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Estate of Rennick v. Universal Credit Services LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

August 22, 2019

ESTATE OF JAMES C. RENNICK SR.,
v.
UNIVERSAL CREDIT SERVICES, LLC

          MEMORANDUM RE: MOTION TO STRIKE

         Baylson, J.

          I. Introduction

         This action arises out of a credit report issued by Defendant Universal Credit Services, LLC, which allegedly included false reports from two major credit reporting agencies stating that James C. Rennick, Sr. was deceased when he was still alive. Plaintiff, the Estate of Mr. Rennick, alleges that because of the erroneous credit report, Mr. Rennick was denied a home equity line of credit.

         Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint (ECF 15, “FAC”) more than 21 days after Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss the original Complaint without seeking agreement from opposing counsel or leave of this Court. Presently before this Court is Defendant's Motion to Strike the FAC under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a). For the reasons discussed below, the Motion is GRANTED.

         II. Factual Background and Procedural History

         The Court provided a detailed summary of the factual allegations in its prior Opinion granting in part and denying in part Defendant's Motion to Dismiss the original complaint. (ECF 8 at 2-3.)[1] As the FAC does not add factual allegations, the Court does not repeat the factual background here.

         Plaintiff filed the original Complaint in this case on September 10, 2018 (ECF 1). The original Complaint advanced eight Counts: violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”), 16 U.S.C. § 1681, et seq. (Count I); intentional infliction of emotional distress (“IIED”) (Count II); intrusion upon seclusion (Count III); negligence (Count IV); negligent infliction of emotional distress (“NIED”) (Count V); defamation (Count VI); gross negligence (Count VII); and slander of credit (Count VIII).

         On October 30, 2018, Defendant moved to dismiss Counts II, III, V, and VI of the Complaint for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6) (ECF 2), to which Plaintiff filed a Response on November 27, 2018 (ECF 6). The Court granted the Motion, with prejudice, as to Counts II, III, and V: the IIED, intrusion upon seclusion, and NIED claims (ECF 8, 9). The Court denied the Motion with respect to Plaintiff's defamation claim (Count VI). (Id.) As a result, only Counts I, IV, VI, VII, and VIII remained: the FCRA, negligence, defamation, gross negligence, and slander of credit claims.

         After the Court ruled on the Motion to Dismiss, Defendant filed an Answer to the Complaint on February 4, 2019 (ECF 12). Following a pretrial conference on the same date, the Court issued a Scheduling Order stating that “[a]ny Motion to Amend the Complaint shall be filed as soon as possible.” (ECF 14.)

         On February 22, 2019, Plaintiff filed the FAC (ECF 15). The FAC eliminated Counts II and III of the original Complaint: the IIED and intrusion upon seclusion claims. The FAC retains all other claims, including NIED, which the Court previously dismissed with prejudice. The FAC does not include new factual allegations but advances additional legal allegations in five of the six remaining Counts: the FCRA, NIED, negligence, gross negligence, and slander of credit claims. There are no additional allegations in support of the defamation claim.

         On July 16, 2019, Defendant filed the instant Motion to Strike the FAC, arguing that Plaintiff was not permitted to file an amended Complaint as a matter of course because more than 21 days had passed since Defendant filed the Motion to Dismiss (ECF 20, “Mot.”). Defendant contends that the FAC is a “rogue document” that must be stricken from the docket because Plaintiff did not file a motion for leave to amend or seek written agreement from Defendant, as required by Rule 15(a)(2). (Id. at 8-10.)[2]

         Plaintiff filed a Response in Opposition on July 30, 2019 (ECF 25, “Resp.”). Plaintiff contends that the FAC should not be stricken under Rule 15(a)(1) because it was filed on February 22, 2019, fewer than 21 days after Defendant filed an Answer to the original Complaint on February 4, 2019. (Id. at 1, 5.) Alternatively, Plaintiff requests that this Court permit Plaintiff leave to file the FAC under Rule 15(a)(2) because Defendant failed to demonstrate prejudice from the amendment. (Id. at 1-5.)

         Plaintiff also filed a Motion to Compel discovery responses on July 25, 2019 (ECF 21), which Plaintiff withdrew (ECF 26). On the same date, the parties participated in a settlement conference before Magistrate Judge Strawbridge (ECF 23).

         Plaintiff subsequently filed a Motion to Quash Subpoena on August 13, 2019 (ECF 29). Plaintiff has also filed an unopposed Motion for a Continuance of current pretrial and trial dates (ECF 31). Following an unrecorded telephone conference on August 22, 2019 to ...


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