United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division
GREGORY GREEN, LAVALIUS GORDON, GABRIEL LUKE, LONNIE HOLMAN, RAMON CAMPBELL, and TREVOR HINES Plaintiffs,
CITY OF HOUSTON, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Rosenthal Chief United States District Judge.
plaintiffs, Lavalius Gordon, Gregory Green, Lonnie Holman,
and Gabriel Luke, sued the City of Houston, alleging that the
promotional examinations for Senior Captain used by the
Houston Fire Department are discriminatory. (Docket Entry
Nos. 1, 21, 56, 67). In February 2019, the court granted the
plaintiffs leave to file a third amended complaint and
required that they move for leave to file a fourth amended
complaint by April 22, 2019. (Docket Entry No. 73). The
plaintiffs failed to do so, moving for leave to file a fourth
amended complaint on May 1, 2019. (Docket Entry No. 89). The
City responded, arguing that the court should not grant leave
because the plaintiffs missed the filing deadline, did not
comply with local rules, and did not substantially alter
their claims. (Docket Entry No. 91).
on the motion, response, and the applicable law and local
rules, the court denies leave for the plaintiffs to file a
fourth amended complaint and strikes the fourth amended
complaint. (Docket Entry Nos. 89, 90).
August 2017, the plaintiffs sued the City, alleging that the
promotional examinations for Senior Captain used by the
Houston Fire Department adversely impact African Americans.
(Docket Entry No. 1). They alleged that the use of the
examinations constituted employment discrimination and
violated the Equal Protection Clause. (Id. at
¶¶ 65, 67, 69, 71). They sought a declaration that
the Senior Captain promotional examination in 2013 and 2015
had an adverse impact on African-American candidates and an
injunction requiring promotion of the plaintiffs, back pay,
compensatory damages, and attorney's fees. (Id.
at ¶ 123).
City moved to dismiss the original complaint. (Docket Entry
No. 10). At the January 2018 motion hearing, the court
required the plaintiffs to file an amended complaint and
dismissed the motion as moot. (Docket Entry No. 19). The
plaintiffs filed their first amended complaint on January 19,
2018, and the City again moved to dismiss. (Docket Entry Nos.
21, 25). The court ordered the City to rebrief the motion at
the March 2018 hearing, which it did, filing an amended
motion to dismiss later that month. (Docket Entry Nos. 33,
37). The court dismissed the § 1981 and § 1983
claims related to the 2013 exams with prejudice and dismissed
the remaining § 1983 claims, without prejudice. (Docket
Entry No. 49). The court required the plaintiffs to amend no
later than April 27, 2018. (Id.).
plaintiffs missed the April 27 deadline. In June 2018, the
City advised the court that it was proceeding with the 2018
Senior Captain promotional examinations. (Docket Entry No.
53). In November 2018, the court scheduled a status
conference. (Docket Entry Nos. 54-55). Almost three weeks
later, the plaintiffs filed a second amended complaint, which
was virtually identical to the prior complaints apart from
its addition of allegations related to the 2018 examination.
(See Docket Entry No. 56).
December 2018 status conference, the court noted that the
second amended complaint did not appear to have been amended
in accordance with the court's March 2018 order
dismissing the § 1983 claims based on the 2013 exams.
(Docket Entry No. 61). The court entered a new scheduling
order, which required the plaintiffs to move for leave to
file an amended complaint. (Docket Entry No. 62 at 1). On
January 25, 2019, the plaintiffs moved for leave to file a
third amended complaint and to file a fourth amended
complaint the next month. (Docket Entry Nos. 67, 68). The
court granted the motion for leave to file a third amended
complaint but denied the motion to file a fourth amended
complaint, without prejudice. The court required the
plaintiffs to move for leave to file an amended complaint by
April 22, 2019. (Docket Entry No. 73). The plaintiffs moved
for leave to file their fourth amended complaint on May 1,
2019, without asking for leave to extend the April 22
deadline. (Docket Entry No. 90).
The Legal Standards
The Rule 15(a) Standard
15(a) provides that a party may amend his or her pleading
once without seeking leave of court or the consent of the
adverse party at any time before a responsive pleading is
served. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a). After a responsive pleading is
served, a party may amend only by “leave of court or by
written consent of the adverse party.” Id.
Although leave to amend pleadings “shall be freely
given when justice requires, ” id., leave to
amend “is not automatic.” Matagorda Ventures
Inc. v. Travelers Lloyds Inc. Co., 203 F.Supp.2d 704,
718 (S.D. Tex. 2000) (citing Dussouy v. Gulf Coast Inv.
Corp., 660 F.2d 594, 598 (5th Cir. 1981)). A district
court reviewing a motion to amend pleadings under Rule 15(a)
may consider factors such as “whether there has been
‘undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive . . . undue
prejudice to the opposing party, and futility of
amendment.'” Jacobsen v. Osborne, 133 F.3d
315, 318 (5th Cir. 1998) (quoting In re Southmark
Corp., 88 F.3d 311, 314-15 (5th Cir. 1996)).
The Rule 16(b)(4) Standard
Rule of Civil Procedure 16(b)(4) states that a court-ordered
deadline may be modified only for good cause and with the
court's consent. Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(4). Courts consider
four factors in deciding whether there is good cause:
“(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.”
Sw. Bell Tel. Co. v. City of El Paso, 346 F.3d 541,
546 (5th Cir. 2003). A district court has “broad
discretion to preserve the integrity and purpose of the
pretrial order.” Hodges v. United States, 597
F.2d 1014, 1018 (5th Cir. 1979).