Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Mauer v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division

December 15, 2017

ANGELA MAUER, Plaintiff,
v.
WAL-MART STORES, INC., ET AL., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER[1]

          DAVID L. HORAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Angela Mauer has filed an Amended Motion for Leave to File Amended Petition. See Dkt. No. 45. In her Amended Motion for Leave to File Amended Petition, Mauer explains that, “[t]hough Plaintiff's First Amended Petition pled claims sounding in premises liability, general negligence and gross negligence, there appears to be confusion on Defendants' part as to the nature of Plaintiff's claims. Thus, Plaintiff prays leave of the Court to Amend her Petition to conform her pleadings to provide additional language and clarity with regard to her negligence and gross negligence claims.” Id. at 2.

         Defendants Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Wal-Mart Stores East, Inc., d/b/a Wal-Mart #1055, and Wal-Mart Real Est Business (collectively, “Wal-Mart”) have filed a response, see Dkt. No. 46, and Mauer filed a reply, see Dkt. No. 47.

         As the Court explained in its briefing order, the following standards governing Mauer's motion, which is filed after the June 1, 2017 deadline for motions for leave to amend pleadings set by the Court's Initial Scheduling Order [Dkt. No. 20]:

Because the standards by which the Court evaluates a motion for leave to amend the pleadings vary according to whether the motion was filed before or after the deadline established in the scheduling order, the Court must determine, as an initial matter, whether the motion was filed before or after the deadline. See, e.g ., Orthoflex, Inc. v. Thermotek, Inc., Nos. 3:11-cv-08700-D & 3:10-cv-2618-D, 2011 WL 4398279, at *1 (N.D. Tex. Sept. 21, 2011) (“Motions for leave to amend are typically governed by [Federal Rule of Civil Procedure] 15(a)(2), or, if the time to seek leave to amend has expired, by [Federal Rule of Civil Procedure] 16(b)(4) and then by Rule 15(a)(2).”).
When the deadline for seeking leave to amend pleadings has expired, the Court must first determine whether to modify the scheduling order under the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16(b)(4) good cause standard. See S&W Enters., L.L.C. v. SouthTrust Bank of Ala., N.A., 315 F.3d 533, 536 (5th Cir. 2003). The Court's scheduling order “may be modified only for good cause and with the judge's consent.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(4). To meet the good cause standard, the party must show that, despite her diligence, she could not reasonably have met the scheduling order deadline. See S&W, 315 F.3d at 535. The Court assesses four factors when deciding whether to grant an untimely amendment under Rule 16(b)(4): “‘(1) the explanation for the failure to timely move for leave to amend; (2) the importance of the amendment; (3) potential prejudice in allowing the amendment; and (4) the availability of a continuance to cure such prejudice.'” Id. at 536 (quoting Reliance Ins. Co. v. La. Land & Exploration Co., 110 F.3d 253, 257 (5th Cir. 1997)).
In the related context of deciding whether to exclude an untimely expert designation, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, looking to the same four factors, has explained that, if “the first and third factors militate against permitting the testimony, the trial court was not obligated to continue the trial, ” where, “[o]therwise, the failure to satisfy the rules would never result in exclusion, but only in a continuance, ” and, “[b]ecause of a trial court's need to control its docket, a party's violation of the court's scheduling order should not routinely justify a continuance.” Hamburger v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 361 F.3d 875, 883-84 (5th Cir. 2004); see also Reliance Ins., 110 F.3d at 258 (“District judges have the power to control their dockets by refusing to give ineffective litigants a second chance to develop their case.”).
Moreover, courts “more carefully scrutinize a party's attempt to raise new theories of recovery by amendment when the opposing party has filed a motion for summary judgment.” Parish v. Frazier, 195 F.3d 761, 764 (5th Cir. 1999) (citations omitted). And, “[w]hen leave to amend is sought after a summary judgment motion has been filed, courts routinely decline to permit the moving party to amend.” Hunsinger v. Sko Brenner American, Inc., No. 3:13-cv-988-D, 2014 WL 1462443, at *14 (N.D. Tex. Apr. 15, 2014). As the Fifth Circuit has recognized, “[t]o grant ... leave to amend is potentially to undermine [the non-amending party's] right to prevail on a motion that necessarily was prepared without reference to an unanticipated amended complaint.... A party should not, without adequate grounds, be permitted to avoid summary judgment by the expedient of amending [his] complaint.” Overseas Inns S.A. P.A. v. United States, 911 F.2d 1146, 1151 (5th Cir. 1990) (internal quotation marks omitted).
