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M.K. v. Tenet

    Brief Fact Summary. Plaintiffs, M.K. et al., amended their complaints against Defendants, CIA director George Tenet et al., for violations pertaining to their employment at the CIA.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. The court has discretion in viewing on a case-by-case basis whether a complaint amendment is not unduly burdensome on the opposing party, and they will look at factors such as whether discovery has yet to take place.

    Facts. Plaintiffs brought this action after they were effectively denied assistance of counsel when their counsel was unable to access their employment records. Plaintiffs were accusing Defendants of placing incorrect or unwarranted material in their employment files. Defendants filed a Rule 12 motion to dismiss under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which was partly granted. Plaintiffs amended their complaint, and now Defendants have moved to sever six of the Plaintiffs from their complaint under Rules 20(b), 21 and 42(b). Plaintiffs wanted to amend after intervening precedent supported their contention that their rights under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution when they were not allowed to disclose documents to their attorneys. Plaintiffs also expanded their accusations of Defendants’ obstruction. Defendants complained that the amended complaint was factually diverse, lacked a common thread between Plaintiffs and therefore placed an undue burden on the
    m.

    Issue. The issue is whether Plaintiffs amended claim should be granted and whether Defendants may sever six Plaintiffs from the claim.

    Held. The court held that there was not an undue burden and allowed the amended claim without allowing Defendants motion to sever. Discovery has yet to take place, and Defendants were unable to point to any specific Rule 8 violations (Rule 8 ensures that a claim is plainly stated to ensure that there is no burden on the party to respond to the complaint). The court also agreed with Plaintiffs’ Rule 20(a) transactional test that argued that the claims by each Plaintiff were logically related.

    Discussion. The court noted that Plaintiffs were not repeatedly going back to the well to amend their complaints; rather, this was their first amendment and it occurred before discovery.


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