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Wilson v. Grundfos

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

November 2, 2017

JEROME WILSON, Plaintiff,
v.
GRUNDFOS, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Robert M. Dow, Jr. United States District Judge.

         Before the Court is Plaintiff's motion for leave to file a first amended complaint [24]. Defendant opposes the motion, arguing that Plaintiff should not be allowed to amend the complaint because (1) Plaintiff filed his motion just before the fact discovery deadline, (2) Plaintiff had access to the information needed to amend the complaint long before he sought leave to amend, and (3) it would be inefficient and unduly prejudicial to allow Plaintiff to add new parties and new claims at this late stage [27].

         For the reasons set forth below, with respect to Grundfos Americas Corporation, Plaintiff's motion [24] is granted. With respect to proposed Count III against Michael Livingston, and proposed Counts I and II against Grundfos Water Utility, Inc. and Yeoman's Chicago Corporation, Plaintiff's motion [24] is denied. The case is set for further status hearing on November 15, 2017 at 9:00 a.m.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff filed this employment discrimination suit on January 11, 2016, bringing claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”). Although Plaintiff's original complaint simply named “Grundfos” as the Defendant, counsel appeared on behalf of “Defendant Grundfos Americas Corporation.” [See 7.] Furthermore, it was Grundfos Americas Corporation that answered Plaintiff's original complaint. [See 9.] In a footnote on the front page of Defendant's answer, Defendant stated: “Plaintiff names ‘Grundfos' as the defendant in this case, but it is not the correct defendant. This is an employment discrimination case, and Plaintiff at all relevant times worked for Yeomen's Chicago Corporation, which is a subsidiary of Grundfos Americas Corporation.” [Id. at 1 n.1.]

         On April 18, 2017, the Court ordered fact discovery to be completed by September 1, 2017 and ordered dispositive motions to be filed by October 16, 2017. [See 23.] On August 21, 2017, less than two weeks before the fact discovery deadline and less than two months before the dispositive motion deadline, Plaintiff filed the motion for leave to file a first amended complaint [24] that is now pending before the Court.

         Plaintiff seeks leave to file an amended complaint adding Grundfos Water Utility, Inc., Yeoman's Chicago Corporation, and Grundfos Americas Corporation to Counts I and II of his complaint. In his reply brief [29, at 2], Plaintiff states that, “according to Illinois records, ” Grundfos Water Utility, Inc. formerly was Yeoman's Chicago Corporation. Plaintiff also seeks to add a count (Count III) for Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (“IIED”) against Michael Livingston, whom Plaintiff identifies as his former supervisor. The parties have not moved to extend the September 1, 2017 fact discovery deadline. The Court deferred the dispositive motion deadline pending a ruling on this motion [30]. There currently is no trial date set in this matter.

         II. Legal Standard

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a) provides that if a party is not entitled to amend a pleading as a matter of course, it may amend “with the opposing party's written consent or the court's leave.” The court “should freely give leave when justice so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). “Although the rule reflects a liberal attitude towards the amendment of pleadings, courts in their sound discretion may deny a proposed amendment if the moving party has unduly delayed in filing the motion, if the opposing party would suffer undue prejudice, or if the pleading is futile.” Campania Mgmt. Co. v. Rooks, Pitts & Poust, 290 F.3d 843, 848-49 (7th Cir. 2002). Delay on its own is usually not reason enough for a court to deny a motion to amend. Dubicz v. Commonwealth Edison Co., 377 F.3d 787, 792-93 (7th Cir. 2004); Perrian v. O'Grady, 958 F.2d 192, 194 (7th Cir.1992). But “‘the longer the delay, the greater the presumption against granting leave to amend.'” King v. Cooke, 26 F.3d 720, 723 (7th Cir. 1994) (quoting Tamari v. Bache & Co., 838 F.2d 904, 908 (7th Cir. 1988)). An amendment is futile when it “merely restates the same facts using different language, or reasserts a claim previously determined”; when it “fails to state a valid theory of liability”; or when it “could not withstand a motion to dismiss.” Bower v. Jones, 978 F.2d 1004, 1008 (7th Cir. 1992) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted).

         III. Analysis

         A. Undue Delay and Prejudice

         Defendant argues that Plaintiff's “eleventh-hour” request for leave to amend the complaint is unduly delayed and therefore should be denied. According to Defendant, Plaintiff had access to the information needed to amend the complaint long before he sought leave to amend and offers no justification for delaying until now to seek leave to amend the complaint. The Court agrees. Plaintiff seeks to add (1) Grundfos Water Utility, Inc., (2) Yeoman's Chicago Corporation, and (3) Grundfos Americas Corporation (collectively the “Corporate Entities”) to Counts I and II of his lawsuit. Plaintiff also seeks to add a third count for IIED against Livingston.

         With respect to the Corporate Entities, the Court recognizes that it is sometimes challenging for individual litigants to piece together the relationships between related corporate entities. Plaintiff represents that it was not until Defendant tendered amended Rule 26(a)(1) disclosures that Plaintiff learned that Yeoman's Chicago Corporation, now Grundfos Water Utility, Inc., should be added as a party to this lawsuit. [29, at 2.] However, in March 2016, when Defendant answered the complaint [9] and filed its attorney appearance [7] and corporate disclosure statement [8], Defendant informed Plaintiff that he worked for Yeoman's Chicago Corporation, which was a subsidiary of Grundfos Americas Corporation, and that counsel represented the latter entity, which it believed to be the proper party defendant in this litigation. [9, at 1 n.1.] Given that multiple documents filed in this matter more than a year and a half ago indicate that the Corporate Entities should have been made party to this lawsuit, Plaintiff cannot justify failing to investigate the relationship between the named Defendant and the Corporate Entities at an earlier time.

         Plaintiff also seeks to add a claim of IIED against Livingston based on derogatory and racist comments that he allegedly made to Plaintiff. But, again, Plaintiff offers no coherent explanation as to why he delayed until discovery was almost completed to seek leave to amend his complaint. Plaintiff claims that “it was not until Plaintiff conducted several depositions where these allegations were confirmed by witnesses” that “the outrageousness of Livingston's actions” became clear. [See 29, at 3.] Putting aside the irony of bringing a claim for IIED-which requires a showing of “extreme and outrageous conduct” (see, e.g., Wilson-Trattner v. Campbell, 863 F.3d 589, 596 (7th Cir. 2017)-while simultaneously asserting that the seriousness of Livingston's statements did not become clear until years after the alleged conduct, it is clear that Plaintiff was aware of the factual basis of his IIED claim against Livingston at the time he filed his original complaint. Moreover, Plaintiff's claim against Livingston is based on statements that he allegedly made ...


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