“Good Cause” is Required to Amend a Complaint After a Scheduling Order Deadline for Amendment Has Passed

Premier Comp Solutions, LLC v. UPMC, 730 F.3d 316 (3d Cir. 2020). Under Rule 15 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, amendments to pleadings are liberally granted. But when a Scheduling Order sets a deadline for amending pleadings, Rule 16(b)(4) requires “good cause” for an amendment.

In this case, plaintiff sought to add a defendant after an amendment deadline had passed (and after that deadline had been extended once). Plaintiff’s motion relied only on Rule 15’s “liberally granted” standard. When the UPMC defendants opposed the motion and called attention to plaintiff’s failure to address Rule 16(b)(4), plaintiff briefed that rule in its reply submission and, also for the first time, argued that it had exercised diligence .

The District Court denied leave to amend. Thereafter, all defendants won summary judgment. Plaintiff then appealed the denial of leave to amend. In an opinion by Judge Hardiman that applied the abuse of discretion standard, the Third Circuit affirmed.

Before addressing plaintiff’s appellate arguments, Judge Hardiman “clarif[ied] that when a party moves to amend or add a party after the deadline in a district court’s scheduling order has passed, the ‘good cause’ standard of Rule 16(b)(4) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure applies. A party must meet this standard before a district court considers whether the party also meets Rule 15’s more liberal standard.” This view, Judge Hardiman said, was “consistent with all of our sister circuits that have addressed the issue.” The panel also “reaffirm[ed]” that “whether ‘good cause’ exists under Rule 16(b)(4) depends in part on a plaintiff’s diligence.”

Plaintiff made two arguments on appeal, both of which Judge Hardiman found to have been “forfeited.” The first was that the “good cause” standard does not require diligence. Plaintiff did not present that argument in the District Court and could not offer it on appeal.

The second contention was that if diligence were required, plaintiff’s reply brief sufficed to address that issue. Judge Hardiman disagreed. It was not an abuse of discretion for the District Court to refuse to address issues raised for the first time in a reply. Judge Hardiman cited Venuto v. Carella, Byrne, Bain, Gilfillan, Cecchi & Stewart, P.C., 11 F.3d 385, 388 (3d Cir. 1993), for that principle.