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Caldwell v. United Parcel Service, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division

August 10, 2016

ZANE GRAYSON CALDWELL, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED PARCEL SERVICE, INC., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Elizabeth K. Dillon United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Zane Caldwell, proceeding pro se, moves for leave to file a second amended complaint against his former employer, defendant United Parcel Service, Inc. (UPS). For the following reasons, the court will deny the motion as futile and dismiss the case with prejudice.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The background facts of this case are provided in detail in the court's two previous memorandum opinions on UPS's motions to dismiss under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and (b)(6). (Dkt. Nos. 25 and 38.) Here, the court offers only those facts necessary to decide Caldwell's motion.

         In December 2013, Caldwell loaded trucks for UPS. Because of various health problems, including the flu, he missed work from December 8 through December 12. On each day, he texted his supervisor, Cody, telling him that he was going to be out. But Cody did not inform management, and Caldwell was discharged on December 16 for failure to notify the company of his absences.

         Approximately four months later, on April 30, 2014, Caldwell filed a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), alleging that UPS had denied him a reasonable accommodation and discharged him in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 (42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq.). The EEOC took no action on the charge and issued a right-to-sue letter. Caldwell then filed this case against UPS on June 30, 2015.

         In his original complaint, Caldwell appeared to allege that he was wrongfully discharged in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.) and the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) (29 U.S.C. § 2601 et seq.), but not the ADA. (Dkt. No. 1.) On UPS's motion to dismiss under Rules 12(b)(1) and (b)(6), the court dismissed Caldwell's complaint, in part for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction and in part for failure to state a claim. (Dkt. No. 2 at 6-10.) But it gave Caldwell leave to file an amended complaint limited to claims under the FMLA and the ADA. (Id. 10-13.)

         Caldwell filed an amended complaint alleging only two ADA claims-failure to accommodate and wrongful discharge. (Dkt. No. 27.) UPS again moved to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), and the court again dismissed Caldwell's complaint, concluding that it did not state either a failure-to-accommodate or wrongful-discharge claim, because it did not allege sufficient facts to establish a disability under the ADA. (Dkt. No. 38 at 7-9.) The court did not give Caldwell leave to file a second amended complaint, but it did not foreclose the possibility of such leave either. (Id. at 9.) Rather, it instructed Caldwell that if he wished to file a second amended complaint, then he needed to file a formal motion seeking leave to do so on or before May 16, 2016. (Id.)

         Three days before the deadline, on May 13, Caldwell filed a document entitled "formal motion, " in which he asked for leave to file a second amended complaint and for a 30-day extension "to allow [him] proper time to get [the] second amended complaint filed with exhibits." (Dkt. No. 41 at 1.) The court granted the extension, but again instructed Caldwell "to file a brief explaining why it should grant him leave to file a second amended complaint at the same time that he files the proposed second amended complaint (and any supporting documents)." (Dkt. No. 43.)

         Over the next month, Caldwell filed three more documents-"Amended Second Complaint" (Dkt. No. 41-1), "2nd Amendment Attachment" (Dkt. No. 42), and "Amende [sic] Second Complaint" (Dkt. No. 44). He did not, however, file a brief explaining why leave should be granted.

         UPS opposes Caldwell's motion on two grounds. (Dkt. No. 45 at 4-8.) First, it contends that the motion should be denied because Caldwell failed to file a supporting brief. (Id. at 4.) And second, it argues that the motion should be denied because amendment would be futile. (Id. at 4-8.)

         Neither party requested an oral hearing on Caldwell's motion, and the court does not believe that one would be helpful. Hence, the court decides the motion without an oral hearing. See W.D. Va. Civ. R. 11(b).

         II. DISCUSSION

         As a preliminary matter, the court must decide whether to reach the merits of Caldwell's motion even though he did not comply with its instruction to file a supporting brief. While pro se parties are not excused from following the rules and orders of the court, they are not held to the same standards as attorneys. Indeed, they are afforded wide latitude. Here, the court does not believe that Caldwell intended to flout its instruction to file a supporting brief. Instead, it thinks that he simply did not understand what was required of him. In his interactions with the court, Caldwell has been courteous ...


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