United States District Court, D. Maryland
DEBORAH K. CHASANOW, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
pending and ready for resolution in this employment
discrimination case is a motion filed by Plaintiff Nikki
Webber Allen (“Plaintiff”) for leave to file an
amended complaint and serve additional discovery requests.
(ECF No. 47). The issues have been briefed, and the court now
rules, no hearing being deemed necessary. Local Rule 105.6.
For the following reasons, Plaintiff's motion will be
complete recitation of the factual background can be found in
the court's prior memorandum opinion denying the motion
to dismiss filed by Defendant TV One, LLC
(“Defendant” or “TV One”).
(See ECF No. 27, at 1-8). Plaintiff filed a charge
of discrimination and retaliation with the U.S. Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”)
against Defendant in 2014. (ECF Nos. 16 ¶ 6; 59-1).
After the EEOC issued Plaintiff a Right to Sue letter,
Plaintiff timely initiated this action in the Superior Court
of the District of Columbia on May 13, 2015, against
Defendant, Catherine Hughes, and Alfred Liggins. (ECF No.
1-1, at 4). Ms. Hughes, TV One's founder, chairperson,
board member, and television show host, is also the
chairperson and founder of TV One's parent company, Radio
One, Inc. (“Radio One”), as Plaintiff noted in
her EEOC charge. (ECF No. 59-1, at 2 & n.1; see
also ECF Nos. 2, at 2). Mr. Liggins, Ms. Hughes'
son, is or was Chief Executive Officer and President of both
TV One and Radio One. (See ECF Nos. 47-1, at 4; 59,
at 2). Defendant removed this action to the United States
District Court for the District of Columbia based on federal
question jurisdiction over claims brought under Title VII of
the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), 42
U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. (ECF No. 1), and moved to
dismiss the complaint for improper venue or, in the
alternative, transfer venue to the United States District
Court for the District of Maryland (ECF No. 7). Subsequently,
the parties filed a joint stipulation agreeing to transfer
the case to this court (ECF No. 8), and the case was
transferred (ECF No. 9).
28, 2015, Plaintiff filed a two-count amended complaint
against Defendant, removing the individual defendants. (ECF
No. 16). In Count I, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant
discriminated against her on the basis of her gender in
violation of Title VII. Plaintiff contends that Defendant
fostered “a hostile work environment that included,
among other things, severe and pervasive harassment.”
(Id. ¶ 82). Count II contains allegations that
Defendant retaliated against Plaintiff in violation of Title
VII. Plaintiff's employment was terminated in June 2014
after she had a dispute with Ms. Hughes and filed a complaint
of gender discrimination and harassment with TV One's
human resources department. Plaintiff seeks compensatory and
punitive damages, as well as declaratory and injunctive
proposed second amended complaint, Plaintiff now seeks to
name Radio One as an additional defendant to the two Title
VII claims brought against TV One. Plaintiff avers that
recent discovery has revealed for the first time that Radio
One's human resources department was involved in the
investigation of her complaint and the decision to terminate
her employment. (See ECF No. 47-1, at 4). Under the
original scheduling order, the deadline for the amendment of
pleadings was March 28, 2016. (ECF No. 30). The parties'
request for an extension of the scheduling order was
subsequently approved, extending the deadline for amendment
until May 27, 2016. (ECF Nos. 31; 32). Plaintiff filed the
pending motion for leave to amend on August 23, 2016, three
days before discovery was scheduled to close and nearly three
months after the scheduling order's extended
deadline. (ECF No. 47). Defendant responded in
opposition (ECF No. 59), and Plaintiff replied (ECF No. 69).
Standard of Review
Plaintiff filed her motion for leave to amend well past the
deadline established by the scheduling order for the
amendment of pleadings (ECF Nos. 31; 32), she must do more
than satisfy the liberal standard of Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a); she
must first meet the mandates of Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(4), which
requires “good cause” to modify a scheduling
order. See Nourison Rug Corp. v. Parvizian, 535 F.3d
295, 298-99 (4th Cir. 2008); Elat v.
Ngoubene, 993 F.Supp.2d 497, 519-20 (D.Md. 2014)
(applying a two-prong test under Rules 16(b)(4) and 15(a) in
analyzing an untimely motion for leave to amend). “A
schedule may be modified only for good cause and with the
judge's consent.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(4); see
Nourison, 535 F.3d at 298 (“[D]istrict courts
require the effective case management tools provided by Rule
16. Therefore, after the deadlines provided by a scheduling
order have passed, the good cause standard must be satisfied
to justify leave to amend the pleadings.”).
satisfy the good cause requirement, the movant must show
that, despite due diligence, she could not have brought the
proposed claims in a reasonably timely manner. See
Montgomery v. Anne Arundel Cty., Md., 182 F.App'x
156, 162 (4th Cir. 2006) (“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.”); Rassoull v. Maximus, Inc., 209
F.R.D. 372, 374 (D.Md. 2002); Potomac Elec. Power Co. v.
Elec. Motor Supply, Inc., 190 F.R.D. 372, 375 (D.Md.
