E.D.N.Y. Notes Split Re Whether Motions to Amend Are Dispositive or Nondispositive

Per Wilson v. City of New York, Slip Copy, 2008 WL 1909212 (E.D.N.Y. Apr. 30, 2008):

Courts in this Circuit are divided on the issue of whether, and under what circumstances, motions to amend a pleading are dispositive or nondispositive. The Second Circuit has not yet ruled on the issue, see Children First Found., Inc. v. Martinez, No. 1:04-CV-0927 (NPM), 2007 WL 4618524, at *4 (N.D.N.Y Dec. 27, 2007) (citing Rubin v. Valicenti Advisory Servs., 471 F.Supp.2d 329, 333 (W.D.N.Y.2007)), but has stated in dictum and in an unpublished opinion that motions to amend are nondispositive and has suggested that the procedures of Rule 72(a) invariably apply. See Fielding v. Tollaksen, 510 F.3d 175, 178 (2d Cir.2007) (indicating that a motion to amend the complaint is “nondispositive” and governed by Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a)); Kilcullen v. New York State Dep't of Transp., 55 Fed. Appx. 583, 584 (2d. Cir.2003) (analyzing a magistrate judge's decision to deny a Rule 15(a) motion to add a claim to the complaint under the Rule 72(a) standard). In addition, several district courts, opining that “the weight of authority” within this Circuit classifies a motion to amend a pleading as nondispositive, have automatically applied Rule 72(a) standards to motions to amend, even in cases where the magistrate judge's decision on the motions foreclosed a party from asserting potential claims. See, e.g., Lyondell-Citgo Refining, L.P. v. Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A., No. 02 Civ. 0795(CBM), 2005 WL 883485, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 14, 2005); Credit Suisse First Boston LLC v. Couer D'Alene Mines Corp., No. 03 Civ. 9547(PKL)(MHD), 2005 WL 323714, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 10, 2005).

Other district courts have held that a Rule 15(a) motion is dispositive where the magistrate judge's denial of the motion foreclosed potential claims. See, e.g., Covington v. Kid, No. 94 Civ. 4234(WHP), 1999 WL 9835, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 7, 1999); Champion Titanium Horseshoe, Inc. v. Wyman-Gordon Inv. Castings, Inc., 925 F.Supp. 188, 189-90 (S.D.N.Y.1996); Moss v. Stinnes Corp., No. 92 Civ. 3788(JFK), 1995 WL 625685, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 25, 1995). Some of these courts have specifically held “that a denial of a motion to amend is dispositive where the denial is based on futility because such a motion is analyzed under the same standard as a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim or a motion for summary judgment, both of which are dispositive motions.” Children First Found., 2007 WL 4618524, at *4 (citing HHC, Inc. v. RH & M Mach. Co., 39 F.Supp.2d 317, 321 (S.D.N.Y.1999)).

Although this Court is persuaded that the latter group of cases is better reasoned, this Court need not decide which of group of district court is correct.


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