United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma
OPINION AND ORDER
H. Payne United States District Judge.
the Court are Plaintiff's “Notice of Request to
Amend Original Complaint” (Doc. No. 10),
Plaintiff's “Request for Amendments to Original
Plaintiff's Charges” (Doc. No. 14), and
Plaintiff's “Request for a Ruling on the Motion to
Amend” (Doc. No. 28). Plaintiff, proceeding pro
se and in forma pauperis (“IFP”),
seeks to amend his EEOC Complaint (Doc. No. 1) to add several
new defendants and new causes of action. After consideration
of the briefs, and for the reasons stated below,
Plaintiff's request to amend is DENIED.
originally filed suit on June 15, 2016, against Defendant
Independent School District No. 1 of Tulsa County, Oklahoma
(“School District”),  based on alleged wrongful
termination that occurred on or about August 28, 2015. (Doc.
No. 1). The EEOC Complaint alleges Plaintiff is a
“[m]ixed race (White-Black)” man. (Id.).
Plaintiff alleges “Tulsa Public Schools and its
employees created a hostile workplace for me and conspired to
wrongfully terminate me because of my mixed race
ethnicity.” (Id.). Plaintiff attaches a
“right to sue” letter from the EEOC. The School
District filed an Answer to the Complaint on August 19, 2016.
(Doc. No. 8).
September 6, 2016, Plaintiff filed a “Notice of Request
to Amend Original Complaint” (Doc. No. 10), but he did
not attach the proposed amendment. The filing was docketed as
a Motion to Amend Complaint. On September 16, 2016, the
School District filed a Response to the Motion to Amend,
indicating it was not contacted by the Plaintiff regarding
the proposed amendment nor did he provide any information to
the School District about the proposed amendment. (Doc. No.
12). For those reasons, the School District declined to state
a position with respect to the Motion to Amend.
October 4, 2016, Plaintiff filed a “Request for
Amendments to Original Plaintiff's Charges” (Doc.
No. 14), which the Court docketed as a second Motion to Amend
Complaint. In the proposed amendments, Plaintiff asks to add
three defendants to the lawsuit: (1) School District
Superintendent Deborah A. Gist, (2) Webster High School
Principal Shelby Holman, and (3) Webster High School
Assistant Principal Ryan Buell. It is unclear whether
Plaintiff seeks to add these defendants in their official
and/or their individual capacities. The proposed amendments
also include a detailed “Facts” section and four
causes of action. The First Cause of Action is alleged
against the School District and Principal Holman for
“purposefully announcing the Plai[n]tiff called into
Webster High a bomb threat with the intention of having the
Plaintiff arrested and charged with a felony.” (Doc.
No. 14, ¶¶ 33-34, 36-44). The Second Cause of
Action is alleged against Principal Holman and Assistant
Principal Buell for “purposefully withholding from the
Plaintiff his students' IEPs and forcing the Plaintiff to
teach his students in a federally mandated unacceptable
manner which could ultimately leave the Plainti[ff] and TPS
libel [sic].” (Id. ¶¶ 45-55). The
Third Cause of Action is brought against Principal Holman and
Assistant Principal Buell, alleging that “TPS and
Webster High creat[ed] a hostile workplace for the
Plaintiff” based on his mixed-race and age.
(Id., ¶¶ 4, 56, 65). Finally,
Plaintiff's Fourth Cause of Action, brought against
Superintendent Gist, alleges that his one-year contract with
the School District was unjustly terminated. (Id.,
scheduling conference held on October 19, 2016, the Court
granted the School District an extension of time to respond
to the second Motion to Amend. (Doc. No. 17). On November 30,
2016, the School District filed an opposition to
Plaintiff's request to amend his Complaint (Doc. No. 20).
After Plaintiff failed to appear at a second scheduling
conference held on December 28, 2016, the Court entered an
order to show cause within fourteen days why the case should
not be dismissed for failure to prosecute. (Doc. No. 23).