The Fifth Circuit recently invoked this standard in affirming a district court's denial of an untimely amendment to add a new claim, explaining:
Finally, Squyres sought leave to amend his complaint on August 22, 2013. By that time, the December 31, 2012 deadline to amend pleadings had long since passed. Therefore, because Squyres sought to amend his pleadings after the deadline set in the scheduling order, Squyres had to satisfy Rule 16(b)' s standard and again demonstrate that he could not reasonably have met this deadline despite exercising diligence. Citing both Rule 16 and Rule 15, the district court denied Squyres's motion, concluding that Squyres had failed “to show that a third amended complaint should be permitted at this stage in the litigation.” Squyres fails to show good cause for his delay.
Squyres's only reason for failing to amend his complaint sooner is that he did not have the basis to allege a fraud claim until after he had deposed Frediani in mid-August 2013. Squyres, however, had informed the district court back in September 2012 that there was a possibility he would amend his complaint to include a fraudulent misrepresentation claim. Despite this knowledge, Squyres then waited almost a year to seek leave to amend his complaint. See E.E.O.C. v. Serv. Temps Inc., 679 F.3d 323, 334 (5th Cir. 2012) (affirming that the district court had acted within its discretion in denying leave to amend because the plaintiff's “reasonable suspicion” of a potential claim “accent[ed] [the plaintiff's] inability to explain the delay” in asking for leave to amend). Even assuming that it was reasonable for Squyres to delay amending his complaint until after he had deposed Frediani, his delay in scheduling Frediani's deposition was self-imposed, as discussed above. See Lozano v. Ocwen Fed. Bank, FSB, 489 F.3d 636, 644 (5th Cir. 2007) (affirming the district court's denial of leave to amend under Rule 15 because the plaintiffs “had been aware of the factual underpinnings of the [new] fraud claim for some time, and ... they had not been diligent in pursuing the claim”).
In addition to failing to explain his delay (both in seeking leave to amend and in scheduling Frediani's deposition), Squyres also fails to demonstrate that the amendment would have caused no prejudice to Appellees. Because Appellees had sought no discovery related to Squyres's fraud claim, allowing amendment would have imposed additional discovery costs. Moreover, Appellees had already filed their summary judgment motion by the time Squyres sought leave to amend. Thus, not only would the district court have needed to reopen discovery, but it also would have needed to allow another round of dispositive motions. See Parish v. Frazier, 195 F.3d 761, 764 (5th Cir. 1999) (per curiam) (noting that this court, even under the more liberal Rule 15 standard, “more carefully scrutinize[s] a party's attempt to raise new theories of recovery by amendment when the opposing party has filed a motion for summary judgment”).
Squyres's final argument is that the district court abused its discretion because it ignored his quid pro quo agreement with Appellees. This argument does not help Squyres. For one, the district court was not bound by the parties' agreement and instead had “broad discretion to preserve the integrity and purpose of the pretrial order.” S & W Enters., L.L.C. v. SouthTrust Bank of Ala., NA, 315 F.3d 533, 535 (5th Cir. 2003) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 16(b)(4) (stating that a scheduling order “may be modified only for good cause and with the judge's consent ” (emphasis added)). Next, it was also not an abuse of discretion for the district court to grant Appellees' motion to amend their answer, but to deny Squyres's motion to amend his complaint. Although the deadline to amend the pleadings had also already passed when Appellees filed their motion for leave to amend, Appellees had not yet filed their summary judgment motion and discovery had not yet closed under the new July 21 deadline. Squyres, on the other hand, did not file his motion until the end of August, after discovery had ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.