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Moralez v. Frayne

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

November 20, 2017

JONATHAN MORALEZ
v.
MARK A. FRAYNE, et al.

          ORDER RE: MOTION TO AMEND ANSWER

          HON. SARAH A. L. MERRIAM UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Defendants Mark A. Frayne and Anne Cournoyer (“defendants”) have filed a motion seeking to amend their Answer to add the affirmative defense of release. [Doc. #53]. For the reasons set forth herein, the Court GRANTS defendants' Motion to Amend. [Doc. #53].

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff commenced this action on April 4, 2016, seeking damages stemming from the allegedly improper administration of medication. See Doc. #1. The discovery and dispositive motion deadlines have passed, and a jury trial has been scheduled for April 3, 2018, with the pretrial memorandum due by February 28, 2018. See Doc. #51.

         On October 13, 2017, counsel for defendants discovered that plaintiff and the State of Connecticut had executed a Settlement Agreement and Release (“Agreement”) on February 28, 2017, to resolve plaintiff's prior civil action captioned Jonathan Moralez v. Captain Johnson, et al., 3:15CV1098(JCH). See Doc. ##61 at 2, 61-2 at 2-6. The Agreement contains a release, which states, in relevant part:

The plaintiff ... does herewith forever discharge and release ... the State of Connecticut ... from any and all actions; causes of action, suits, claims, controversies, damages and demands of every nature and kind ... which he had or now has or may hereafter can, shall or may have, for, upon, or by reason of any matter, cause or thing whatsoever from the beginning of the world to the date of this agreement[.]

Doc. #61-2 at 3-4.

         Consequently, defendants filed a motion on October 23, 2017, requesting leave to amend their answer to add the affirmative defense of release. See Doc. #53. Counsel for defendants asserts that she “recently became aware of a Settlement Agreement and Release executed between the plaintiff Jonathan Moralez and the State of Connecticut that completely discharges this action.” Id. at 2. On November 9, 2017, plaintiff filed a response opposing the motion because defendants failed to offer a reasonable justification for the delay in moving to amend and the delay prejudiced plaintiff. See Doc. #60 at 1. On November 8, 2017, the Court entered an Order requiring defendants to “file a copy of the relevant settlement agreement on the docket, along with a representation of how and when counsel for defendants learned of its existence[, ]” Doc. #59, which defendants complied with on November 13, 2017, see Doc. #61.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Rule 15(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that the court “should freely give leave [to amend] when justice so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15. However, “it is within the sound discretion of the district court to grant or deny leave to amend.” McCarthy v. Dun & Bradstreet Corp., 482 F.3d 184, 200 (2d Cir. 2007). “A district court has discretion to deny leave for good reason, including futility, bad faith, undue delay, or undue prejudice to the opposing party.” Id. Nevertheless, “[i]n general, it is a rare event when such leave should be denied.” Tavares v. Lawrence & Mem'l Hosp., No. 3:11CV770(CSH), 2013 WL 1385266, at *2 (D. Conn. Apr. 3, 2013) (quotation marks and citation omitted).

         III. DISCUSSION

         None of the factors that would constitute good reason to deny defendants leave to amend are present in this instance. Plaintiff makes no claim that defendants have acted in bad faith, or that the amendment would be futile. See Doc. #60. However, plaintiff asks the Court to deny the motion due to (1) defendants' insufficient explanation for the delay in moving to amend and (2) the prejudice the amendment would cause plaintiff. Id.

         The Court is not persuaded that defendants' insufficient explanation for their delay in seeking to amend their answer is reason to deny the amendment. Although courts have discretion to consider whether a satisfactory explanation is offered for an inordinate delay, see Grace v. Rosenstock, 228 F.3d 40, 54 (2d Cir. 2000), such an explanation is unnecessary in this instance because plaintiff concedes that “the delay was not inordinately long” and “there is no evidence that defendants intended it[.]” Doc. #60 at 5. Accordingly, the Court does not find that delay is a basis for denial of the motion to amend.

         Plaintiff also asserts that he would be unduly prejudiced if the Court grants leave to amend, because the current scheduling order prevents him from questioning the drafter of the Agreement, Assistant Attorney General Tom Davis, about the parties' intent. See Doc. #60 at 6-7. To determine if plaintiff would be unduly prejudiced, the Court considers “whether the assertion of the new claim 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.” Block v. First Blood Assocs., 988 F.2d 344, 350 (2d Cir. 1993). Courts have also ‚Äúdenied leave to amend as unduly ...


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