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Wanda Manley, Honorable Joseph E. Irenas v. Memorial Hospital of Salem

April 10, 2012

WANDA MANLEY, HONORABLE JOSEPH E. IRENAS PLAINTIFF,
v.
MEMORIAL HOSPITAL OF SALEM,
DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Irenas , Senior District Judge:

OPINION

This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for extending the time to file an amended complaint. (Dkt. No. 14) For the following reasons, Plaintiff's Motion will be granted.

I.

Plaintiff, a former African American employee at Memorial Hospital of Salem, alleges that she suffered racial discrimination on at least a weekly basis from her co-workers and managers. (Proposed Am. Compl. ¶ 7) She further alleges that the discrimination became overbearing and she was forced to quit. ( Id. at ¶ 8)

On April 13, 2011, Plaintiff filed her initial Complaint asserting claims for racial discrimination under Title VII, and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination ("LAD"), N.J.S.A. 10:5-1, et seq . (Dkt. No. 1) According to Defendant, when Plaintiff filed the Complaint, she had only four days left before the statute of limitations expired.

On January 5, 2012, Defendant's first motion to dismiss was granted without prejudice, but gave Plaintiff leave to file a motion to amend the complaint within 14 days. (Opinion & Order, Dkt. Nos. 12-13) On January 25, 2011, six days after the fourteen day deadline, Plaintiff filed the instant Motion to both forgive the delay and amend the complaint. (Dkt. No. 14) The delay was occasioned by Plaintiff's counsel's familial responsibilities in response to the passing of his father.

Defendant opposes the Motion based on the expiration of the statute of limitations and, alternatively, a failure to state a claim. Plaintiff has not filed a reply or opposition to Defendant's arguments.

II.

The Court must first determine whether the delay is excusable and, if so, whether Plaintiff's proposed amended complaint is nonetheless futile.

A.

"When an act may or must be done within a specified time, the court may, for good cause, extend the time on motion made after the time has expired if the party failed to act because of excusable neglect." Fed.R.Civ.P. 6(b)(1)(B). Under Pioneer , the excusable neglect inquiry must consider "all relevant circumstances surrounding the party's omission." Pioneer Inv. Servs. Co. v. Brunswick Assocs. Ltd. P'ship , 507 U.S. 380, 395 (1993). Among the factors that should be considered are "the danger of prejudice to the [non-movant], the length of the delay and its potential impact on judicial proceedings, the reason for the delay, including whether it was within the reasonable control of the movant, and whether the movant acted in good faith." Id.

Here, Plaintiff has made a formal motion detailing the reasons for excusable neglect. Plaintiff's attorney was tending to his sick father between January 17 and January 19, who eventually passed away on January 21, two days after the January 19 deadline. (Cert. Cronin ¶¶ 12-13) With regard to the Pioneer factors, six days has caused no prejudice to Defendant and the minimal delay will have no negative impact on the proceedings.

Moreover, the passing of Plaintiff's counsel's father was clearly not in counsel's control and there is nothing to suggest that he did not act in good faith. Accordingly, the Court ...


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