Thursday, May 17, 2007

Eighth Circuit Upholds District Court’s Denial of “Futile” Amendment to Complaint Under Rule 8

Per McAninch v. Wintermute, 478 F.3d 882 (8th Cir. Mar. 06, 2007):

McAninch moved to file his first amended complaint to assert additional claims and allegations of fact against KBS. The district court, however, found that the “proposed amended complaint,” which added “some 143 pages of allegations and 16 additional claims” against KBS, “compare[d] unfavorably to the petition originally filed,” which was only 9 pages long. The district court found the proposed amended complaint to contain “lengthy, irrelevant, and largely incomprehensible factual allegations, discussions of case law supposedly supporting claims, and argumentative responses directed at defendant's answer to the original petition.” Therefore, the district court determined that McAninch's proposed amendment would be “futile and improper.” In addition, the district court found that the proposed amendment failed to comply with Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure because “none of the counts alleged contain[ed] a ‘short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,’ or an adequate summary of the relevant facts supporting plaintiff's conclusory allegations (i.e., claims of fraud, mistake, and misrepresentation).” (Emphasis in original).

A district court should freely give leave to a party to amend its pleadings when justice so requires, Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a); however, it may properly deny a party's motion to amend its complaint when such amendment would unduly prejudice the non-moving party or would be futile. Kozohorsky v. Harmon, 332 F.3d 1141, 1144 (8th Cir.2003). Based on the district court's reasoning, and considering that the proposed amendment could have “result[ed] in the burdens of additional discovery and delay to the proceedings,” Popp Telcom v. Am. Sharecom, Inc., 210 F.3d 928, 943 (8th Cir.2000), we find that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying McAninch's motion to amend the complaint.


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