Plaintiff Granted Leave to Amend Complaint to Add Claim of Disparate Treatment

In Schaper v. Bronx Lebanon Hospital Center, 2019 WL 7102144 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 20, 2019), the court granted plaintiff’s motion for leave to file an amended complaint asserting, in addition to claims of hostile work environment and retaliation, a claim of disparate treatment.

On September 30, 2019, the court denied defendants’ motion for summary judgment, noting (inter alia) that plaintiff’s Title VII discrimination “cannot be construed as a claim of disparate treatment because it is limited to a claim of hostile work environment.” The court thus declined to address a “disparate treatment” claim, but invited plaintiff to request leave to amend her complaint. Plaintiff did so. Defendants opposed plaintiff’s request.

The court summarized the legal standard for amending a complaint in federal court:

Pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 15(a)(1) a party may amend its complaint once without leave of court up to 21 days after the service of either a responsive pleading or various Fed. R. Civ. P. 12 motions. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(1). After that time has expired, any amendment requires the consent of the opposing parties or leave of court. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2). Rule 15(a)(2) states “the court should freely give leave when justice so requires.” Id. The Supreme Court has instructed that “this mandate is to be heeded.” Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962). However, it is ultimately “within the sound discretion of the court whether to grant leave to amend.” John Hancock Mut. Fife Ins. Co. v. Amerford Int’l Corp., 22 F.3d 458, 462 (2d Cir. 1994) (citing Foman, 371 U.S. at 178). Where “the moving party has unduly delayed or acted in bad faith, the opposing party will be unfairly prejudiced if leave is granted, or the proposed amendment is futile” courts in this circuit have denied motions to amend a complaint.

Defendants argued that plaintiff’s motion should be denied because she exercised undue delay and a dilatory motive, and that they would be unduly prejudiced if the court were to grant her request.

The court disagreed:

Although it is true that discovery closed and the court rendered a decision on Defendants’ motion for summary judgment, “ ‘mere delay’ is not, of itself, sufficient to justify denial of a Rule 15(a) motion.” Parker v. Columbia Pictures Indus., 204 F.3d 326, 339 (2d Cir. 2000); see also State Teachers Retirement Board v. Fluor Corp., 654 F.2d 843, 856 (2d Cir. 1981) (“Mere delay, however, absent a showing of bad faith or undue prejudice, does not provide a basis for a district court to deny the right to amend”). Here, Plaintiff believed her complaint included a claim of disparate treatment. This belief appears to be genuine considering Plaintiff addressed disparate treatment in her opposition brief to Defendants’ summary judgment motion. Because Defendants have failed to make a showing of bad faith, and as described below they have not demonstrated undue prejudice, the Court finds that this delay is not sufficient to deny Plaintiff’s motion.

“In determining what constitutes ‘prejudice,’ ” the Second Circuit has considered “whether the assertion of the new claim or defense would ‘(i) require the opponent to expend significant additional resources to conduct discovery and prepare for trial; (ii) significantly delay the resolution of the dispute; or (iii) prevent the plaintiff from bringing a timely action in another jurisdiction.’ ” Monahan v. New York City Dep’t of Corr., 214 F.3d 275, 284 (2d Cir. 2000) (citing Block, 988 F.2d 988 F.2d 344, 350 (2d Cir. 1993)). Here, Plaintiff indicated that there is no need for further discovery because she simply intends to add previously obtained information to her complaint. Accordingly, the Defendants would not be required to expend significant additional resources. Furthermore, there will not be significant delay in the resolution of the dispute since a trial has not yet been scheduled.