United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Western Division
For Brittany Scott, Plaintiff: Stanley E Munger, LEAD ATTORNEY, Munger, Reinschmidt & Denne, Sioux City, IA.
For City of Sioux City, Iowa, Defendant: Randall H Stefani, LEAD ATTORNEY, Ahlers & Cooney, P.C., Des Moines, IA; Lindsay Ann Vaught, Ahlers & Cooney, PC, Des Moines, IA.
For Paul Eckert, Defendant: Stacey Laurene Hall, Nyemaster Goode, Cedar Rapids, IA.
LEONARD T. STRAND, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Defendant City of Sioux City (the City) has filed a motion (Doc. No. 26) for leave to amend its answer. Plaintiff has filed a resistance (Doc. No. 27) and the City has filed a reply (Doc. No. 28). Plaintiff then filed a motion for leave to file a response to the City's reply, which I granted. Plaintiff filed her sealed response that day. (Doc. No. 34). I gave the City the opportunity to submit a reply, which it did on May 9, 2014. (Doc. No. 38). I held a hearing on May 28, 2014. Plaintiff appeared personally and with her attorney, Stanley Munger. Randall Stefani appeared for the City, along with City Attorney Nicole Jensen-Harris. Stacey Hall appeared for defendant Paul Eckert, who takes no position on the motion. The motion is fully submitted.
Scott has been employed by the City since 1997. She filed this action on July 9, 2013, alleging unlawful retaliation under Iowa and federal law as a result of reporting alleged sexual harassment by Eckert during her employment with the City. Her complaint describes a series of adverse employment actions that date back to March 2004 and continue to the present. Doc. No. 1 at 4-12.
On September 4, 2013, the City filed its answer (Doc. No. 5) in which it denied Scott's claims of retaliation and asserted various affirmative defenses. On November 18, 2013, I adopted the parties' joint, proposed scheduling order (Doc. No. 7) which, among other things, established January 2, 2014, as the deadline for motions to amend pleadings. The City filed its present motion April 10, 2014, more than three months after that deadline expired.
In an affidavit in support of the motion, City Attorney Nicole Jensen-Harris states that a current City employee requested a meeting with her on March 17, 2014. That meeting was held on March 20, 2014. The current City employee brought a former City employee to the meeting. A City Council member also attended. The former employee provided what the City repeatedly
calls " direct evidence"  of misconduct by Scott. The City claims this " direct evidence" shows (a) Scott claimed and received payment for hours not actually worked and (b) Scott spent substantial amounts of time working on personal matters while at work. While the City's supporting papers do not describe the time period of these alleged events, during the hearing the City stated that they occurred during and after 2012.
Jensen-Harris states that the March 20, 2014, meeting was the first time she became aware of " direct evidence" that Scott had engaged in alleged misconduct of this nature. She further states that she has since learned other City officials had prior knowledge of similar accusations, but those accusations were based on hearsay or rumors. After the March 20 meeting, Jensen-Harris immediately advised the City's counsel in this case about the new " direct evidence." The City then commenced a " due diligence inquiry" to determine whether it should seek leave to add an additional affirmative defense.
The City contends the new evidence would, if substantiated, justify Scott's termination from employment. On March 28, 2014, the City's counsel contacted Scott's counsel to notify him about the new evidence and of its intention to file a motion to amend its answer. The City then filed its motion to amend after being ...