Judge Ezra Explains the Impact of an Amended Complaint on a Default Judgment

Freilich v. Green Energy Resources, Inc., No. SA:12-CV-577-DAE, slip op. (W.D. Tex. Jan. 16, 2014)(Ezra, J.)

Much of this opinion is devoted to the humdrum details of default judgments. The District Court, however, also addressed the impact of an amended complaint on a prior default judgment. In this case, the District Court entered a default judgment against the corporate defendant, Green Energy Resources, Inc., after an extended period passed without its securing counsel. Slip op. at 2-4. The Freilich’s then sought to amend their complaint to add an alter ego theory against the individual defendants. Id. at 4, 8-9. The District Court pointed out that “courts routinely set aside entries of defaults when plaintiffs file amended complaints.” Id. at 14 (citing Rossignol v. Tillman, No. 10-3044, 2011 WL 1193017, at *2 (E.D. La. Mar. 25, 2011)). When the Freilich’s flinched at the prospect of losing their default judgment, the District Court denied the motion to amend without prejudice. Id. at 15.

Judge Ezra Stays Discovery Pending a Ruling on Camber’s Rule 12(b)(6) Motion

Conquest v. Camber Corporation, No. SA:13-CV-01108-DAE, slip op. (W.D. Tex. Jan. 13, 2014)(Ezra, J.)

Conquest moved for expedited discovery at the same time as he filed this putative collective Fair Labor Standards Act case. Camber Corporation moved to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1) and contemporaneously filed a motion to stay discovery under Rule 26(c). The District Court found that there would be “meager harm” in staying discovery at the outset of the case whereas discovery could prove altogether unnecessary if the motion were granted; therefore, the District Court entered a stay that “automatically lifted once the Court rules on defendant’s Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. #14).” Slip op. at 2-4.

The Right Number of Summary Judgment Motions? It’s Not 25.

Hernandez v. Frazier, No. SA:11-CV-0009-DAE, slip op. (W.D. Tex. Jan. 9, 2014)(Ezra, J.)

In this patent case involving oil and gas well technology, the District Court extended the dispositive motion deadline seven times at the request of one or both sides. See slip op. at 2. Frazier filed 23 timely motions for partial summary judgment before the last deadline. He then filed a 24th motion six months after the last deadline with leave of court. Id. at 2-3. Ten months after the deadline, he was back at it, seeking leave to file a 25th motion directed to the plaintiffs’ damages claim. Id. at 3. Applying the Fifth Circuit’s four-part standard for good cause under Rule 16(b)(4), see S&W Enters., L.L.C. v. South Trust Bank of Ala., N.A., 315 F.3d 533, 535 (5th Cir. 2003), the District Court found that Frazier’s excuse for delay was unsatisfactory, the motion’s importance was minimal, and the plaintiffs would suffer prejudice by “having to engage in further discovery.” Id. at 8. The District Court assigned little or no weight to the fourth factor—the availability of a continuance as a remedy—because the case had been pending for over three years.” Id. (underscore in original).