United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Peoria Division
ORDER & OPINION
BILLY McDADE UNITED STATES SENIOR DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Charles
Mojapelo's Request to Amend Complaint (Doc. 56).
Defendant Avis Budget Car Rental, LLC, has responded (Doc.
57) and the matter is ripe for review. For the reasons stated
below, Plaintiff's request is DENIED.
background of this matter may be found in the Court's
Order & Opinion on Defendant's Motion for Summary
Judgment (Doc. 52). A brief sketch of the dispute is all that
is necessary here. Plaintiff was hired by Defendant to work
as a shuttler in 2012. He claims he then worked four days a
week for several weeks before being fired and never received
compensation. Defendant says Plaintiff never worked: when he
was hired, his work authorization was pending, and when it
was not resolved within a month, he was terminated pursuant
to internal procedures.
commenced the instant action in the Circuit Court of the
Eleventh Judicial Circuit in McLean County, Illinois, in
2017. He initially alleged only a claim for unpaid wages. In
December 2017 and January 2018, he filed First and Second
Amended Complaints, adding claims under the Fair Credit
Reporting Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and
the Illinois Constitution; the Title VII and Illinois
Constitution claims alleged he was discriminated against on
the basis of age and national origin. Defendant removed the
suit to this Court, and Plaintiff filed a Third Amended
Court granted in part and denied in part a motion for summary
judgment by Defendant. (Doc. 52). Only the unpaid wage claim
survived. The Court entered an Order resetting the Final
Pretrial Conference for August 7, 2019, but keeping a
previously set September 9, 2019, trial date; the Order also
set a pretrial schedule. (Doc. 53). The parties filed an
agreed motion requesting all pretrial deadlines be stayed and
a telephonic settlement conference be set. (Doc. 54). That
motion was granted by Magistrate Judge Jonathan E. Hawley
(Minute Entry dated 7/10/2019). A settlement conference was
subsequently held, but no settlement reached (Minute Entry
dated 8/20/2019). The day after the settlement conference,
the Court received the instant request. Plaintiff seeks to
amend his complaint to add a claim for unfair dismissal
“to make sure that this important issue is not lost but
addressed fairly in the settlement.” (Doc. 56 at 1).
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure instruct courts to
“freely give leave [to amend] when justice so
requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). “District
courts, nevertheless, ‘have broad discretion to deny
leave to amend where there is undue delay, bad faith,
dilatory motive, repeated failure to cure deficiencies, undue
prejudice to the defendants, or where the amendment would be
futile.' ” Right Field Rooftops, LLC v. Chi.
Cubs Baseball Club, LLC, 870 F.3d 682, 693 (7th Cir.
2017) (quoting Arreola v. Godinez, 546 F.3d 788, 796
(7th Cir. 2008)). The Court notes Plaintiff is proceeding
pro se. “Allegations in pro se pleadings are
to be construed liberally, applying substantially less
stringent standards than those applied to pleadings drafted
by professional counsel.” Kincaid v. Vail, 969
F.2d 594, 598 (7th Cir. 1992).
nearly two years of litigation, three amended complaints, and
a decision on summary judgment, Plaintiff sought leave to
amend his complaint yet again less than a month before the
trial date. Defendant argues leave to amend now would
unfairly prejudice it. (Doc. 57 at 3-4). The Court agrees.
persuasive is Defendant's citation to Murphy v. White
Hen Pantry Co., 691 F.2d 350, 353-54 (7th Cir. 1982).
(Doc. 57 at 3-4). In that case, the Seventh Circuit held a
motion for leave to amend filed six weeks prior to the trial
date, two years after the commencing the action, and several
months after discovery was complete “clearly would have
prejudiced the defendant, who, having successfully defended
against the initial allegations, may have been forced to
duplicate its efforts if discovery were reopened.”
Id. at 353. As here, the plaintiffs in that case
“offered no explanation for their delay in seeking to
amend the complaint” and the proposed new theory of
liability “was not novel and did not depend on facts
discovered late in the discovery process.” Id.
at 353-54. In those respects, Murphy is essentially
identical to the instant situation.
Court finds Defendant would suffer undue prejudice by
allowing amendment at this late hour. The trial date-already
delayed to October 28, 2019 (Text Order dated
08/28/2019)-would likely need to be further delayed, as
Defendant would doubtlessly file a motion to dismiss the new
claim (see Doc. 57 at 4 (asserting Plaintiff
“does not articulate an actionable cause of
action” in his request to amend)) and if that failed, a
motion for summary judgment. New discovery would potentially
be required depending on the precise theory Plaintiff seeks
to proceed under, which is not clear from his request. All of
this would result in costs to Defendant for a claim that
could have been included in any of Plaintiff's four
versions of his complaint. The Court will not permit
amendment under these circumstances.
foregoing reasons, Plaintiff's Request to Amend ...