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Marinac v. Mondelez International, Inc.

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

January 29, 2019

TIHO MARINAC, Plaintiff,
v.
MONDELEZ INTERNATIONAL, INC., Defendant.

          OPINION

          MARK FALK UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court upon Plaintiff's motion for leave to amend his Complaint. (CM/ECF No. 70.) The motion is opposed. The motion is decided on the papers. Fed.R.Civ.P. 78(b). For the reasons set forth below, the motion is granted.

         BACKGROUND

         A. Factual and Procedural History

         This is an employment discrimination case. Plaintiff Tiho Marinac was employed as a Senior Business Development Manager for Defendant Mondelez International, Inc. (“Mondelez” or “Defendant”). (Am. Compl. ¶ 6.) Plaintiff was terminated from his employment in May 2014. (Id. at 10.) Plaintiff was 54 years old and had worked for Mondelez and its predecessors for more than 10 years at the time of his termination. (Id. at 10.) According to Plaintiff, following his termination, Mondelez replaced Plaintiff with a person more than 20 years younger. (Id. at 16.)

         On October 16, 2014, Plaintiff filed a single count Complaint against Mondelez in state court asserting a claim of age discrimination in violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“NJLAD”), N.J.S.A. 10:5-1, et seq. Mondelez removed the case on diversity jurisdiction grounds. Following dispositive motion practice, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint (FAC) on April 30, 2015 asserting a single count under NJLAD.[1] Mondelez filed an Answer on May 14, 2015. On July 16, 2015, the Court entered a Scheduling Order closing discovery March 1, 2016, and providing that any motions to amend be filed by October 30, 2015. (CM/ECF No. 12.) The Court entered two more scheduling orders on February 29 and June 9, 2016, extending discovery; neither order contained a deadline by which motions to amend were to be filed. (CM/ECF Nos. 23 and 28.) Pursuant to the June 9 Order, discovery was set to close September 1, 2016. (CM/ECF No. 28.). Following several conferences, the Court entered an Order on June 20, 2016, referring the case to mediation and staying the case for 90 days. Mediation was reported unsuccessful on July 29, 2016.

         Since that time the case went off schedule for a variety of reasons. In that time period, the Court has held at least nine case management and settlement conferences with the parties. Additionally, the Court has ruled on three motions to withdraw as counsel for Plaintiff filed by three different lawyers-the first two granted; the third denied.[2] The Court conducted hearings on all three motions. Consequently, prosecution of this case has barely begun. Despite discovery having been open for nearly 14 months, it is just really beginning. Plaintiff now again moves for leave to amend his Complaint.

         B. Plaintiff's Motion to Amend

         There are three different aspects to Plaintiff's motion to amend. Plaintiff seeks leave to file a Second Amended Complaint (SAC) to: (1) add two new parties; (2) add two new causes of action, and (3) to amplify the existing allegations to include facts which allegedly were revealed through written discovery.

         First, Plaintiff seeks to add Mondelez International Holdings LLC (“MIH”) and Mondelez Global LLC (“MG”) as defendants. Although the named defendant is Mondelez International, Inc., Plaintiff claims, with some basis, that it is unclear which entity was actually Plaintiff's employer. He further claims that the way Mondelez conducts business, intermixing the three entities without regard to corporate formalities, warrants treating them as one and the same. In support of his argument, Plaintiff notes that although Mondelez is the defendant, MIH filed the Answer to the Complaint and has represented that it is Plaintiff's employer.[3] Plaintiff also relies on a letter sent to Plaintiff's prior attorney from MG's in-house counsel wherein she refers to MG as Plaintiff's employer, in direct contrast to MIH's representation that it employed Plaintiff. Finally, Plaintiff's Termination Notice dated May 19, 2014, indicates that he was being terminated for violation of MG's Code of Conduct-a fact which Plaintiff further argues justifies the addition of these two entities as defendants.

         Second, Plaintiff also seeks to plead new factual allegations-45 new paragraphs and revisions to 9 paragraphs-as well as to plead additional remedies including damages for emotional distress, pain and suffering, humiliation, loss of reputation, and liquidated damages. Among the new allegations Plaintiff seeks to assert is that he mostly worked in New York.

         Finally, based on the fact that Plaintiff and Defendant both now say that he worked in New York, Plaintiff also seeks to add two additional claims for age discrimination under the New York State Human Rights Law, N.Y. Exec. Law §§ 290, et seq. (“NYSHRL”) and the New York City Human Rights Law, N.Y. Admin. Code §§ 8-101, et seq. (“NYCHRL”).

         DISCUSSION

         A. ...


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