United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
JOSEPH M. HOOD, District Judge.
This matter is before the Court upon Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint. [D.E. 25]. The motion being fully briefed, and the Court being otherwise sufficiently advised, it is now ripe for review.
I. Procedural Background
On October 1, 2013, Plaintiff Juan Meave filed suit against Rincon Mexicano, Inc., Luis Castillo, and Sergio Budar, alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. §§ 203(m), 206(a), 207(a), and violations of Kentucky's minimum wage law, KRS 337.275. [D.E. 1]. On February 19, 2014, in part, based upon the parties' joint status report, [D.E. 15], the Court entered a scheduling order, requiring Plaintiff to file all motions to amend the pleadings by August 1, 2014 and requiring that all fact discovery be completed by November 1, 2014. [D.E. 16].
On May 21, 2014, Plaintiff filed a motion to amend his complaint, seeking leave to amend the time period for which Plaintiff alleges Defendant failed to pay Plaintiff wages in compliance with the FLSA and Kentucky's minimum wage law. Defendant responded with objections to the motion, [D.E. 29], and Plaintiff filed a timely reply. [D.E. 33].
II. Standard of Review
Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a), "a party may amend its pleading once as a matter of course within 21 days after serving it" or, for pleadings requiring a response, within "21 days after service of a responsive pleading or 21 days after service of a motion under Rule 12(b), (e), or (f), whichever is earlier." Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1). "In 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." Id. 15(a)(2). Leave to amend should freely be given as long as the amended pleading does not involve (1) undue delay; (2) bad faith; (3) repeated failure to cure deficiencies in previous amendments; (4) undue prejudice to the opposing party; or (5) futility of amendment. Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962).
Defendants argue that the Court should deny amendment to Plaintiff's complaint because amendment would be futile, Plaintiff's filing of his motion to amend his complaint was unduly delayed, and amendment of the complaint would prejudice Defendants. Plaintiff argues that the amendment would not be futile due to the relation back doctrine, and that amendment would neither be unduly delayed nor prejudicial. Because Plaintiff's claims under the FLSA are time-barred and because Plaintiff's claims under Kentucky's minimum wage law are not, Plaintiff's motion must be granted in part and denied in part.
1. Futility of Amendment
An amended complaint is typically futile if it cannot withstand a motion to dismiss. Thiokol Corp. v. Dep't of Treasury, State of Mich., Revenue Div., 987 F.2d 376, 383 (6th Cir. 1993). Defendant argues that amendment would be futile because the statute of limitations for bringing a claim based upon the additional period of employment alleged in the amended complaint has run. Plaintiff admits that the claims would be barred by the statute of limitations if determined by the date of the filing of the motion to amend the complaint, but argues that under the relation back doctrine the claims are within the relevant statute of limitations.
"An amendment to a pleading relates back to the date of the original pleading when the amendment asserts a claim or defense that arose out of the conduct, transaction, or occurrence set out - or attempted to be set out - in the original pleading." Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(c)(1)(B). A claim or defense arises out of the conduct, transaction, or occurrence set out in the original pleading if "the party asserting the statute of limitations defense had been placed on notice that he could be called to answer for the allegations in the amended pleading." U.S. ex rel. Bledsoe v. Cmty. Healthy Sys., Inc., 501 F.3d 493, 516 (6th Cir. 2007) (citations omitted). As is exhibited by the discovery responses, Defendants were aware that Plaintiff had been employed by Defendants for periods not included in the complaint, and, thus, were on notice that Plaintiff might seek recovery for any and all violations that occurred during his employment with Defendants. Because the amended complaint merely adds this additional time period, and does not add any additional claims, the Court finds that the amended complaint arises out of the same conduct, transaction, or occurrence. Therefore, relation back is applicable in this matter, and, if allowed, the amended complaint is treated as though it was filed on October 1, 2013.
Plaintiff's amended complaint seeks to add claims for a period of employment from December 15, 2008 to July 12, 2009. Plaintiff's claims under the FLSA have a statute of limitations of, at most, three years. See 29 U.S.C. § 255(a) ("[A] cause of action arising out of a willful violation may be commenced within three years after the cause of action accrued."). The latest date Plaintiff seeks to add for recovery under the FLSA is July 12, 2009, more than four years before Plaintiff filed his original complaint. Therefore, allowing Plaintiff to amend his complaint to add the additional time period for recovery under the FLSA would be futile because, even when allowing the amendment to relate back to the date of the filing of the original complaint, Plaintiff's new claims under the FLSA are barred by the statute of limitations. See 29 U.S.C. § 255(a) (stating that actions not brought with the limitations period are "forever barred"). Accordingly, Plaintiff's motion, as it relates to claims under the FLSA, must be denied.
Conversely, the applicable statute of limitations for Plaintiff's claim under KRS 337.275 is five years. See KRS 413.120(2) ("The following actions shall be commenced within five (5) years after the cause of action accrued: An action upon a liability created by statute, when no other time is fixed by the statute creating the liability."). Thus, from the date Plaintiff filed his original complaint, October 1, 2013, only recovery for improperly paid wages prior to October 1, 2008 would be time-barred. Plaintiff seeks to amend his complaint to add a date of employment from December 15, 2008 to July 12, ...