United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
L. HORAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
case has now been referred to the undersigned United States
magistrate judge for pretrial management under 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b) and a standing order of reference from United
States District Judge David C. Godbey. See Dkt. No.
18, 2019, prior to entry of this referral, Plaintiff Jyue Hwa
Fu moved under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a) to amend
the complaint to add as a defendant Ling's Holdings, LLC
- an entity alleged to be controlled by the existing
individual defendants, the only one of whom to thus far
appear is now proceeding pro se. See Dkt.
No. 17; see also Dkt. Nos. 8, 15, & 16. The
deadline to respond to this motion expired on August 8, 2019
without a response from either Defendant Yeh Chin Chin or
Defendant David Ling. See N.D. Tex. L. Civ. R.
reasons explained below, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's
motion; DIRECTS the Clerk of Court to docket Dkt. No. 17-1 as
Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint; and CAUTIONS
Defendant Ling's Holdings, LLC that it must retain
counsel on its behalf and that the failure to do so may
result in appropriate measures, including possibly entering a
default judgment against it should it fail to respond to
Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint through counsel.
Standards and Analysis
February 15, 2019 Scheduling Order, entered pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16(b), provides that
“[a]ny motion for leave to join additional parties must
be filed [by May 16, 2019 and that a]ny motion for leave to
amend pleadings under Rule 15(a) must be filed [by August 14,
2019].” Dkt. No. 14, ¶ 2.
characterizes the motion for leave - which, in substance,
seeks leave to join a new defendant - as a timely motion for
leave to amend the pleadings under Rule 15(a).
[But a] party cannot use a motion for leave to amend the
pleadings as a device to circumvent the separate deadline for
moving for leave to join parties. Such a reading of a
scheduling order would effectively render meaningless the
deadline for leave to join parties, because an amended
pleading could be used to add parties.
Grant v. Rathbun, No. 3:15-cv-4025-D, 2016 WL
1750572, at *2 (N.D. Tex. May 3, 2016). So the Court will
construe Plaintiff's motion as an untimely motion for
leave to join an additional party.
Rule of Civil Procedure 16(b)(3)(A) “provides that the
court's ‘scheduling order must limit the time to
join other parties.'” Nieves v. John Bean
Techs. Corp., No. 3:13-cv-4059-D, 2014 WL 2587577, at *1
(N.D. Tex. June 10, 2014). And “[w]hen the deadline to
seek leave to join a party 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.” Harris v. Copart, No.
3:16-cv-2980-D, 2018 WL 3598775, at *4 (N.D. Tex. June 27,
2018) (citing S&W Enters., L.L.C. v. SouthTrust Bank
of Ala., N.A., 315 F.3d 533, 536 (5th Cir. 2003)),
rec. adopted, 2018 WL 3596746 (N.D. Tex. July 26,
this standard, a party must show that, despite his diligence,
he could not reasonably have met the deadline in the
scheduling order. See S&W Enters., 315 F.3d at
535; Squyres v. Heico Cos., L.L.C., 782 F.3d 224,
237 (5th Cir. 2015) (“To show good cause, the party
seeking to modify the scheduling order has the burden of
showing that the deadlines cannot reasonably be met despite
the diligence of the party needing the extension.”
(internal quotation marks omitted)); see also Sosa v.
Airprint Sys., Inc., 133 F.3d 1417, 1418 (11th Cir.
1998) (“This good cause standard precludes modification
unless the schedule cannot be met despite the diligence of
the party seeking the extension.” (citations and
internal quotation marks omitted)).
Court considers four factors in determining whether to modify
a scheduling order for good cause 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 (quoting
Reliance Ins. Co. v. La. Land & Exploration Co.,
110 F.3d 253, 257 (5th Cir. 1997)); accord Squyres,
782 F.3d at 237.
court considers the four factors holistically and ‘does
not mechanically count the number of factors that favor each
side.'” Nieves, 2014 WL 2587577, at *1
(citation omitted). But “[t]he absence of prejudice to
the nonmovant and inadvertence of the party seeking the
modification are insufficient to demonstrate ‘good
cause.'” Barnes v. Sanchez, No.
3:07-cv-1184-M, 2010 WL 5027040, at *1 (N.D. Tex. Dec. 2,
2010) (footnote omitted). And, as another judge of the Court
has explained, “
[w]hen a party files an untimely motion ... and does not
address the good cause standard under Rule 16(b)(4), this
court typically denies the motion for that reason
alone.” But the court has made exceptions in cases
where the movant did not address the Rule 16(b)(4) good cause
standard but the ...