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Felix v. Guardsmark, LLC

United States District Court, D. Oregon

February 19, 2014

JOHN SAINT FELIX, Plaintiff,
v.
GUARDSMARK, LLC, Defendant.

GERALD NOBLE, Invision Law Firm, Portland, OR, Attorneys for Plaintiff.

MICHAEL J. SANDMIRE, Ater Wynne, LLP, Portland, OR, Attorneys for Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

ANNA J. BROWN, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on the Motion (#12) for Summary Judgment of Defendant Guardsmark, LLC and the Motion (#37) for Leave to Amend Pleading of Plaintiff John Saint Felix.

For the reasons that follow, the Court GRANTS Defendant's Motion (#12) for Summary Judgment, DENIES Plaintiff's Motion (#37) for Leave to Amend Pleading, and DISMISSES this matter with prejudice.

BACKGROUND

The following facts are undisputed unless otherwise noted:

Plaintiff and Defendant entered into an employment agreement (Agreement) on October 26, 2011. Paragraph 19 of the Agreement provides:
All legal disputes between the parties shall be resolved in accordance with the Guardsmark Dispute Resolution Policy [(DRP)].... Except for charges or claims filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or under any of the statutes enforced by said agency, any legal action or proceeding relating to or arising out of this Agreement or the employment of Employee by GUARDSMARK must be brought by Employee within six months of the date the cause of action arose or it shall be time-barred.

Emphasis added.

Plaintiff worked for Defendant as a security officer from November 2, 2011, until Defendant terminated Plaintiff's employment "no later than August 9, 2012." The parties agree Plaintiff's claims in this matter arose no later than August 9, 2012.

Despite reference to a DRP in Paragraph 19 of the Agreement, Defendant did not have such a policy either at the time that Plaintiff signed the Agreement or at any time during Plaintiff's employment. Defendant, however, did not inform Plaintiff that it did not have a DRP at any point during that period.

On February 13, 2013, Plaintiff filed this lawsuit against Defendant in state court[1] alleging causes of action against Defendant for employment discrimination and retaliation pursuant to Oregon Revised Statute § 659A.030 and interference with Oregon Family Medical Leave Act (OFMLA) rights under Oregon Revised Statutes §§ 659A.183 and 659A.159 and retaliation arising from Plaintiff invoking his OFMLA rights. The claims asserted by Plaintiff in this matter do not arise under any statutes enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

On March 15, 2013, Defendant removed this case to this Court. On May 23, 2013, this Court issued a Case Management Order (#10) setting a deadline of October 31, 2013, for the parties to amend their pleadings.

On July 3, 2013, Defendant filed its Motion (#12) for Summary Judgment on the basis that Plaintiff's claims are all time-barred pursuant to Paragraph 19 of the Agreement. The Court heard oral argument on Defendant's Motion (#12) on December 20, 2013.

At oral argument Plaintiff argued for the first time that Defendant should be equitably estopped from relying on a statute of limitations defense because Defendant allegedly failed to provide Plaintiff with a copy of the Agreement on which the Motion is based before June 6, 2013. If he had received a copy of the Agreement from Defendant sooner, Plaintiff argued he could have filed claims against Defendant with the EEOC and thereby effectively extended the time within which the Agreement requires claims to be brought. Based on these new arguments, Plaintiff requested leave of Court to supplement the record in response to Defendant's motion. Because it appeared to the Court that Plaintiff's counsel may not have been aware of information relevant to the period within which the Agreement required Plaintiff to file his claims in this matter, the Court granted Plaintiff's oral motion for leave to supplement his pleadings.[2]

On January 17, 2013, Plaintiff filed a Supplemental Memorandum (#40) in Response to Defendants' Motion as well as his Motion (#37) for Leave to Amend Pleading to add claims against Defendant under 42 U.S.C. § 1988 (Title VII).

The Court took Defendant's Motion (#12) and Plaintiff's Motion (#37) under advisement on February 5, 2014.

PLAINTIFF'S MOTION (#37) FOR LEAVE TO AMEND

I. Standards

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a) provides a party may amend a pleading after a responsive pleading has been filed only by leave of court unless the opposing party consents to the amendment. Rule 15(a), however, also provides leave to amend "shall be freely given when justice so requires." This policy is to be applied with "extreme liberality." Moss v. United States Secret Svc., 572 F.3d 962, 972 (9th Cir. 2009).

The Supreme Court has recognized several factors that a district court should consider when determining whether justice requires the court to grant leave to amend. Those factors include

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 allowance of the amendment, futility of the amendment.

Eminence Capital, LLC v. Aspeon, Inc., 316 F.3d 1048, 1052 (9th Cir. 2003)(quoting Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962)).

II. Discussion

A. Plaintiff's Proposed Amendment

Plaintiff requests leave to amend his Complaint to add claims for discriminatory reprimands/discipline, retaliation, and discriminatory termination under Title VII and to include a prayer for attorneys' fees pursuant to Title VII. Plaintiff contends he failed to assert these claims sooner because Defendant improperly withheld a copy of the Agreement until June 6, 2013, ...


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