United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia, Charleston Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
E. JOHNSTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is the Motion for Discretionary Review filed
by Plaintiff Michael Ellis. (ECF No. 56.) The motion is
Court had occasion to discuss the factual and procedural
background of this case in its Memorandum Opinion and Order
of September 26, 2016. That discussion need not be repeated
here at length. To summarize, Plaintiff is a former employee
of the Kanawha County Public Library (the
“Library”). He brings this lawsuit challenging
certain conditions of his employment and subsequent
termination. As Plaintiff proceeds pro se, this action is
referred to United States Magistrate Judge Dwane L. Tinsley
for pretrial proceedings.
instant Motion for Discretionary Review relates to the
Magistrate Judge's adjudication of Plaintiff's Motion
for Leave to File an Amended Complaint. The Magistrate Judge
denied the Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint by
Order entered January 31, 2017. In doing so, the Magistrate
Judge observed that the Second Amended Complaint-the pleading
Plaintiff proposed to file-reasserted many claims alleged in
the Amended Complaint but also alleged new claims for
violations of the West Virginia Wage Payment and Collection
Act (“WPCA”). Finding that the Second Amended
Complaint would not rectify the deficiencies previously
identified in the Amended Complaint, the Magistrate Judge
denied leave to amend as futile. The Magistrate Judge added
that the WPCA claims were previously adjudicated in West
Virginia state court and are barred by the doctrine of res
made no effort to challenge the Magistrate Judge's
decision until May 2, 2017, when he filed the Motion for
Discretionary Review. The Library filed a response in
opposition and the matter is now ready for disposition.
statute, a magistrate judge is authorized to adjudicate any
non-dispositive pretrial matter pending before the district
court. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)A). A party must file
objections to a magistrate judge's non-dispositive order
within fourteen days of being served with a copy.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a). When it comes to orders on
non-dispositive matters, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
preclude a party from “assign[ing] as error a defect in
the order not timely objected to.” Id. A
motion for leave to amend a complaint is a non-dispositive
matter. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) (defining
dispositive matters to include motions for “injunctive
relief, for judgment on the pleadings, for summary judgment,
to dismiss or quash an indictment or information made by the
defendant, to suppress evidence in a criminal case, to
dismiss or to permit maintenance of a class action, to
dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted, an to involuntarily dismiss an action”);
see also Fielding v. Tollaksen, 510 F.3d 175, 178
(2d Cir. 2007) (finding a motion to amend the complaint is a
non-dispositive motion falling under Rule 72(a));
Continental Cas. Co. v. Dominick D'Andrea, Inc.,
150 F.3d 245, 251 (3d Cir. 1998) (construing a motion to
amend as non-dispositive); Stonecrest Partners, LLC v.
Bank of Hampton Roads, 770 F.Supp.2d 778, 782-83 (E.D.
N.C. 2011) (same).
Magistrate Judge triggered the fourteen-day period for
objections by denying Plaintiff's motion to amend.
Plaintiff failed to submit timely objections. Moreover, he
made no effort to request an extension of the objection
deadline or explain why he allowed several months to pass
before challenging the Magistrate Judge's decision. Rule
72(a) prevents him from doing so now.
concedes all this but asserts that a district judge retains
the authority to review a magistrate judge's decision
whether or not an objection is filed. He asks the Court to
exercise its discretion to review and overturn the Magistrate
Judge's Order. Even if the Court maintains the discretion
to review the unchallenged order of a magistrate judge on a
non-dispositive matter, see Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S.
140, 154 (1985), the Court sees no reason to employ that
discretion in this case. The Magistrate Judge's decision
to deny leave to amend is insulated by a highly deferential
standard of review. A district court may not set aside an
order on a non-dispositive pretrial matter unless the ruling
is “clearly erroneous” or “contrary to
law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a). Further, the rule governing
Plaintiff's motion to amend itself vests the Magistrate
Judge with considerable discretion in granting leave to amend
the pleadings. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a). Coupled with the factual
circumstances of this case, these deferential standards
counsel against the Court's interference with the
Magistrate Judge's Order. The Court thus declines
Plaintiff's invitation to undertake discretionary review.
foregoing reasons, Plaintiffs Motion for Discretionary Review
is DENIED. (ECF No. 56.)
Court DIRECTS the Clerk to send a copy of
this Order to counsel of ...