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Duby v. Shirley Mays Place, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

March 16, 2017

JASON DUBY, Plaintiff,
v.
SHIRLEY MAY'S PLACE, LLC, and DENISE A. WALSH, Defendants.

          Elizabeth A. Stafford United States Magistrate Judge.

          OPINION AND ORDER: 1) SUSTAINING PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTIONS (ECF NO. 26) 2) REVERSING THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S ORDER (ECF NO. 25); AND 3) GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT (ECF NO. 11)

          Paul D. Borman United States District Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs Objections to the Magistrate Judge's February 24, 2017 Order Denying Plaintiffs Motion For Leave to File Second Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 26, Objections; ECF No. 25, Order.) The Court has reviewed the Magistrate Judge's Order and Plaintiffs Objections. The Court will sustain Plaintiffs Objections, reverse the Order, and grant Plaintiffs Motion for Leave to File a Second Amended Complaint.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff originally filed this action on April 21, 2016, alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq., and the Michigan Workforce Opportunity Wage Act (“MWOWA”), M.C.L. 408.411 et seq. (ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint five days later. (ECF No. 4, Am. Compl.)

         On April 29, 2016, individual Defendant Denise Walsh successfully petitioned for a state-court personal protection order (“PPO”) against Plaintiff, who is also her son, stating in the petition that she was in fear for her life. (ECF No. 11, Exs. 3-4.) The PPO was terminated by a joint stipulation of Plaintiff and Defendant Walsh on June 13, 2016. (ECF No. 11, Ex. 7.)

         On August 31, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Leave to File a Second Amended Complaint, which would add a retaliation claim under 29 U.S.C. § 215(a)(3) to the action. (ECF No. 11.) The Magistrate Judge issued an Order denying the Motion on February 24, 2017. (ECF No. 25, Order.) The Court now addresses Plaintiffs Objections to that Order. (ECF No. 26, Pl.'s Objs.)

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         When a party objects to a magistrate judge's determination of a non-dispositive issue, the district court may modify or set aside the Magistrate Judge's decision if it was “clearly erroneous or contrary to law.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a). “[A] finding is ‘clearly erroneous' when although there is evidence to support it, the reviewing court on the entire evidence is left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed.” United States v. U.S. Gypsum Co., 333 U.S. 364, 395 (1948) (explaining the clearly erroneous standard under Rule 52(a)); Hagaman v. Comm'r of Internal Revenue, 958 F.2d 684, 690 (6th Cir 1992) (quoting U.S. Gypsum Co.).

         This standard does not allow a reviewing court to reverse a magistrate judge's finding merely because it would have decided the matter differently. See Anderson v. City of Bessemer City., N.C. , 470 U.S. 564, 573 (1985) (interpreting the clearly erroneous standard in Rule 52(a)). “The ‘clearly erroneous' standard applies only to the Magistrate Judge's factual findings; his legal conclusions are reviewed under the plenary ‘contrary to law' standard.” Haworth, Inc. v. Herman Miller, Inc., 162 F.R.D. 289, 291 (W.D. Mich. 1995) (citing Gandee v. Glaser, 785 F.Supp. 684, 686 (S.D. Ohio 1992), aff'd 19 F.3d 1432 (6th Cir. 1994)). The reviewing court must therefore employ “independent judgment with respect to the Magistrate Judge's conclusions of law.”[1] Id.

         III.ANALYSIS

         The Magistrate Judge denied Plaintiffs Motion for Leave to File a Second Amended Complaint on the basis of futility, having concluded that the retaliation claim in Plaintiffs proposed Second Amended Complaint failed to state a claim under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). The Court finds this conclusion to be contrary to law, and for this reason the Court will reverse the Magistrate Judge's Order and grant Plaintiffs motion for leave to amend.

         A. Futility is a permissible basis for denial of a motion for leave to amend.

         Plaintiff first argues that leave to amend was improperly denied in this case because there was no indication that granting it would result in “undue delay, prejudice to the opposing party, or repeated failure to cure deficiencies in the complaint, ” or that there was “at least some significant showing of prejudice to the opponent, ” as required under Sixth Circuit precedent to justify a denial of leave to amend. (Pl.'s Objs. at 6 (citing Phelps v. McClellan,30 F.3d 658, 662 (6th Cir. 1994) and Duggins v. Steak'N Shake, Inc.,195 F.3d 828, 834 (6th Cir. 1999).) Sixth Circuit precedent, however, demonstrates that these requirements are not rigid or exhaustive, and that courts may also deny leave to amend on the basis of futility. “Although [Rule 15] encourages courts to give leave to amend ‘when justice so requires, ' courts need not give leave to amend when doing so would be futile.” SFS Check, LLC v. First Bank of Delaware, 774 F.3d 351, 355 (6th Cir. 2014). “A proposed amendment is futile where it would not withstand a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim.” Kreipke v. Wayne State Univ.,807 F.3d 768, 782 (6th Cir. ...


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