Legal Memorandum: Motion for Leave to Amend Pleadings

Issue: What are the factors that control a decision on a motion to amend?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Motion for leave to amend; Standard for deciding a motion; Altering the course of litigation
Jurisdiction: Federal
Cited Cases: 259 F.3d 452; 997 F.2d 604; 371 U.S. 178; 474 N.W.2d 110
Cited Statutes: Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(2); Iowa R. Civ. P. 88
Date: 08/01/2011

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(2) states that a court should grant a motion to amend when justice so requires.  The primary factor for determining whether justice requires granting leave to amend is whether the opposing party will somehow be unfairly prejudiced, which generally considers whether that party will have time to adequately respond.  Wade v. Knoxville Utils. Bd., 259 F.3d 452, 458-459 (6th Cir. 2001) (“Notice and substantial prejudice to the opposing party are critical factors in determining whether an amendment should be granted.”).  See also Hariri v. Rubber Prods. Co., 465 N.W.2d 546 (Iowa Ct. App. 1990) (allowing leave to amend during the course of trial because “leave to amend . . . shall be freely given when justice so requires,” citing Iowa R. Civ. P. 88 and noting that “this rule has always received liberal interpretation”).

Courts generally grant leave to amend “in light of the strong public policy permitting amendment.”  Outdoor Sys., Inc. v. City of Mesa, 997 F.2d 604, 614 (9th Cir. 1993).  Moreover, the Supreme Court has held that it is an abuse of the district court’s discretion to deny leave to amend absent specified factors “such as undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on the part of the movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing party by virtue of allowance of the amendment, futility of amendment, etc.”  Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962).