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Yoo v. BMW Manufacturing Co., LLC

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Spartanburg Division

March 29, 2019

Kuk S. Yoo, Plaintiff,
v.
BMW Manufacturing Co., LLC, and Premise Health Employer Solution, LLC, Defendants.

          ORDER

          Timothy M. Cain, United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Kuk S. Yoo originally filed this action against Defendant BMW Manufacturing Co., LLC (“BMW”), alleging violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), 29 U.S.C. § 2601, et. seq., and the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et. seq., and a state law claim for workers' compensation retaliation pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. § 41-8-80. (ECF No. 1-1). BMW removed the action to this court. (ECF No. 1). Plaintiff filed its First Amended Complaint adding Premise Health Employer Solutions, LLC (“Premise Health”), as a defendant and a conspiracy claim against both BMW and Premise Health. (ECF No. 33). Premise Health filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim, or, alternatively, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. (ECF No. 39). Thereafter, on October 2, 2018, Plaintiff filed a response to the motion and requested leave to file a Second Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 45 at 2). This matter is before the court on the magistrate judge's Report and Recommendation (“Report”) allowing Plaintiff to amend his complaint and recommending that the court deny Premise Health's motion to dismiss (ECF No. 39). (ECF No. 51).[1] Premise Health timely filed objections (ECF No. 54), and Plaintiff filed a reply (ECF No. 57). Premise Health then filed a second motion to dismiss. (ECF No. 39). Plaintiff filed a response opposing the motion (ECF No. 60), and Plaintiff filed a reply (ECF No. 62).[2] This matter is now ripe for review.

         I. Background/Procedural History

         Plaintiff worked for BMW for twenty-one years. (ECF Nos. 41 at 5; 56 at 7). Plaintiff alleges that after a work-related injury to his elbow, his physician released him to work without restrictions. (ECF No. 41 at 6). Plaintiff then suffered a separate work-related injury to his lower back and filed for workers' compensation benefits for this injury against BMW. Id. On December 1, 2014, his workers' compensation case was resolved, and BMW was required to pay for Plaintiff's treatment for his work-related back injury. Id. Plaintiff alleges that his personal physician for his back injury released him without any restrictions. Id.

         Premise Health operates a medical facility on BMW's property in Greer, South Carolina. (ECF No. 25-1 at n.1). Plaintiff alleges that at BMW and/or Premise Health's request, he underwent a functional capacity evaluation (“FCE”), which determined he could work without restrictions. (ECF No. 41 at 7). However, despite this FCE, Plaintiff contends that Premise Health's Medical Review Officer, Dr. Kenneth Hommel, placed him on permanent restrictions. Id. BMW then informed Plaintiff that he could no longer work in his current position with the restrictions imposed by Dr. Hommel and BMW would attempt to place him in another position. Id. BMW terminated his employment on December 1, 2016. Id. Plaintiff filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) alleging disability retaliation against BMW. (ECF No. 34 at 5).

         On December 29, 2017, Plaintiff filed this action in state court alleging violations of the FMLA and the ADA, and a state law claim for workers' compensation retaliation pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. § 41-8-80. (ECF No. 1-1 at 6-9). BMW timely removed the action to this court. (ECF No. 1). The deadline to amend the pleadings was June 28, 2018 (ECF No. 22), and on that date, Plaintiff filed a motion to amend the complaint to add Premise Health as a defendant on all the claims and to add a civil conspiracy claim against BMW and Premise Health (ECF No. 23). The magistrate judge granted Plaintiff's motion to amend on August 6, 2018, and Plaintiff filed his first Amended Complaint on August 14, 2018. (ECF Nos. 32, 34). On September 18, 2018, Premise Health filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim, or, alternatively, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. (ECF No. 39). Thereafter, on October 2, 2018, Plaintiff filed a response to the motion and requested leave to file a Second Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 45 at 2). Alternatively, Plaintiff claimed that, because the Second Amended Complaint was filed within twenty-one days of Premise Health's responsive pleading, no motion was required, and the magistrate judge should find that Plaintiff could file his Second Amended Complaint as a matter of right pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 15. Id. at 3.

