United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
OSTEEN, JR., DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the court on Plaintiff's motion for
leave to amend her complaint, (Doc. 17), and Defendants'
combined motion to dismiss the original complaint, (Doc. 15).
For the following reasons, the court finds that the motion to
amend should be granted and the motion to dismiss should be
denied as moot, without prejudice to Defendants filing a new
motion to dismiss the amended complaint.
MOTION TO AMEND
court should freely give leave when justice so
requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2).
[L]eave to amend a pleading should be denied only when the
amendment would be prejudicial to the opposing party, there
has been bad faith on the part of the moving party, or the
amendment would be futile. The Fourth Circuit has held, as
have a number of other circuits, that delay alone is not
sufficient reason to deny leave to amend. The delay must be
accompanied by prejudice, bad faith, or futility.
Johnson v. Oroweat Foods Co., 785 F.2d 503, 509-10 (4th Cir.
1986) (citations and footnote omitted). “Leave to amend
. . . should only be denied on the ground of futility when
the proposed amendment is clearly insufficient or frivolous
on its face.” Id. at 510; see also Davis v.
Piper Aircraft Co., 615 F.2d 606, 613-14 (4th Cir. 1980)
(stating that the absence of prejudice to the non-moving
party alone is typically sufficient to support granting leave
to amend; finding that a proposed amendment is generally not
futile unless it faces an obvious and insurmountable barrier
such as the statute of limitations).
Defendant Thomasville City Schools (“TCS”) argues
that the motion to amend is futile because “Plaintiff
does not make sufficient change that would alter the original
complaint's deficiencies as to plaintiff's state law
tort claims and claims under § 1981 and § 1983,
which are currently the subject of Defendant's Partial
Motion to Dismiss.” (Doc. 21 at 4.) TCS does not,
however, assert that it will suffer any prejudice if the
motion to amend is granted or allege bad faith by Plaintiff.
proposed amended complaint, Plaintiff responds directly to
certain arguments raised in the motion to dismiss. (See,
e.g., Doc. 17-1 ¶ 37 (alleging that Defendants have
waived sovereign or governmental immunity by maintaining
liability insurance; Defendants identified governmental
immunity as grounds for dismissing certain claims).)
Defendants may still be able to argue that the amendments do
not cure these specific deficiencies for reasons other than
those raised in the motion to dismiss. However, on its face,
the proposed amended complaint squarely addresses several
arguments in the motion to dismiss.
also do not assert that the amended claims are futile because
they are obviously barred by any clearly-applicable law or
allege only events outside the statute of limitations.
Plaintiff's proposed amendments are thus not
“clearly insufficient or frivolous” under Fourth
Circuit precedent. Plaintiff's motion to amend is not
futile and the motion will be granted; Plaintiff will be
permitted to file and serve her proposed amended complaint.
MOTION TO DISMISS
Plaintiff's amendments address some of the major
arguments raised in the motion to dismiss, the court believes
that the most expedient way forward is to deny the
currently-pending motion to dismiss as moot and permit
Defendants to file a new motion to dismiss addressing the
amended complaint directly. See, e.g., Branch Banking &
Tr. Co. v. Meridian Holding Co., LLC, Civil Action No.
3:18-0486, 2019 WL 454602, at *2 (S.D. W.Va. Feb. 5, 2019)
(denying a motion to dismiss as moot when amendments went
“to the heart of the alleged legal
deficiencies”); Fox v. City of Greensboro, 1:10-CV-229,
2011 WL 13239927, at *2 (M.D. N.C. Mar. 31, 2011)
(“[F]or the sake of judicial efficiency and to
streamline and focus the analysis in this case, the court
will grant Plaintiffs' motion to amend and deny
Defendants' motions to dismiss as moot and without
prejudice to their being refiled as to Plaintiffs'
have not had a chance to respond substantively to the
proposed amendments. Further, notwithstanding that the
amendments fail to address all grounds for dismissal
identified by Defendants, the court finds it efficient to the
swift resolution of this case to consider the amended
complaint as a whole rather than evaluating the claims
piecemeal. Finally, the court notes that the motion
to amend was filed on February 14, 2019 and that the
parties' joint Rule 26(f) report contemplates that
“Plaintiff should be allowed until April 30, 2019 to .
. . amend pleadings.” (Doc. 22 at 4.)
motion to dismiss will be denied as moot in light of this
court's decision granting leave to amend, without
prejudice to Defendants filing a new motion to dismiss
addressing the amended complaint.