United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia, Huntington Division
SEAN C. COLLINS, Plaintiff,
LOWE'S HOME CENTERS, LLC, and SCOTT HORSFIELD, individually and as Manager of Lowe's Home Centers, LLC, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
C. CHAMBERS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is Plaintiff Sean C. Collins' Motion for
Leave to Amend Complaint and to Add Additional Defendant. ECF
No. 65. For the following reasons, the Court
DENIES the motion.
December 2, 2016, Plaintiff was terminated from his
employment with Defendant Lowe's Home Centers, LLC.
Thereafter, on March 16, 2017, Plaintiff filed this action,
alleging his termination interfered with his rights under the
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), constituted
discrimination and retaliation for exercising his rights
under the FMLA, violated the West Virginia Human Rights
Act's (WVHRA) prohibition against disability
discrimination, was retaliatory in violation of West Virginia
public policy, and violated West Virginia's Wage and
Payment Collection Act. On June 28, 2017, the parties
stipulated to dismiss the Wage and Payment Collection Act
claim. In addition, on December 7, 2017, the Court dismissed
Plaintiff's claim of retaliatory discharge (the
Harless claim) premised upon the WVHRA. Collins
v. Lowe's Home Centers, LLC, No. 3:17-1902, 2017 WL
6061980, at *1 (S.D. W.Va. Dec. 7, 2017). Thus, at this
point, Plaintiff's remaining claims implicate the FMLA
and disability discrimination.
current motion, however, Plaintiff seeks to amend his
Complaint to add a new defendant and a new theory of his
case. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that in November 2016
he spoke with John Osborn, a Director of Human Resources at
Lowe's, about Defendant Scott Horsfield, the store
manager where Plaintiff worked. Proposed Am. Compl.
at ¶¶ 4, 5, & 17. ECF No. 65-4. During the
conversation, Plaintiff alleges he reported to Mr. Osborn
“that Defendant Horsfield had discriminated and/or
harassed female employees of Lowe's.” Id.
at ¶17. Plaintiff asserts that Mr. Osborn
“routinely protected Defendant Horsfield from various
complaints that were made against him, ” and Mr. Osborn
told Defendant Horsfield what Plaintiff said. Id. at
¶¶ 64-65. Shortly after this conversation occurred,
Plaintiff alleges Mr. Osborn told Defendant Horsfield to fire
him. Id. at 65. Plaintiff's new theory is that
his termination was in retaliation for him reporting
Defendant Horsfield's conduct, and he seeks to add Mr.
Osborn as a defendant. Id. at ¶¶67-77.
counsel asserts that they did not know about this information
until after Plaintiff was deposed on October 23, 2017. At his
deposition, Plaintiff was questioned about notes from the
meeting he had with Mr. Osburn, which were disclosed by
Defendant on October 20, 2017. Tr. of Depo. of Sean
Collins, at 91-95, ECF No. 71-1. These notes apparently were
taken by another Lowe's employee who was in the room with
Plaintiff and Mr. Osburn. The notes appear to be a detailed
account of the conversation. In reading the notes, it is
evident that the vast majority of the conversation involved
personality conflicts and work issues unrelated to any claim
that Defendant Horsfield had discriminated against and/or
harassed female employees. At one point, the notes provide
that Plaintiff said: “There was some craziness here at
the store around that time where Scott [Horsfield] was
accused of some things, 2 weeks later he fired those
associates after he was found not guilty.”
Interview with Sean Collins, at 1, ECF No. 71-2.
current motion, counsel states that, “[f]ollowing his
deposition, Plaintiff shared with counsel that he was
referring to two women in the report, one whom was
transferred and the other terminated, following the
investigation involving alleged inappropriate relationships
with Defendant Horsfield.” Mot. for Leave to Am.
Compl. and to Add Additional Def., at ¶6. After
learning this information for the first time, Plaintiff's
counsel represent that they began an investigation.
Id. at ¶7. On February 15, 2018, Plaintiff
deposed Defendant Horsfield and questioned him about the two
female employees. Id. at ¶9. At the deposition,
Defendant Horsfield said that Lowe's investigated him for
allegedly having a sexual relationship with the two women,
and he denied the allegations. Tr. of Depo. of Scott
Horsfield, at 109, 110, & 113, ECF No. 71-3.
Defendant Horsfield also stated that one of the women was
fired sometime later for falsifying time and the other woman
transferred to another store to be closer to home.
Id. at 111 & 114.
