Briscoe v. City of New Haven
A party may amend its complaint only with the opposing party's written consent or the leave of the court, and the court should freely give leave when justice requires. The plaintiff firefighter, Michael Briscoe, filed a civil-rights suit against the City of New Haven, alleging its promotional practices had an impermissible, disparate impact on African-American workers. Briscoe sought court permission to amend his complaint and to allege that the city charter and rules require that tests for promotions to the position of lieutenant be based on a 100-point scale, and that anyone who scores 70 or above will receive a passing score. Briscoe argued that the city wrongly used an 84-point scale. The City of New Haven objected that the proposed amendment to the complaint was barred as a result of waiver or is futile. The city argued it is not legally responsible to Briscoe for complying with the U.S. Supreme Court's 2009 decision in Ricci v. DeStefano. The city relied on the Third Circuit's 2011 decision on discriminatory intent in NAACP v. North Hudson Regional Fire & Rescue. The District Court found that the Third Circuit's decision on discriminatory intent is not directly on point, because Briscoe's complaints do not allege that the City of New Haven possessed any discriminatory intent. The 2nd Circuit previously has rejected the city's argument that the city's conduct was compelled by the decision in Ricci v. DeStefano and cannot be challenged. The 2nd Circuit already held that Briscoe, as a nonparty to the Ricci litigation, is not barred by the Ricci litigation from pursuing his claims, unless a statutory or common-law exception applied. The city failed to prove that Briscoe's proposed amendment would be futile, procedurally or substantively. The District Court granted Briscoe's motion to amend.