         In her Report, the magistrate judge found that Plaintiff did not have the right to file a Second Amended Complaint pursuant to Rule 15(a). (ECF No. 51 at 5). However, she nonetheless granted Plaintiff leave to file his Second Amended Complaint and considered the Second Amended Complaint to be the operative complaint. Id. She also agreed with Premise Health that it should not have to file a new motion to dismiss and, thus, she considered Premise Health's motion to dismiss as applying to the Second Amended Complaint. Id. After considering the merits of the motion, she recommended that the court deny Premise Health's motion to dismiss. Id. at 7.

         II. Applicable Law

         A Rule 12(b)(6) motion should not be granted unless it appears certain that the pleading party can prove no set of facts that would support his claim and would entitle him to relief. Mylan Labs., Inc. v. Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993). When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court should accept all well-pleaded allegations as true and should view the complaint in a light most favorable to the pleading party. Ostrzenski v. Seigel, 177 F.3d 245, 251 (4th Cir. 1999); Mylan Labs., 7 F.3d at 1134. “To survive a motion to dismiss, a [claim] must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “A claim has facial plausibility when the [pleading party] pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the [opposing party] is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. The raising of the statute of limitations as a bar to a cause of action constitutes an affirmative defense and may be raised by motion pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) if the time bar is apparent on the face of the complaint. Dean v. Pilgrim's Pride Corp., 395 F.3d 471, 474 (4th Cir. 2005) (citations omitted).

         III. Discussion

         A. Second Amended Complaint

         In its objections, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a), Premise Health contends that the magistrate judge erred in granting Plaintiff leave to file a Second Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 54 at 1-4). Premise Health argues that in the scheduling order the deadline to amend pleadings was June 28, 2018, and Plaintiff filed his Second Amended Complaint three months too late on October 9, 2018. Id. at 2.[3] Therefore, Premise Health contends that, in ruling on the motion for leave to file an amended complaint, the magistrate judge should have used the two-step analysis set forth in Dilmar Oil Company v. Federated Mutual Insurance Company, 986 F.Supp. 959, 980 (D.S.C. 1997). Plaintiff contends that good cause exists for the court to allow him to file the Second Amended Complaint because he sought to address the deficiencies alleged in Premise Health's motion to dismiss. (ECF No. 57 at 2).[4] The court agrees with Premise Health that the magistrate judge should have used the two-step analysis in Dilmar. Accordingly, the court modifies that part of the Report, as discussed below. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(a).

         Rule 15 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs amendments before trial, providing in pertinent part that “[a] party may amend its pleading once as a matter of course within: (A) 21 days of serving it, or (B) if the pleading is one to which a responsive pleading is required, 21 days after service of a responsive pleading[.]” 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.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). “The court should freely give leave when justice so requires.” Id. Under Rule 15, “leave to amend should be denied only when the amendment would be prejudicial to the opposing party, there has been bad faith on the part of the moving party, or amendment would be futile.” Matrix Capital Mgmt. Fund, LP v. BearingPoint, Inc., 576 F.3d 172, 193 (4th Cir. 2009) (internal citations omitted).

         Although Rule 15 directs courts to allow amendment of pleadings freely “when justice so requires, ” after the deadline for amending pleadings set forth in a scheduling order has passed, a party must first demonstrate good cause under Fed.R.Civ.P. Rule 16 for the court to allow the amendment. Nourison Rug Corp. v. Parvizian, 535 F.3d 295, 298 (4th Cir. 2008). “[G]ood cause means that scheduling deadlines cannot be met despite a party's diligent efforts.” Dilmar Oil, 986 F.Supp. at 980 (citation omitted). “[I]f the moving party satisfies Rule 16(b), the movant then ...


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