Googerdy v. N.Car. Agr. and Technical State Univ., No. 1:04CV00212.

Decision Date24 August 2005
Docket NumberNo. 1:04CV00212.
Citation386 F.Supp.2d 618
CourtU.S. District Court — Middle District of North Carolina
PartiesAshgar GOOGERDY, Plaintiff, v. NORTH CAROLINA AGRICULTURAL AND TECHNICAL STATE UNIVERSITY, Defendant.

Thomas Barstow Kobrin, Greensboro, NC, for Plaintiff.

Joyce S. Rutledge, Kimberly D. Potter, N.C. Department of Justice, Raleigh, NC, for Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION and ORDER

OSTEEN, District Judge.

Plaintiff Ashgar Googerdy, a former professor of Defendant North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University ("A & T"), brought suit in the Superior Court of the State of North Carolina, Guilford County, alleging claims for discrimination based on national origin and/or race and breach of contract. After Plaintiff amended his complaint to clarify that his claim for discrimination was brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq., as amended; 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (" § 1983"); and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (" § 1981"), Defendant removed the suit to this court under federal question jurisdiction. This matter is now before the court on Defendant's motion to dismiss the amended complaint and Plaintiff's motion to further amend his complaint. For the reasons set forth herein, Plaintiff's motion will be denied and Defendant's motion will be granted in part and denied in part.

I. BACKGROUND1

Plaintiff Googerdy, who is a resident of Greensboro, North Carolina, is of Iranian descent. In August 2000, Defendant A & T, a Greensboro university which is part of the University of North Carolina system, hired Plaintiff as an adjunct professor in the engineering department under a nine-month renewable term employment contract. On or about October 26, 2000, Plaintiff received a letter from Defendant, signed by Joseph Monroe, Dean of the College of Engineering. The letter appointed Plaintiff an Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering under a new four-year term employment contract effective January 1, 2001, through December 31, 2004 ("Appointment Letter").

On June 12, 2002, despite being an excellent instructor and drastically increasing student performance, Dean Monroe notified Plaintiff that he was not recommended to return for the 2002-03 school year. Nevertheless, Plaintiff continued to teach at A & T during the summer sessions. In the last week of July, however, Plaintiff learned his fall courses had been reassigned. As a result, during a conversation with Dean Monroe, on August 5, 2002, Monroe told Plaintiff he was terminated.

In response, Plaintiff left a letter at the office of Provost Carolyn Meyers on August 8, explaining his termination, attaching a copy of the Appointment Letter, and requesting an emergency meeting. When Plaintiff did not hear from Provost Meyers, he sent a letter to Chancellor James Renick disputing his termination. On August 29, 2002, Plaintiff received a response letter from Defendant signed by Dean Monroe and copied to Chancellor Renick and Provost Meyers. Therein, Monroe asserted he did not sign nor authorize his signature on the Appointment Letter and that Plaintiff had never been appointed to a four-year term as associate professor. Instead, Monroe explained Plaintiff was always an adjunct professor and A & T had decided not to renew his nine-month adjunct professor contract for the 2002-03 school year.

II. PROCEDURAL POSTURE

Plaintiff brought suit in the Superior Court of the State of North Carolina, Guilford County, alleging discriminatory termination based on his national origin and/or race and that Defendant breached his four-year employment contract. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss in which it contended Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies, Defendant was protected by sovereign immunity, and Plaintiff failed to plead the statutes underlying his cause of action for discrimination. In response to Defendant's motion, Plaintiff moved to amend his compliant to add claims for wrongful discharge and deprivation of Plaintiff's constitutional rights under the North Carolina Constitution, and to clarify that Plaintiff's discrimination claim was brought under Title VII, § 1983, and § 1981. Shortly thereafter, Superior Court Judge Burke issued an order denying Defendant's motion to dismiss and granting Plaintiff's motion to amend.

When Plaintiff amended his complaint to clarify that his discrimination claim was founded in federal law, Defendant removed the case to this court under federal question jurisdiction. Defendant answered the amended complaint and then moved for dismissal. Therein, Defendant argues, among other things, that Plaintiff's § 1983 claim should be dismissed because Defendant, as an agency of the State of North Carolina, is not a "person" subject to suit under § 1983. See Will v. Michigan Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 92, 109 S.Ct. 2304, 2323, 105 L.Ed.2d 45 (1989). Plaintiff opposes Defendant's motion to dismiss and, as to the § 1983 claim, argues that any deficiency is procedural and easily remedied by amendment. Plaintiff moves to further amend his complaint to add Chancellor Renick and Dean Monroe as defendants.

