February 20, 2017 feature

Procedural Dismissal Leads to Substantive Loss

Denial of untimely motion to amend precludes claims in subsequent suit

By Adam E. Lyons

Pursuing part of a claim in federal court while another part is in administrative resolution may lead to the loss of substantive rights, according to a new federal appellate decision that follows a circuit trend. In Arrigo v. Link, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit considered, on an issue of first impression in that jurisdiction, whether denial of a request to amend to assert unique legal claims served to bar those claims when brought as part of a new case.

The sole basis for the denial was procedural, based on the plaintiff not bringing the motion to amend by the agreed-on deadline to do so. Under principles of res judicata, or claim preclusion, the appellate court determined that the first decision prevented bringing the claims in a new suit. When facing a situation where only part of a claim is ripe for adjudication due to administrative requirements, a plaintiff is required to either stay her entire suit or run the risk of losing substantive causes of action, according to the decision.

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