United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
Cyerra R. Springer, Plaintiff,
Megan Brennan, Postmaster General of United States, Defendant.
OPINION & ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN
PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO AMEND
F. COX UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
Cyerra R. Springer (“Plaintiff”) is an employee
of the United States Postal Service. Plaintiff brought this
action against Defendant Megan Brennan, Postmaster General of
the United States, asserting that she was discriminated
against based upon her race and light-skinned complexion, and
her gender, in violation of Title VII, and faced a hostile
work environment, and that she was retaliated against for
having asserted her rights under Title VII.
matter is currently before the Court on Plaintiff's
motion - filed nearly a full year after she filed this action
- seeking leave to file an amended complaint. In her proposed
First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff would add two new counts:
1) a count to clarify that her gender harassment claim
includes a claim for sexual harassment (her proposed Count
VI); and 2) an assault claim against a new Defendant, Post
Office Manager Jeanette Powell (her proposed Count VII). The
Government only opposes the motion to the extent that it adds
an assault claim. The parties have briefed the issues and the
Court heard oral argument on June 26, 2018. For the reasons
set forth below, the Court shall GRANT THE MOTION IN PART AND
DENY IT IN PART. The Court shall GRANT the motion to the
extent that it will grant Plaintiff leave to file an amended
complaint in order to assert her proposed Count VI. The Court
shall DENY Plaintiff's request to assert an assault claim
in this action because: 1) Plaintiff unreasonably delayed
bringing this claim, as she was aware of the basis of it when
she filed her original suit and waited two full months after
her own deposition before seeking to add a new party to this
case; 2) the assault claim is futile as to Powell in her
individual capacity because she was acting within the scope
of her federal employment and she is therefore immune under
the Westfall Act, which would require any claim, if one can
be brought, to be brought against the United States; and 3)
amendment to assert an assault claim against the United
States, or against Powell in her official capacity, would be
futile because the Federal Tort Claims Act excepts assault
claims from coverage.
is an employee of the United States Postal Service. On May 3,
2017, Plaintiff brought this action against Defendant Megan
Brennan, Postmaster General of the United States, asserting
that she was discriminated against based upon her race and
light-skinned complexion, and her gender, in violation of
Title VII, and faced a hostile work environment, and that she
was retaliated against for having asserted her rights under
Scheduling Order in this matter provides that discovery
closed on May 4, 2018, and that dispositive motions were due
by June 18, 2018.
February 21, 2018, Plaintiff's deposition was taken.
Plaintiff's Counsel asserts that “[d]uring her
deposition, Plaintiff testified to events that amount to
assault” by Jeanette Powell while the two women were
working at the post office. (Pl.'s Br. at 2). The
relevant portion of Plaintiff's deposition testimony is
And so I'm walking over there. And I see Jeanette at the
supervisor desk. And when I saw her I sped up because I
didn't want her to say anything to me. And she called my
name. And I ignored her. And then she called it again. And I
turned around. And she said, are you working over here. And,
you know, she put me over here, you know, I'm working
over here. And I said yes. And I continued to walk.
And then she called me again. She said, I need to assign you
to a machine. And I said, you know, I've already got an
assignment. I kept walking. And that's when she stopped
me. She got very irate. And she said, you need to wait a
minute. Ryan is below me. I'm in charge. And she's
jumping her hands at me. And like her head is just moving up
and down and she's stepping towards me. I backed up. I
wouldn't look at her because I thought I was going to be
attacked . . .
And she did this on several occasions. She was very irate.
She was very con- every conversation was very
confrontational. I thought, you know, I was scared.
Q. When you say she was jumping her hands at you what do you
A. Like she was like jumping like.
Q. So you're moving your arms up and down?
A. Yeah. Like if you were, if you were in public and you saw
someone yelling at you, swearing at you and jumping you in
this way, you would probably get ready to defend yourself and
call the police.
Q. Was she raising her arms in any way?
A. No. They were just probably stayed, probably reached her
face, if anything.
Q. Did she ball up her fists?
A. Not that I can recall.
Q. Did she draw back like she was getting ready to hit you?
A. Not that - her arms were moving back but she - not that -
not a particular draw back like I was going to be struck.
Q. Did she say anything to you physically threatening? Like
I'll kick your ass, I'm about to hit you, anything
that made you think she was about to engage in physical
A. No. It was only her body language. She was yelling and
swearing at me about the job. But she was - her body language
showed that she was getting ready to fight me.
. . . .
Q. Did she ever make physical contact with you?
Q. Did she touch you in any way? Did she physically contact
Q. Did she ever physically threaten you, by verbally?
A. No, not verbally saying, you know, like you said, I'm
going to kick your ass, no.
(Pl.'s Dep. at 88-90 & 109).
Counsel states that, after the February 21, 2018 deposition
ended, she notified defense counsel that she would be
amending the complaint to add an assault claim against
Powell. (Id. at 3). She states that she
“indicated that the amendment would not take place
until after the deposition transcript was received to assure
accurately updated facts.” (Id.).
however, Plaintiff's May 3, 2017 original complaint
already contained a general version of the factual
allegations to which she testified to during her deposition
and even used the word “assault” to describe
Powell's conduct towards her:
30. Powell verbally reprimanded and assaulted
Plaintiff, “Cyerra this is unacceptable! It should not
have taken you guys this f***ing long to finish second pass
and a carrier route. Pull this s**t down now?” Powell
stood over Plaintiff and her partner ...