Sexual Harassment Plaintiff May Amend Her Complaint, Court Rules [Rybnik v. MW 303 Corp.]

In Rybnik v. MW 303 Corp., 2018 WL 2046571 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. N.Y. Cty., Index No. 158679/16, April 27, 2018), the court held that the plaintiff may amend her sexual harassment complaint.

Here is the legal standard, as explained by the court:

Leave to amend pleadings pursuant to CPLR §3025(b) should be freely given “absent prejudice or surprise resulting directly from the delay” (Anoun v City of New York, 85 AD3d 694, 926 NYS2d 98 [1st Dept. 2011] citing Fahey v County of Ontario, 44 NY2d 934, 408 NYS2d 314, 380 NE2d 146 [1978]), “or if the proposed amendment is palpaoly improper or insufficient as a matter of law” (McGhee v Odell, 96 AD3d 449, 946 NYS2d 134 [1st Dept. 2012]). A party opposing leave to amend “must overcome a heavy presumption of validity in favor of [permitting amendment]” (Id). “Prejudice arises when a party incurs a change in position or is hindered in the preparation of its case or has been prevented from taking some measure in support of its position, and these problems might have been avoided had the original pleading contained the proposed amendment” (Valdes v Marbrose Realty, Inc., 289 AD2d 28, 734 NYS2d 24 [1st Dept. 2001];. Defendants will not suffer any prejudice when an amended complaint adds a claim premised upon the very same subject matter alleged by the original complaint

Applying the law, the court explained:

Plaintiff’s motion for leave to amend her pleadings is granted. The Defendants fail to demonstrate any surprise or prejudice. Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint seeks to add additional allegations of harassment by Defendant Joel Lim, who was Plaintiff’s superior, and the manager and owner of the Hotel. These new allegations derive from the original allegations of sexual harassment in Plaintiff’s original Complaint. Defendants cannot claim surprise to these new allegations (Brown, supra). Furthermore, Defendants cannot demonstrate prejudice since Discovery has yet to be conducted as there has been no production of documents, and depositions have not been taken. Plaintiff’s motion to amend her Complaint is granted since Defendants fail to overcome their heavy burden in demonstrating surprise or prejudice.

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