United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
A. FITZWATER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
in this removed case move for leave to amend their answer and
separately move to stay the parties' deadlines for
responding to the currently pending motions for summary
judgment. For the reasons that follow, the court grants the
motion for leave to amend and denies without prejudice as
moot defendants' motion to stay.
Isabel Balderas (“Balderas”) filed this lawsuit
in state court on August 10, 2016, alleging claims under
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title
VII”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., against
Dallas County and Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez.
Defendants, who were represented at that time by Tammy J.
Ardolf, Esquire (“Ardolf”), filed their state
court original answer on September 8, 2016, and, on September
15, 2016, removed the case to federal court. On October 5,
2016 the parties filed, and this court granted, an agreed
motion to substitute the late Dolena T. Westergard, Esquire
(“Westergard”) as defendants' counsel.
October 24, 2016 the court entered a scheduling order
(“Scheduling Order”), setting February 1, 2017 as
the deadline for amending pleadings and setting May 31, 2017
as the discovery deadline. Westergard died on July 26, 2017.
On August 14, 2017 defendants filed an agreed motion to
substitute Ardolf (defendants' original counsel) as their
lead counsel. The court granted the motion on August 15,
2017. On September 13, 2017 the court also granted the
parties' joint motion to extend pretrial deadlines, and
extended the discovery deadline until January 31, 2018.
January 22, 2018-nine days before the discovery
deadline-defendants filed a motion for leave to file their
first amended answer. They contend that, while drafting
defendants' motion for summary judgment, Ardolf became
aware that Westergard had never amended the original answer.
Defendants move for leave to amend on the ground that they
wish to remove several non-relevant defenses and add the
affirmative defense of undue hardship. Balderas opposes the
January 29, 2018 defendants filed a motion for summary
judgment, and on January 31, 2018 Balderas filed a motion for
summary judgment. On February 13, 2018 defendants filed an
opposed motion to stay the parties' deadlines for
responding to the motions for summary judgment until the
court decides defendants' motion for leave to file a
first amended answer.
as here, the deadline for seeking leave to amend pleadings
has expired, a court considering a motion to amend must first
determine whether to modify the scheduling order under the
Rule 16(b)(4) good cause standard. See, e.g., S & W
Enters., L.L.C. v. SouthTrust Bank of Ala., N.A., 315
F.3d 533, 536 (5th Cir. 2003); Valcho v. Dall. Cnty.
Hosp. Dist., 658 F.Supp.2d 802, 814 (N.D. Tex. 2009)
(Fitzwater, C.J.). To meet this standard, the moving parties
must show that, despite their diligence, they could not
reasonably have met the scheduling order deadline. See S
& W Enters., 315 F.3d at 535. If the movants satisfy
the requirements of Rule 16(b)(4), the court must then
determine whether to grant leave to amend under the more
liberal standard of Rule 15(a)(2), which provides that
“[t]he court should freely give leave when justice so
requires.” Rule 15(a)92); see S & W
Enters., 315 F.3d at 536; Am. Tourmaline Fields v.
Int'l Paper Co., 1998 WL 874825, at *1 (N.D. Tex.
Dec. 7, 1998) (Fitzwater, J.).
court assesses four factors when deciding whether to grant an
untimely motion for leave to amend 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.”
S & W Enters., 315 F.3d at 536 (citation,
internal quotation marks, and brackets omitted). The court
considers the four factors holistically and “does not
mechanically count the number of factors that favor each
side.” EEOC v. Serv. Temps., Inc., 2009 WL
3294863, at *3 (N.D. Tex. Oct. 13, 2009) (Fitzwater, C.J.),
aff'd, 679 F.3d 323 (5th Cir. 2012).
do not address the Rule 16(b)(4) good cause standard in their
motion for leave to file their first amended answer, although
they do discuss the four factors in their reply brief.
“When a party files an untimely motion for leave to
amend and does not address the good cause standard under Rule
16(b)(4), this court typically denies the motion for that
reason alone.” Wachovia Bank, Nat'l Ass'n
v. Schlegel, 2010 WL 2671316, at *3 (N.D. Tex. June 30,
2010) (Fitzwater, C.J.) (citing Serv. Temps, 2009 WL
3294863, at *1). But the court has made exceptions in cases
where the movant does not address the Rule 16(b)(4) good
cause standard, but the grounds on which it relies to
establish good cause are relatively clear. See, e.g.,
Nieves v. John Bean Techs. Corp., 2014 WL 2587577, at *2
(N.D. Tex. June 10, 2014) (Fitzwater, C.J.) (“Nieves
neither identifies the correct standard nor cites Rule
16(b)(4) in her brief, but the grounds on which she relies
enable the court to apply the pertinent four-factor