United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S EXPEDITED,
NON-DISPOSITIVE RULE 7(h) MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE AN AMENDED
ANSWER AND AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSES (DKT. NO. 18) AND EXTENDING
PAMELA PEPPER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
February 26, 2019, defendant National Credit Adjusters, LLC
filed a expedited, non-dispositive motion under Civil Local
Rule 7(h) for leave to file an amended answer and affirmative
defenses. Dkt. No. 18. The plaintiff opposed the motion,
arguing that the defendant's request demonstrated undue
delay and bad faith, and would cause the plaintiff undue
prejudice. Dkt. No. 19. The court will grant the motion to
30, 2018, the plaintiff filed a class action complaint
alleging violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices
Act. Dkt. No. 1. The defendants answered, dkt. no. 5, and on
October 29, 2018, the parties submitted a joint discovery
plan under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(f), dkt. no.
10. Two weeks later, the court approved the plan and issued a
scheduling order setting discovery deadlines. Dkt. No. 11.
The scheduling order included a January 18, 2019 deadline for
parties to amend pleadnigs without leave of the court.
Id. The plaintiff timely filed an amended complaint
on December 26, 2018. Dkt. No. 14. The defendant answered on
January 2, 2019. Dkt. No. 15. The class certification motion
is due by March 15, 2019 and discovery closes on August 2,
February 26, 2019, the defendant filed an expedited,
non-dispositive motion under Civil Local Rule 7(h). Dkt. No.
18. The motion asks leave to file an amended answer with
additional affirmative defenses. Id. Specifically,
the defendant indicates that “defense counsel became
aware of an arbitration agreement Plaintiff entered into with
the original creditor of his account” and wishes to add
this affirmative defense. Id. at 2.
plaintiff opposes the motion. Dkt. No. 19. First, the
plaintiff argues undue delay, stating that the parties had
discussed the defendant's affirmative defenses at a
meet-and-confer, but that the issue of the arbitration clause
had not come up. Id. at 2. The plaintiff states that
if the court allows the defendant to amend the answer,
“the Court will need to simultaneously extend all case
deadlines by 60 days to allow Plaintiff additional time,
” and that this will unduly delay the case.
Id. at 3. Second, the plaintiff argues that the
defendant has requested the amendment in bad faith.
Id. He argues that the defendant has not explained
how it “recently discovered” an alleged
arbitration clause. Id. Finally, the plaintiff
argues that he will be unduly prejudiced if the court grants
leave to amended because he is ready to file his class
certification motion. Id.
Civ. P. 15 governs amendments of pleadings. Once a party has
used its one-time, “matter-of-course” amendment,
further attempts to amend are governed by Rule 15(a)(2),
which provides that “[i]n all other cases, a party may
amend its pleading only with the opposing party's written
consent or the court's leave. The court should freely
give leave when justice so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
15(a). The standard is a liberal one. Runnion ex rel.
Runnion v. Girl Scouts of Greater Chi. & Nw. Ind.,
786 F.3d 510, 520 (7th Cir. 2015). A court may deny leave to
amend in cases of undue delay, bad faith, and/or undue
prejudice to the opposing party. Crest Hill Land Dev.,
LLC v. City of Joliet, 396 F.3d 801, 804 (7th Cir.
plaintiff's proffered opposition to the defendant's
proposed amendment does not overcome the liberal standard for
amending pleadings. The defendant seeks to amend its answer
only a month and a half after the parties' agreed
deadline for amending pleadings without leave of court. True,
the case would have moved more quickly had the defendant
added this affirmative defense before the parties'
meet-and-confer on discovery issues. But the court takes the
defense at its word that it only recently discovered the
existence of an arbitration clause with a previous creditor.
The court cannot consider a forty-five-day delay
“undue” or in bad faith. The
“prejudice” the plaintiff alleges is that he will
have to wait to file his already-prepared class certification
motion, and that all other deadlines will be extended. Given
that the plaintiff says he has his certification motion
prepared, the court does not see how waiting forty-five to
sixty days to file it constitutes “prejudice” in
a civil case in district court.
court finds no undue delay, bad faith or prejudice, and will
grant the defendant's motion.
court GRANTS the defendant's Rule 7(h)
motion for leave to file its amended answer. Dkt. No. 18.
court ORDERS the clerk's office to file
the document at 18-1 as a separate docket entry.
court EXTENDS the deadlines of the November
16, 2018 ...