1999). The factors courts consider in determining good cause
are the “danger of prejudice to the non-moving party,
the length of delay and its potential impact on judicial
proceedings, the reason for the delay, and whether the movant
acted in good faith.” Tawwaab v. Va. Linen Serv.,
Inc., 729 F.Supp.2d 757, 768-69 (D.Md. 2010) (quoting
Rothenberg v. Marriott Int'l, Inc., No.
CCB-08-173, 2008 WL 687033, at *1 (D.Md. Feb. 29, 2008)). As
Judge Williams explained, “Courts in the [United States
Court of Appeals for the] Fourth Circuit deny leave to amend
a complaint past the deadline established by a scheduling
order where the moving party has been careless in developing
his claims or where he has failed to satisfactorily account
for his failure to do so.” Id. at 769. The
dictates of Rule 16(b) are not to be taken lightly, as
“a judge's scheduling order ‘is not a
frivolous piece of paper, idly entered, which can be
cavalierly disregarded by counsel without peril.'”
Potomac Elec., 190 F.R.D. at 375 (quoting
Gestetner Corp. v. Case Equipment Co., 108 F.R.D.
138, 141 (D.Me.1985)).
16(b) is not satisfied, there is no need to consider Rule
15(a). See Nourison, 535 F.3d at 299. Once the
movant has met the burden of showing good cause, however, the
inquiry shifts to Rule 15(a), which provides that a
“court should freely give leave [to amend a pleading]
when justice so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2).
Denial of leave to amend is appropriate “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.” Edwards
v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 242 (4th
Cir. 1999) (quoting Johnson v. Oroweat Foods Co.,
785 F.2d 503, 509 (4th Cir. 1986)).
to Plaintiff, it was only during discovery conducted after
the deadline for amending the pleadings that she learned of
the extent to which TV One and Radio One's human
resources departments interacted. Based on the depositions of
Ms. Hughes, Mr. Liggins, and a TV One employee, conducted
between July 20 and August 10, 2016, Plaintiff now alleges
that Radio One's former head of human resources Jackie
Kindall and Radio One's executive vice president and
chief administrative officer Linda J. Vilardo investigated
her discrimination complaint and made the retaliatory
decision to fire her. (ECF No. 47-1, at 4-5). Plaintiff
argues that she was unaware at the time of the deadline of
Radio One's “close involvement in the unlawful
actions taken against the Plaintiff during her tenure at
Defendant TV One.” (Id. at 10). In
Plaintiff's argument that leave to amend should be
granted under Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2), she also states that
there would be no prejudice to TV One from allowing the
amendment, and that she did not act in bad faith.
(Id. at 11-12).
has not demonstrated that the reason for her delay justifies
a departure from the rules set in the scheduling order, and
accordingly has failed to establish good cause for modifying
the scheduling order under Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b). Rule 16(b)
focuses on the timeliness of the proposed amendment and the
reasons behind its tardy submission, and in particular,
requires the movant to show that he acted diligently.
Rassoull, 209 F.R.D. at 374. Lack of diligence and
carelessness are the “hallmarks of failure to meet the
good cause standard.” W.Va. Hous. Dev. Fund v.
Ocwen Tech. Xchange, Inc., 200 F.R.D. 564, 567
(S.D.W.Va. 2001). Defendant identified Ms. Kindall and Ms.
Vilardo as having been “involved in the decision to
terminate Plaintiff's employment, ” and as
“knowledgeable regarding the decision to terminate
Plaintiff's employment” in its answer to
Plaintiff's first set of interrogatories, served on April
26, 2016. (ECF No. 47-4, at 7, 9-10, 24). Ms.
Vilardo was identified as a Radio One employee, and contact
information was provided for Ms. Kindall, who was no longer
employed at Radio One at the time of Defendant's
response. (Id. at 7; ECF No. 59, at 4).
Plaintiff may have discovered further evidence of Radio
One's involvement during the later depositions, but she
was plainly informed that at least one Radio One employee was
involved in the decision to terminate her employment well
before the deadline for amendment of the
pleadings. See Crouch v. City of
Hyattsville, Md., No. DKC 09-2544, 2012 WL 718849, at *4
n.7 (D.Md. Mar. 5, 2012) (“[T]o amend his complaint,
Plaintiff need not have waited until he had all the evidence
he needed to prove his claims.”).
had ample opportunities to name Radio One as a defendant,
before and after receiving the interrogatory responses. A
month elapsed between Defendant's answer to the
interrogatories and the scheduling order deadline, during
which time Plaintiff could have moved to amend or moved for
another extension of the scheduling order if she needed more
time for discovery to determine whether Radio One should have
been named as a defendant. Instead, Plaintiff apparently did
not take any action to investigate the role these Radio One
employees played in her termination, or even notice their
depositions, for months. (See ECF Nos. 59-5; 59-6
(deposition notices to Ms. Vilardo and Ms. Kindall dated
August 16, 2016)). Accordingly, because Plaintiff failed to
establish that she exercised diligence in seeking leave to
amend the complaint, she has not satisfied the requirements
of Fed.R.Civ.P. 16. Without good ...