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Raju v. Murphy

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Southern Division

October 31, 2018

Seshadri Raju Plaintiff,
v.
Erin Murphy Defendant.

          Before Carlton W. Reeves, District Judge

          ORDER DENYING MOTION TO AMEND

          Carlton W. Reeves, United States District Judge

         Before the Court is Dr. Seshadri Raju's motion for leave to file a first amended complaint. Docket No. 89. The proposed amendment adds a party, Medtronic Vascular, Inc. (“Medtronic”), and six substantive claims. The additional claims include: (1) civil RICO, (2) theft of trade secrets, (3) tortious interference with contract, (4) civil conspiracy, (5) unfair competition by misappropriation, and (6) intrusion and unauthorized access to a computer network. Also before the Court is Dr. Erin Murphy's motion to strike Dr. Raju's surrebuttal. Docket No. 116. Dr. Murphy contends that the proposed amendment should be denied for failure to show good cause under Rule 16(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP), improper joinder of a party under Rule 20 of the FRCP, and futility.

         For the reasons below, the motion to amend is denied without prejudice, and the motion to strike is moot.

         I.

         Good Cause

         “Once a scheduling order has been entered by the Court, the decision to allow an amended complaint is controlled by Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b), rather than the often quoted Rule 15.” Alford v. Kuhlman Corp., No. 3:07-CV-756-HTW-LRA, 2010 WL 1257844, at *1 (S.D.Miss. March 26, 2010) (citing S &W Enters. v. Southtrust Bank, 315 F.3d 533 (5th Cir. 2003)). Rule 16(b) provides that a scheduling order cannot be modified without a showing of good cause and the judge's consent. The Court determines whether good cause is shown by considering: “(1) the explanation for the failure to timely move for leave to amend; (2) the importance of the amendment; (3) potential prejudice in allowing the amendment; and (4) the availability of a continuance to cure such prejudice.” Id. (brackets omitted).

         The motion to amend deadline was October 16, 2017. Dr. Raju asserts that he did not timely move to amend because he was not aware of facts giving rise to the proposed additional claims or Medtronic's participation until he received discovery on June 27, 2018. He then moved to amend within a month of receiving discovery, on July 18, 2018. The discovery consists of emails that purportedly reveal, among other things, a conspiracy to obtain Dr. Raju's trade secrets and confidential information. Dr. Murphy argues that because Dr. Raju did not seek this evidence until four months after the motion to amend deadline, and did not ask for an extension when the scheduling order was first amended, there is no valid explanation for Dr. Raju's delay. Furthermore, Dr. Murphy argues that Dr. Raju was aware of Dr. Murphy's relationship with Medtronic at the time the original Complaint was filed.

         Dr. Murphy's argument is without merit. The purpose of the motion to amend deadline is to require the plaintiff to include any and all claims and parties that the plaintiff knows or should know of at the time the Complaint is filed. There is no requirement that the plaintiff ask for discovery before the motion to amend deadline expires. Even if he had, Dr. Raju would not have received the discovery before the deadline as a protective order was in place.[1]

         Dr. Raju asserts that the basis of the proposed additional claims were not known to him before discovery. As such, Dr. Raju has put forth a valid explanation for the failure to timely move to amend.

         Dr. Murphy states that she will be prejudiced as she will incur additional expenses and in light of the inevitable litigation resulting from the addition of a party. Those concerns, however, yield to Raju's justifications for adding the new party. Should the Court find that appropriate claims may be brought against Medtronic, a new scheduling order will be entered.

         Accordingly, there is good cause to amend the complaint.

         II.

         Proper ...


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