Plaintiff sought additional discovery from Defendants related
to Defendant Horsfield's alleged affairs with the two
women. On April 5, 2018, Defendants objected to the discovery
and filed a Motion for a Protective Order, arguing it was not
related to Plaintiff's FMLA or disability discrimination
claims. A week later, on April 12, 2018, Plaintiff
filed the current motion to amend. A week after filing that
motion, Plaintiff responded to Defendants' Motion for a
Protective Order. In his Response, Plaintiff argued, inter
alia, that the discovery issues are now moot because he has
sought to amend the Complaint to add a claim of retaliation
and to add Mr. Osburn as a defendant. Resp. on behalf of
Sean Collins, at 1, ECF No. 67. In opposing
Plaintiff's motion, Defendant argues Plaintiff cannot
meet the standards for amendments under either Rule 16(b) or
15(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
respect to the proposed amendment,  the Court entered a
Scheduling Order on June 6, 2017, setting an August 10, 2017
deadline for amended pleadings. When, as here, a plaintiff
seeks to amend a complaint after the deadline has passed, the
plaintiff must satisfy the requirements of both Rule 16(b)
and Rule 15(a). Pursuant to Rule 16(b)(4), “[a]
schedule may be modified only for good cause and with the
judge's consent.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(4). On the
other hand, Rule 15(a) provides that “[t]he court
should freely give leave when justice so requires.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a), in part.
applying these Rules, district courts have used a two-step
analysis: “‘(1) the moving party must satisfy the
good cause standard of Rule 16(b), and (2) if the movant
satisfies Rule 16(b), the movant then must pass the tests for
amendment under Rule 15(a).'” Matheny v. L.E.
Myers Co., No. 2:16-CV-09304, 2018 WL 1095584, at *2
(S.D. W.Va. Feb. 26, 2018) (quoting 3-16 Moore's Federal
Practice—Civil § 16.13 (2015); other citation
omitted). “Rule 16(b)'s good cause standard focuses
on the timeliness of the amendment and the reasons for its
tardy submission; the primary consideration is the diligence
of the moving party.” Montgomery v. Anne Arundel
Cty., 182 Fed.Appx. 156, 162 (4th Cir. 2006) (citation
omitted). If a plaintiff demonstrates “good cause,
” the motion still may be denied under Rule 15(a)
“where it would be prejudicial, there has been bad
faith, or the amendment would be futile.” Nourison
Rug Corp. v. Parvizian, 535 F.3d 295, 298 (4th Cir.
2008) (citation omitted). Ultimately, whether to grant a
motion for leave to amend rests within this Court's
discretion. Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182
case, the Court finds Plaintiff has failed to act diligently
and has not established a good cause reason for his delay. At
the time he was terminated on December 2, 2016, Plaintiff
knew he had just recently complained to Mr. Osburn about
Defendant Horsfield. Plaintiff asserts he told Mr. Osburn
about sexual misconduct. Despite having this knowledge,
Plaintiff apparently failed to mention the event to his
counsel until after his deposition in October of 2017,
approximately seven months after he filed his Complaint. Once
counsel learned of this information, however, a motion to
amend was not filed for another five months, which was nearly
two months after Defendant Horsfield was deposed. It was not
until Defendants opposed discovery on issues related to the
alleged sexual misconduct as being beyond the scope of the
original Complaint that Plaintiff decided to seek amendment.
At that point, it was thirteen months after the original
complaint was filed and eight months after the deadline set
forth in the Scheduling Order. Additionally, it was filed
just two months prior to the deadline for dispositive
Court finds the delay here is directly attributable to
Plaintiff's own lack of diligence. Although
Plaintiff's counsel argue they were actively
investigating Plaintiff's new potential claim after they
learned of it, it does not excuse the fact that Plaintiff
himself failed to give them the information until after his
deposition. Moreover, once counsel was informed, it was still
months before an amendment was sought. At the very latest,
Plaintiff was aware at the time of Defendant Horsfield's
deposition of the names of women allegedly involved in the
affairs. Additionally, Defendant Horsfield stated during his
deposition that he denied the allegations when he was
questioned as a part of an internal investigation by
Defendant Lowe's, and Defendant Horsfield gave an
explanation of why the women were no longer working at his
store. Despite this knowledge, Plaintiff did not file his
motion for another two months. Under these circumstances, the
Court finds Plaintiff's motion falls far short of what is
required under Rule 16(b)'s good cause standard. Having
found Plaintiff failed to act diligently and satisfy the
requirements of Rule 16(b)(4), it is unnecessary for the
Court to analyze his motion under Rule 15(a).
for the foregoing reasons, the Court DENIES
Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Amend Complaint and to
Add Additional Defendant. ECF No. 65.
Court DIRECTS the Clerk to send a copy of
this Order to counsel of record and ...