004) (unpublished) (affirming denial of leave to amend complaint to include equal protection claim in light of finding that the documents that the amending party alleged were withheld, and which gave rise to amended claim, were public and delay was, therefore, inexcusable); and the Court finding that even if the proposed claims were not futile, the plaintiff has unduly delayed seeking to assert the proposed claims and to permit the plaintiff to file the claims would prejudice the defendants;*fn5 and the Court therefore finding that the plaintiff's motion should be denied under Rule 15; and for all the reasons set forth herein; and for good cause shown, IT IS on this 24th day of August, 2007

ORDERED that the plaintiff's motion for leave to file an Amended Complaint to name Lieutenant Burns as a defendant [Docket Entry No. 52] is denied.


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