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Ke v. Drexel University

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

April 10, 2014

LEI KE, Plaintiff,
v.
DREXEL UNIVERSITY, et al., Defendants.

OPINION

JOEL H. SLOMSKY, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

In the instant action, Plaintiff asserts claims of discrimination and retaliation because of his Chinese ethnicity against Drexel College of Medicine ("DCM") and five individual Defendants. (Doc. No. 135 at 1.) On January 5, 2014, more than two years after the commencement of this case, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Leave to Add Defendants. (Doc. No. 352.) Specifically, Plaintiff requests to join six more defendants to this case. For reasons that follow, the Court will deny Plaintiff's Motion.

II. BACKGROUND

In the fall of 2008, Plaintiff began medical school at DCM. Sometime after his second year, he was dismissed and then readmitted on a conditional status to retake his second year. (Doc. No. 29-4 at 45.) On January 3, 2011, during Plaintiff's third year of medical school, Plaintiff was notified that he had failed both the Family Medicine rotation and the Family Medicine shelf exam.[1] (Doc. No. 29 at ¶ 29.) Plaintiff also failed the Step 1 exam.[2] On February 10, 2011, Plaintiff took the Step 1 exam for a second time and failed. (Id. ¶ 45.) On February 14, 2011, Plaintiff received a letter from DCM placing certain conditions on his continued enrollment, including receipt of at least a "Satisfactory" grade on all required exams. (Doc. No. 29-4 at 45.) Plaintiff then received a grade of "Marginal Unsatisfactory" on his OB/GYN shelf exam and was dismissed from DCM in accordance with the February 14, 2011 letter. (Id. at 46.)

On October 26, 2011, Plaintiff commenced the instant action. (Doc. No. 1.) In his Third Amended Complaint, filed on July 30, 2013, Plaintiff asserts claims of discrimination and retaliation against DCM. (Doc. No. 135 at ¶1.) In addition, Plaintiff names the following six individuals as Defendants: (1) John Fry, President of Drexel University; (2) Dr. Richard Homan, Dean of DCM; (3) Dr. Samuel Parish, Dean of Student Affairs at DCM; (4) Dr. Amy Fuchs, Associate Dean of Student Affairs of DCM; (5) Dr. Jennifer Hamilton, Director of the Family Medicine Clerkship at DCM; and (6) Dr. Anthony Sahar, a preceptor at DCM. (Id. at 6-12.) Plaintiff alleges that these individual Defendants were involved in his dismissal from DCM. The Court subsequently dismissed John Fry as a defendant. (Doc. Nos. 69, 158.) The other five individual Defendants remain in this case. They were named as Defendants in the original Complaint, filed on October 26, 2011.

On January 5, 2014, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Leave to Add Defendants in this case. (Doc. No. 352.) Specifically, Plaintiff seeks to join an additional six defendants: (1) Dr. Barbara Schindler, Professor and Vice Dean for Educational and Academic Affairs at DCM; (2) Dr. Eugene Hong, Head of the Department of Family Medicine at DCM; (3) Dr. John Dalton, Plaintiff's supervisor during his Family Medicine rotation; (4) David Ruth, Dean of Students at Drexel University; (5) Joseph Salomone, University Registrar for Drexel University; and (6) John Gyllenhammer, Esquire, Associate Vice President and Chief Counsel for Drexel University and DCM. (Doc. No. 363 at ¶¶ 1-5.) Defendants oppose the joinder of these individuals. (Doc. No. 363.) The Motion is now ripe for a decision by this Court.

III. ANALYSIS

A. Standard of Review

Plaintiff seeks leave to add six defendants to this case and cites Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 15(c) as the basis for his request.[3] Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a) allows a party to amend a complaint upon leave of court. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a). As with any motion to amend, the issue is left to the sound discretion of the trial judge. Cureton v. Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Ass'n , 252 F.3d 267, 272 (3d Cir. 2001). "The tenor of Rule 15 is to permit amendment, subject to the trial judge's denial if the amendment would not be in the interest of justice." Moore's Federal Practice § 20.02(2)(a).

When a party seeks to add claims against a new defendant after the applicable statute of limitations has run, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(c) governs. Under Rule 15(c), amendment is permitted when it "relates back" to the date of the filing of the original complaint and the amendment is in the interest of justice under Rule 15(a). See, e.g., Wine v. EMSA Ltd. P'ship , 167 F.R.D. 34 (E.D. Pa. 1996). Rule 15(c) states:

(1) An amendment to a pleading relates back to the date of the original pleading when:
(A) the law that provides the applicable statute of limitations allows relation back;
(B) the amendment asserts a claim or a defense that arose out of the conduct, transaction, or occurrence set out - or attempted to be set ...

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