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Trinkle v. Hammer Trucking, Inc.

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

February 7, 2018

DARROLL C. TRINKLE Plaintiff,
v.
HAMMER TRUCKING, INC. and ROBERT NIETHAMMER, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO AMEND [#16]

          Denise Page Hood Chief Judge, United States District Court

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff filed the instant cause of action on December 15, 2016. Following a scheduling conference on March 20, 2017, a Scheduling Order was issued that provided for a discovery cut-off of August 21, 2017. On August 23, 2017, the Court entered a stipulated order extending the discovery cut-off date to October 24, 2017, and on November 20, 2017, the Court entered a stipulated order extending the discovery cut-off date again, this time to December 28, 2017. On November 20, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Amend Complaint. [Dkt. No. 16] Defendants have filed a response, and a hearing on the Motion to Amend Complaint was held on January 10, 2018. For the reasons that follow, the Court grants Plaintiff's Motion to Amend Complaint.

         II. PLAINTIFF'S PROPOSED AMENDMENTS

         Plaintiff worked as a truck driver for Defendant Hammer Trucking, Inc. In his Complaint, he states that he worked for Defendant Hammer Trucking from August 2000 until July 31, 2013. Plaintiff sued Defendants for alleged ERISA retaliation, in violation of 29 U.S.C. § 1140. Plaintiff's allegations stem from the end of his employment by Defendant Hammer Trucking. Plaintiff alleges that he was terminated by Defendant Hammer Trucking after he withdrew $10, 000 from the “Hammer Trucking, Inc. 401(k) Profit Sharing Plan (“Plan”), an employee pension benefit plan within the meaning of ERISA. Plaintiff alleges he withdrew the money from the Plan on July 31, 2014, and on August 1, 2014, Defendant Robert Neithammer called him, “scolded him for withdrawing funds from the Plan, discharged him from his employment with Defendant Hammer Trucking, and cancelled all his fringe benefits, including but not limited to his 401K Plan.” [Dkt. No. 1 at ¶ 20]

         Plaintiff seeks to amend his Complaint to correct allegations that erroneously described relevant events as occurring in the wrong year and to flush out his ERISA violation claim to include both retaliation and interference. Plaintiff states that the amendments are based upon information learned during discovery exchanges, including responses to discovery requests and depositions (including deposition exhibits). Many of the amendments include citations to such discovery materials. Plaintiff asserts that he is not adding new claims or parties and there is no undue delay or unfair prejudice, nor are the amendments futile, as he is just clarifying and correcting his original claim based on the discovery information. Plaintiff also indicates that because medical records have come in slowly, he has agreed to let Defendants depose him further on medical records.

         III. APPLICABLE LAW & ANALYSIS

         A. Rule 15(a)

         In a case where a responsive pleading has been filed, a party may amend its pleading only with the written consent of the opposing party or by leave of the Court. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). Defendants do not concur in Plaintiff's motion, so it is within the Court's discretion whether to grant Plaintiff's motion for leave to file an amended complaint. Pursuant to Rule 15(a)(2), “leave shall be freely given when justice so requires.” The factors a court is to consider when determining whether to permit a plaintiff to file an amended complaint are:

(1) the delay in filing the motion,
(2) the lack of notice to the other party,
(3) bad faith by the moving party,
(4) repeated failure to cure deficiencies by previous ...

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