Plaintiff responded to the Court's order to show cause on
January 10, 2017 (Doc. No. 24), and on March 31, 2017, the
Court found Plaintiff's response provided good cause
(Doc. No. 27). On May 22, 2017, Plaintiff filed a
“Request for Ruling” on his motion to amend.
(Doc. No. 28). On May 23, 2017, Plaintiff filed a
“Response to Defendant's Opposition to
Plaintiff's Motion to Amend Complaint, ” in which
he agrees to withdraw some of his proposed amendments. (Doc.
No. 29). The Court has not yet entered a scheduling order in
Applicable Legal Standard
Rule of Civil Procedure 15 governs amendments to pleadings
generally. Under Rule 15, a party is allowed to amend a
pleading once “as a matter of course” within:
“(A) 21 days after serving it, or (B) if the pleading
is one to which a responsive pleading is required, 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.'” Bylin v. Billings, 568 F.3d 1224,
1229 (10th Cir. 2009) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2)).
“The rule instructs courts to ‘freely give leave
when justice so requires.'” Id. (quoting
Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2)). The Rule's purpose “is to
provide litigants the maximum opportunity for each claim to
be decided on its merits rather than on procedural
niceties.” Minter v. Prime Equip. Co, 451 F.3d
1196, 1204 (10th Cir. 2006) (quotation omitted). Therefore,
“[r]efusing leave to amend is generally only justified
upon a showing of undue delay, undue prejudice to the
opposing party, bad faith or dilatory motive, failure to cure
deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, or futility of
amendment.” Frank v. U.S. West, Inc., 3 F.3d
1357, 1365 (10th Cir. 1993) (citations omitted). “A
court properly may deny a motion for leave to amend as futile
when the proposed amended complaint would be subject to
dismissal for any reason.” Bauchman for Bauchman v.
W. High Sch., 132 F.3d 542, 562 (10th Cir. 1997).
School District points out, Plaintiff's motions to amend
present a procedural dilemma, because his first attempt to
amend the Complaint, filed on September 6, 2016, was within
the time frame allowed under Rule 15(a)(1)(B) to amend the
Complaint “as a matter of course.” However, the
Court was unable to construe the amendment as one filed
“as a matter of course, ” both because Plaintiff
styled his filing as a “Notice of Request to Amend
Original Complaint, ” and because Plaintiff failed to
attach the amendments to the filing. (See Doc. No.
10). Plaintiff did not file his proposed amendments until
October 4, 2016, which is outside of the period for amendment
as a matter of course.
Court finds it need not resolve the dilemma, however, because
Plaintiff's proposed amendments, whenever filed, are
subject to the requirements of the IFP statute, 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915. Section 1915 “is designed to ensure that
indigent litigants have meaningful access to the federal
courts.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319,
324 (1989). “Congress recognized, however, that
a litigant whose filing fees and court costs are assumed by
the public, unlike a paying litigant, lacks an economic
incentive to refrain from filing frivolous, malicious, or
repetitive lawsuits.” Id. To prevent such
abusive litigation, the statute requires federal courts to
dismiss a case sua sponte that is filed IFP if,
among other reasons, the action fails to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted. 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B)(ii); see also Stafford v. United
States, 208 F.3d 1177, 1179 n.4 (10th Cir. 2000).
standard to dismiss under § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is the
same as the standard used under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6). Kay v. Bemis, 500 F.3d 1214,
1217-18 (10th Cir. 2007). To withstand dismissal, a complaint
must contain enough allegations of fact “to state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007). The plaintiff bears the burden to frame “a
complaint with enough factual matter (taken as true) to
suggest” that he or she is entitled to relief.
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556.
Court further notes that, while pro se pleadings
must be liberally construed and must be held to less
stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers,
Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), a
district court should not assume the role of advocate.
Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir.
1991). Moreover, even pro se plaintiffs are required
to comply with the “fundamental requirements of the
Federal Rules of Civil and Appellate Procedure.”
Ogden v. San Juan County, 32 F.3d 452, 455 (10th
Cir. 1994). The court “will not supply additional
factual allegations ...