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Koehler v. Freightquote.Com, Inc.

United States District Court, Tenth Circuit

July 26, 2013

NANCY KOEHLER, et. al, Plaintiffs,
v.
FREIGHTQUOTE.COM, INC., Defendant.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

GERALD L. RUSHFELT, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

This matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs’ Motion for Leave to File a Second Amended Complaint (ECF 42). Defendant opposes the motion (ECF 53). The motion is fully briefed and the Court is prepared to rule. As described more fully below, the Court grants Plaintiffs’ motion.

I. Background

Plaintiffs filed the original Complaint, alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), on August 3, 2012. The Amended Complaint, naming additional Plaintiffs, was filed on November 16, 2012. On March 29, 2013, the Court entered a Scheduling Order (ECF 39) adopting the parties’ proposed deadline of March 14, 2013, to add parties and/or amend the pleadings. On April 12, 2013, Plaintiffs filed the instant motion, seeking leave to amend their complaint to add claims against the Defendant and to add a party. Specifically, Plaintiffs seek to add a claim pursuant to the Kansas Wage Payment Act (“KWPA”), K.S.A. § 44-312 et seq., to further include a claim brought pursuant to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended (“ERISA”), 29 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq.; and to add the Freightquote 401(k) Plan (“Plan”) as a party.

II. Standards

While Fed.R.Civ.P. 15 governs amendments to pleadings generally, when the deadline for amending pleadings has passed Rule 16(b)(4) is also potentially implicated.[1] Rule 16(b)(4) provides that a scheduling order “may be modified only for good cause and with the judge’s consent.” Rule 16 only allows such amendments for “good cause, ” an arguably more stringent standard than the standards for amending a pleading under Rule 15. Judges in this District have consistently applied a two-step analysis based on both Rule 16(b) and Rule 15(a), when deciding a motion to amend that is filed after the deadline set by the scheduling order. Under this approach the Court must first determine whether Plaintiff has shown good cause within the meaning of Rule 16(b)(4) to justify allowing the untimely motion. If the Court determines that Plaintiff has established good cause, then the Court will proceed to determine if the Rule 15(a) standard for amendment has been satisfied.[2]

To establish good cause under Rule 16(b)(4), “the moving party must show that the amendment deadline could not have been met even if it had acted with due diligence.”[3]Carelessness is not compatible with a finding of diligence and offers no reason for a grant of relief.”[4] Lack of prejudice to the nonmovant, furthermore, does not show “good cause.”[5] The good cause determination is within the district court’s discretion, and will be reviewed only for abuse of discretion.[6]

If the movant establishes good cause, then the Court will proceed to determine if the Rule 15(a) standard for amendment has been satisfied. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15 governs amendments to pleadings generally. Except when an amendment is pleaded as a “matter of course, ” as defined by the rule, “a party may amend its pleading only with the opposing party’s written consent or the court’s leave.”[7] Courts must “freely give leave when justice so requires.”[8]“Refusing leave to amend is generally only justified upon a showing of undue delay, undue prejudice to the opposing party, bad faith or dilatory motive, failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, or futility of amendment.”[9]

“Rule 15 . . . was designed to facilitate the amendment of pleadings except where prejudice to the opposing party would result.”[10] Courts will typically only find prejudice when an amendment unfairly affects non-movants “‘in terms of preparing their [response] to the amendment.’”[11] “However, the expenditure of time, money, and effort alone is not grounds for a finding of prejudice.”[12]

III. Discussion

A. KWPA

Plaintiffs argue they were uncertain whether the requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 23 for maintaining a class action were present when they filed their Amended Complaint (ECF 6). Since then they have learned from opt-in plaintiffs and through communications with Defendant that those elements should be met and for that reason Plaintiffs seek leave to add their claim under the KWPA.

The KWPA gives employees the right to receive all “wages due” and concerns how and when those wages are paid.[13] Rather than providing substantive rights, the KWPA provides a mechanism for recovering wages due.[14] Plaintiff argues that the FLSA is the legal basis for Plaintiffs’ claims and to the extent Defendant is required under the FLSA to compensate its employees for certain activities or time periods for which Defendant has not been compensating employees, then the KWPA class in this case may recover those amounts under the KWPA.[15]

Defendant acknowledges that Plaintiffs’ KWPA claims are based on facts identical to those allegedly giving rise to Plaintiffs’ FLSA claims.[16] Defendant agrees that the KWPA does not provide additional substantive rights, but instead merely provides another mechanism for recovering the same wages. Defendant argues that all the KWPA amendment would accomplish is to require Defendant ...


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