United States District Court, D. New Jersey
OPINION AND ORDER
B. CLARK, III United States Magistrate Judge
MATTER comes before the Court on a motion by
Plaintiff Richard Diaz (“Plaintiff”) for leave to
file an Amended Complaint [ECF No. 8]. Hector Lora, Luis
Guzman, Carlos Figueroa, Gary Schaer, and Zaida
Polanco (collectively “the Proposed
Defendants”) oppose Plaintiff's motion [ECF Nos.
10, 12]. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's
Motion to Amend [ECF No. 8] is GRANTED.
BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
commenced this action on November 4, 2016 by filing a
six-count Complaint in the Superior Court of New Jersey,
Passaic County Law Division against Defendants City of
Passaic (“Passaic”), John Doe 1-10, and ABC Corp.
1-10. Compl. at 9, ECF No. 1. Plaintiff's initial
Complaint alleges, inter alia, that Plaintiff was
placed on administrative leave from his position as Public
Safety Director for Passaic after announcing his candidacy
for Mayor of the City of Passaic. See Compl.
¶¶ 4-13. According to Plaintiff, Passaic violated
its constitutional rights when Defendant suspended him
“based solely upon third party allegations, and without
providing Plaintiff with notice of said suspension and/or by
failing to afford Plaintiff an opportunity to have a hearing
prior to his suspension.” Id. ¶ 16.
Passaic removed the action to this Court on December 15, 2016
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1441 and 1446, citing this
Court's federal question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1331. See Notice of Removal ¶¶ 1-5,
ECF No. 1 (“NOR”).
February 24, 2017, the Court entered a Pretrial Scheduling
Order which provided that “[a]ny motion to amend the
pleadings must be filed by May 26, 2017 and shall be made
returnable on June 19, 2017.” Pretrial Scheduling Order
¶ 16, ECF No. 4 (“Scheduling Order”).
Without consent of counsel or leave of the Court, Plaintiff
filed his Amended Complaint on May 25, 2017. See
Amended Compl., ECF No. 6. According to Plaintiff, he
mistakenly believed that the Pretrial Scheduling Order
granted him leave to file an Amended Complaint without
further leave of Court. Id. On June 16, 2017, the
Court held a telephone conference with the parties and
advised Plaintiff that the instant motion would be necessary
absent the consent of all counsel. See ECF No. 8-2.
The Proposed Defendants and Passaic refused to
consent. Id. Subsequently, Plaintiff filed
the present motion for leave to file an Amended Complaint
seeking to add additional defendants and claims. ECF No. 8.
present motion, Plaintiff argues that pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a), the Court should grant
Plaintiff's Motion to Amend because “there cannot
even be a suggestion of undue delay, bad faith, prejudice or
futility.” Pl.'s Br. Mot. Amend at 3. In their
opposition brief, the Proposed Defendants contend that
Plaintiffs proposed Amended Complaint is futile because it
fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
See Defs.' Br. Opp'n at 10, ECF No. 10
(Schaer's Opp'n Br.”); See also
Defs.' Br. Opp'n, ECF No. 12 (“Lora's
proposed Amended Complaint seeks to add Defendants Hector
Lora, Luis Guzman, Gary Schaer, Alex Blanco, Carlos Figueroa,
Zaida Polanco and Peter Rosario. Plaintiff also seeks to add
an additional claim asserting that Passaic is liable for the
actions of its employees and agents. Amended Compl. ¶ 63
(Seventh Count), ECF No. 6.
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a), “a party may
amend its pleading only with the opposing party's written
consent or the court's leave” and “[t]he
court should freely give leave when justice so
requires.” The decision to grant leave to amend rests
within the sound discretion of the trial court. Zenith
Radio Corp. v. Hazeltine Research Inc., 401 U.S. 321,
330 (1970). In determining a motion for leave to amend,
courts consider the following factors: (1) undue delay on the
part of the party seeking to amend; (2) bad faith or dilatory
motive behind the amendment; (3) repeated failure to cure
deficiencies through multiple prior amendments; (4) undue
prejudice on the opposing party; and/or (5) futility of the
amendment. See Great Western Mining & Mineral Co. v.
Fox Rothschild LLP, 615 F.3d 159, 174 (3d Cir. 2010)
(quoting Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962)).
In addition, “[t]he Third Circuit has consistently
emphasized the liberal approach to pleading embodied by Rule
15.” Endo Pharma v. Mylan Techs Inc., 2013
U.S. Dist. LEXIS 32931, at *4 (D. Del. Mar. 11, 2013). The
Court should only deny leave when these factors
“suggest that amendment would be ‘unjust'. .
. .” Arthur v. Maersk, Inc., 434 F.3d 196, 203
(3d Cir. 2006).
Proposed Defendants do not allege that Plaintiff's
proposed amendments are a product of bad faith, undue delay
or that they would cause undue prejudice. Rather, the
Proposed Defendants challenge Plaintiff's proposed
amendments on “futility” grounds. A proposed
amendment is 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
omitted). In determining whether an amendment is insufficient
on its face, the Court employs the same standard as in a Rule
12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. In re Burlington Coat Factory
Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1434 (3d Cir. 1997)
(citation omitted). Under a Rule 12(b)(6) analysis, the
question is not whether the movant will ultimately prevail,
and detailed factual allegations are not necessary to survive
such a motion. Antoine v. KPMG Corp., 2010 WL
147928, at *6 (D.N.J. Jan. 6, 2010). If a proposed amendment
is not clearly futile, then denial of leave to amend is
improper. Meadows v. Hudson County Bd. of Elections,
2006 WL 2482956, at *3 (D.N.J. Aug. 24, 2006).
respect to Plaintiff's proposed amendments seeking to add
Gary Schaer and Zaida Polanco, the Proposed Defendants assert
that Plaintiff's amendment is futile because
“neither of these individuals had any involvement in
the acts alleged in the amended pleading nor does
Plaintiff's Amended Complaint assert sufficient factual
allegations” to support their inclusion in this matter.
Schaer's Opp'n Br. at 1. As to Plaintiffs proposed
amendments seeking to add Hector Lora, Luis Guzman, and
Carlos Figueroa, the Proposed Defendants assert that
“Plaintiff's proposed Amended Complaint fails to
make any actionable allegations of any act or omission
related to these [Proposed] Defendants.” Lora's
Opp'n Br. at 1. The Proposed Defendants further assert
that the “proposed amendments to [Plaintiff's]
Complaint are futile as they fail to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted.” Id.
the Proposed Defendants may be correct in their assertions
regarding the viability of Plaintiff's proposed
amendments, it appears to the Court that a ruling on the
Proposed Defendants' futility arguments in the context of
the present motion would require legal determinations better
suited for a motion to dismiss. Accordingly, the Court
declines to find at this juncture that Plaintiff's
proposed amendments are clearly futile. Based on the
foregoing, Plaintiff's motion for leave to file an
Amended Complaint is GRANTED.
CONCLUSION AND ORDER
Court having considered the papers submitted pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 78, ...