The parties' motions are now fully briefed and pending before the court. Because the court's decision on Plaintiff's motion to amend will undoubtedly affect Defendants' motion to dismiss, the court will address amendment first.

III. MOTION TO AMEND
A. Standard of Review

Amendments to a complaint after a responsive pleading has been served may only be made by leave of court or by written consent of the opposing party. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a). A party seeking amendment from the court need not file a supporting brief under the local rules, but "must state good cause" for the amendment. L.R. 7.3(j). Once a motion is filed, leave to amend "shall be freely given when justice so requires." Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a). Under the rule's liberal construction, see Ward Elecs. Serv., Inc. v. First Commercial Bank, 819 F.2d 496, 497 (4th Cir.1987), motions to amend should be granted absent extraordinary circumstances. Such circumstances include undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive, a repeated failure to cure deficiencies, undue prejudice to the opposing party, and futility of amendment. Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182, 83 S.Ct. 227, 230, 9 L.Ed.2d 222 (1962).

B. Analysis

The court notes as an initial matter that Plaintiff's motion does not comply with local rules because Plaintiff offers no explanation for why amendment is necessary, such as newly discovered evidence or a change in applicable law. See L.R. 7.3(j). Instead, Plaintiff speaks to the consequences of, not the reasons for, amendment. Regardless of this deficiency, justice would not be served by granting Plaintiff's motion to amend because the court finds it is made solely to circumvent Defendant's motion to dismiss.

The purpose of a motion to dismiss is to "expedite and simplify the pretrial phase of federal litigation while at the same time promoting the just disposition of civil cases." 5B Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1342 (3d ed.2004). Testing the formal sufficiency of the statement of the claim for relief found in a plaintiff's complaint is the very purpose for Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 243 (4th Cir.1999). As a result, courts look disfavorably on motions to amend brought for the purpose of circumventing dispositive motions. See, e.g., Sandcrest Outpatient Servs., P.A. v. Cumberland County Hosp. Sys., Inc., 853 F.2d 1139, 1149 (4th Cir.1988) (affirming denial of a motion to amend in part because "the proposed amendment appears to have been an after-thought by appellant, possibly prompted only by the concern that it would lose on the summary judgment motion"); Goewey v. United States, 886 F.Supp. 1268, 1284-85 (D.S.C.1995) (denying plaintiffs' motion to amend because the "[p]laintiffs' attempt to amend their complaint now ... appears to be an eleventh hour attempt to evade a grant of summary judgment"). Here, Plaintiff's motion to amend is the second of its kind brought while a motion to dismiss was pending, the first filed while the suit was in state court. Plaintiff readily acknowledges that this second motion to amend, filed the same day as his opposition to Defendant's motion to dismiss, is brought to defeat Defendant's motion regarding his § 1983 claim. (See Pl.'s Br. Opp'n Def.'s Mot. Dismiss at 5 (arguing against dismissal because "Googerdy has filed a motion to amend his complaint" to remedy the pleading defects)). The court cannot allow Plaintiff to amend simply to defeat Defendant's motion to dismiss. Plaintiff, as master of the lawsuit, must assert appropriate claims against proper parties in a timely manner or suffer dismissal. To allow amendment each time a complaint is challenged would wreak havoc on the judicial system by adding substantial delay and undermining the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

In addition to delay, Defendant has asserted that it, as well as the newly-named defendants, would be prejudiced by further amendment. First, Plaintiff's proposed amendment is not limited to adding Renick and Monroe in their official capacities. Language in the amendment that "Defendants acted willfully and maliciously" ( Proposed Second Am. Compl. ¶ 16) insinuates claims against Renick and Monroe in their individual capacities as well. Although Renick and Monroe may have already been involved in this litigation in their official capacities as representatives of Defendant, they were not named defendants and had no notice of potential personal liability. Second, the addition of Renick and Monroe would revive Plaintiff's § 1983 claim and greatly expand Defendant's potential liability. Their addition would expand Plaintiff's available remedies for recovery against Defendant to include injunctive and equitable relief as well as punitive damages. Se...

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