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John G. v. Northeastern Educational Intermediate Unit 19

February 1, 2008

JOHN G. AND GLORIA G., AS PARENTS AND NATURAL GUARDIANS OF A MINOR, J.M.G., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
NORTHEASTERN EDUCATIONAL INTERMEDIATE UNIT 19, SUSAN COMERFORD WZOREK, THE SCHOOL DISTRICT OF ABINGTON HEIGHTS, FRED R. ROSETTI, ED.D., CLARENCE LAMANNA, ED.D., DAVID ARNOLD, ED.D., WILLIAM MCNULTY, AND MARIELLEN SLUKO, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Caputo

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion for Leave to File a Second Amended Complaint, or in the alternative, for Reconsideration of the Court's November 3, 2007 Order. (Doc. 78.) For the reasons set forth below, the motion to amend will be granted in part and denied in part.

BACKGROUND

The Plaintiffs' original Complaint was filed on May 23, 2006. (Doc. 1 Ex. 1.) Plaintiffs filed their First Amended Complaint on September 6, 2006. (Doc. 1 Ex. 2.) On September 26, 2006, Defendants filed a notice of removal from the Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania to this Court, based on Plaintiffs' inclusion of federal causes of action in their Amended Complaint. (Doc. 1.) Defendants filed three (3) motions to dismiss, and this Court granted in part and denied in part those motions on May 15, 2007. (Docs. 5, 6, 7, 26.) Defendant Susan Comerford Wzorek filed her Answer with Affirmative Defenses to the First Amended Complaint on December 5, 2007. (Doc. 74.) Defendants Northeastern Educational Intermediate Unit 19 ("NEIU"), Fred Rosetti, and Clarence Lamanna filed their Answer with Affirmative Defenses to the First Amended Complaint on December 7, 2007. (Doc. 76.)

On October 25, 2007, the Plaintiffs filed their Second Amended Complaint, which was stricken by Order of the Court on December 3, 2007 for failure to follow Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(2) and Local Rule of Civil Procedure 15.1. (Docs. 63, 73.)

On December 14, 2007, Plaintiffs filed the present Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint. (Doc. 78.) Plaintiff's proposed Second Amended Complaint contains twelve (12) counts, which include both new counts and counts that were previously included in the First Amended Complaint. (Doc. 78 Ex. 2.)

This motion is fully briefed and ripe for disposition.

LEGAL STANDARDS

I. Motion to Amend Complaint

Under Rule 15(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, "a party may amend the party's pleadings . . . by leave of court . . . and leave shall be freely given when justice so requires." FED. R. CIV. P. 15(a). While Rule 15 liberally allows leave to amend be "freely given," district courts have the discretion to deny a motion for leave to amend where it is apparent from the record that: (1) there is undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive; (2) the amendment would be futile; or (3) the amendment would prejudice the other party. See Lake v. Arnold, 232 F.3d 360, 373 (3d Cir. 2000).

It is within the sound discretion of the trial court to determine whether a party shall have leave to amend pleadings out of time. See Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962); Heyl & Patterson Int'l, Inc. v. F.D. Rich Housing, 663 F.2d 419, 425 (3d Cir. 1981). However, "[i]n the absence of any apparent or declared reason -- such as undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on the part of the movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing party by virtue of the allowance of the amendment, futility of the amendment, etc. -- the leave sought should, as the rules require, be 'freely given.'" Foman, 371 U.S. at 182.

In the Third Circuit, the touchstone for the denial of leave to amend is undue prejudice to the non-moving party. See Heyl, 663 F.2d at 425; Cornell & Co., Inc. v. OSHRC, 573 F.2d 820, 823 (1978). Merely claiming prejudice, however, is not enough to prevent the leave from being granted. See Heyl, 663 F.2d at 426. The non-moving party "must show that it was unfairly disadvantaged or deprived of the opportunity to present facts or evidence which it would have offered had the [moving party's] amendments been timely." Id. When the motion for leave to amend is made before trial begins, prejudice vel non generally turns on whether the non-moving party would be able, without undue burden, to conduct any additional discovery necessitated by the amendment. See, e.g., Dole v. Arco Chemical Co., 921 F.2d 484, 488 (3d Cir. 1990) (possibility that some additional discovery would be required was not unduly prejudicial).

II. Motion for Reconsideration

A motion for reconsideration is governed by Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which allows a party to move to alter or amend a judgment within ten days of entry. FED. R. CIV. P. 59(e). The purpose of a motion for reconsideration is to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence. Harsco Corp. v. Zlotnicki, 779 F.2d 906, 909 (3d Cir.1985). A judgment may be altered or amended if the party seeking reconsideration establishes at least one of the following grounds: "(1) an intervening change in controlling law; (2) the availability of new evidence that was not available when the court granted the motion for summary judgment; or (3) the need to correct a clear error of law or fact or to prevent manifest injustice." Max's Seafood Café, by Lou-Ann, Inc., v. Quinteros, 176 F.3d 669, 677 (3d Cir.1999). "A motion for reconsideration is not to be used as a means to reargue matters already argued and disposed of or as an attempt to relitigate a point of disagreement between the Court and the litigant." Ogden v. Keystone Residence, 226 F. Supp.2d 588, 606 (M.D. Pa. 2002). "[R]econsideration motions may not be used to raise new arguments or present evidence that could have been ...


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