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 Mark Van (“Plaintiff) for leave to file an
Amended Complaint [ECF No. 10]. Defendant Atlantic Health
Systems (“Defendant” or “AHS”)
opposes Plaintiffs motion [ECF. No. 12]. For the reasons set
forth below, Plaintiffs motion to file an Amended Complaint
[ECF. No. 10] is GRANTED.
BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
initial Complaint in this matter was filed in the Superior
Court of New Jersey, Essex County, on September 16, 2016.
See Compl., ECF No. 1 at 7. In his Complaint, Plaintiff
alleges that he worked at AHS as an emergency services
provider. Compl. ¶ 1. Plaintiff further alleges that he
was suspended from his position for inappropriately assisting
personnel from Mountainside Hospital in getting a
certification for Emergency Medical Services and for
violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability
Act. Id. ¶ 32. Specifically, Plaintiff
initiated this action asserting: (1) violations of the
Conscientious Employee Protection Act; (2) tortious
interference with a contract; (3) defamation; (4) civil
conspiracy; and (5) tortious interference with prospective
economic advantage. See generally Compl.
March of 2017, the Superior Court dismissed various claims in
Plaintiff's Complaint. Notice of Removal, ECF No. 1
¶ 6 (“NOR”). On May 24, 2017, Plaintiff
filed a motion to amend his Complaint alleging, inter
alia, that AHS failed to inform him of his Consolidated
Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986
(“COBRA”) rights. Id. ¶ 7. While
Plaintiff's motion was still pending, Defendant removed
the action to this Court on June 12, 2017 pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1441, citing this Court's jurisdiction
under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. NOR ¶ 11.
now seeks to file an Amended Complaint to include new factual
allegations, a new individual defendant and new claims for:
(1) tortious interference as to AHS and Anthony Raffino
(Count IV); (2) termination in violation of public policy as
to AHS (Count V); (3) negligent retention/failure to train as
to AHS (Count VI); (4) false light as to Anthony Raffino
(Count VII); and (5) failure to inform Plaintiff of his COBRA
rights as to AHS (Count VIII). See generally
Proposed Am. Compl. ECF No. 10-2. Defendant opposes
Plaintiff's motion. Def.'s Br. in Opp'n, ECF No.
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).
does not assert that Plaintiff's motion was unduly
delayed or results from any bad faith, but argues that it
would be prejudiced by Plaintiff's proposed amendments
and that the amendments are futile. First, the Court
addresses Defendant's claim that it would be prejudiced
by Plaintiff's proposed amendments. A court may deny a
motion to amend if by virtue of allowance of the amendment
the opposing party would be unduly prejudiced.
Foman, 371 U.S. at 182.
argues that it has already served and received responses to
written discovery and if Plaintiff's motion is granted,
Defendant will be required to defend baseless claims and
prepare additional written discovery further delaying
disposition of this matter. Def.'s Br. in Opp'n at 7.
While the Court recognizes that Defendant may suffer some
prejudice should Plaintiff's motion be granted,
Defendant's mild assertions of prejudice do not amount to
the level of prejudice necessary for the Court to deny
Plaintiff's motion to amend. To establish undue
prejudice, Defendant must demonstrate that it will be
“unfairly disadvantaged or deprived of the opportunity
to present facts or evidence” unless the amendment is
denied. Bechtel v. Robinson, 886 F.2d 644, 652 (3d
Cir. 1989) (citation omitted). Since discovery is in its
earliest stages, Plaintiff's proposed amendments will not
deprive Defendant of the opportunity to present facts or
evidence or otherwise prepare and present its case.
Accordingly, Defendant has failed to demonstrate that it will
be unduly prejudiced by Plaintiff's proposed amendments.
the Court addresses Defendant's assertion that
Plaintiff's proposed amendments are futile. 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
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 Counts IV, V and VII of Plaintiff's proposed
Amended Complaint, Defendant asserts that the claims are
futile because Plaintiff failed to allege sufficient facts
upon which relief can be granted. Def.'s Br. in Opp'n
at 13-14, 18. As to Count VI of Plaintiff's proposed
Amended Complaint, Defendant contends that the claim is
futile because it is barred by the New Jersey Workers'
Compensation Act. Id. at 12. While Defendant may be
correct in its assertions regarding the viability of
Plaintiff's proposed claims, it appears to the Court that
a ruling on Defendant's 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, ...