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When a complaint requires correction of a mistake or misstatement, which relates to the amount of relief they are entitled to, based upon the same claim/cause of action, but more than 21 days have passed since service was effected, does the granting of a defendant’s motion of extension of time to answer, or subsequent extensions for the purpose of negotiating settlement, provide any opportunity for the plaintiff to amend the complaint, either with or without leave of court, before the answer is filed?

Can the mistake and intention/request to amend be brought to the judges attention as part of the status report required, if the goal of the plaintiff is to correct the record ASAP, in order to promote judicial efficiency, to avoid potential negative impact or dismissal based on the defendant’s exploitation of the mistake, or to stimulate realistic negotiations (especially if a defendant recognizes the mistake and they offer to settle for the full amount of relief sought, hoping to avoid an increased judgement)?

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Can the Complaint be amended?

In US District Court, can a plaintiff amend a complaint, more than 21 days after service, if extensions are granted to file an answer?

When a complaint requires correction of a mistake or misstatement, which relates to the amount of relief they are entitled to, based upon the same claim/cause of action, but more than 21 days have passed since service was effected, does the granting of a defendant’s motion of extension of time to answer, or subsequent extensions for the purpose of negotiating settlement, provide any opportunity for the plaintiff to amend the complaint, either with or without leave of court, before the answer is filed?

Yes.

A Complaint can be amended once, as a matter of course, without leave of the court, at any time within twenty-one days of the filing of an answer or other responsive pleading (such as a motion to dismiss) is filed, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(1)(B), and may also be filed later, with leave of the court, which should be liberally granted if filed within the time allowed by a Case Management Order in the case, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(2) and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16(3)(b).

Doing so does extend the deadline for answering the Complaint to fourteen days after the amended answer is filed, however, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(3).

Specifically, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15, which governs amendments of pleadings in U.S. District Courts, states in the pertinent part:

(a) Amendments Before Trial.

(1) Amending as a Matter of Course. A party may amend its pleading once as a matter of course no later than:

(A) 21 days after serving it, or

(B) if the pleading is one to which a responsive pleading is required, 21 days after service of a responsive pleading or 21 days after service of a motion under Rule 12(b), (e), or (f), whichever is earlier.

(2) Other Amendments. In all other cases, a party may amend its pleading only with the opposing party's written consent or the court's leave. The court should freely give leave when justice so requires.

(3) Time to Respond. Unless the court orders otherwise, any required response to an amended pleading must be made within the time remaining to respond to the original pleading or within 14 days after service of the amended pleading, whichever is later.

Should a status report be filed?

Can the mistake and intention/request to amend be brought to the judges attention as part of the status report required, if the goal of the plaintiff is to correct the record ASAP, in order to promote judicial efficiency, to avoid potential negative impact or dismissal based on the defendant’s exploitation of the mistake, or to stimulate realistic negotiations (especially if a defendant recognizes the mistake and they offer to settle for the full amount of relief sought, hoping to avoid an increased judgement)?

If no previous amendment has been filed, the Complaint can be amended as a matter of course without court permission in this situation. Bringing the plaintiff's desire to amend the complaint to the attention of the judge in a status report is not required, and is probably not desirable, in this situation.

Filing a status report would take more time than simply filing an amended complaint and would give the other side in the case notice that gives the other side a window of time to try to take some sort of action before the complaint is amended. Ultimately, the other side probably couldn't do anything that would seriously impair the plaintiff's case, but the other side could take some action which could delay the case or increase the effort required for the plaintiff to litigate the case (e.g. by filing a motion to dismiss the case whose status has to be clarified with court proceedings).

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  • So you read within 21 days as not within 21 days?
    – Tak
    Commented May 22 at 16:55
  • The rule you cite lists 21 days as the time to respond to the complaint. The other time periods are for responsive pleadings. This answer is wrong.
    – Tak
    Commented May 22 at 17:21
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    +1. Note also that if the goal is to promptly correct a misstatement or misrepresentation, there are other means of doing so. The plaintiff could just file a notice saying that he's withdrawing that allegation, note the error in the 26(f) report, or drop a footnote about it in some subsequent filing.
    – bdb484
    Commented May 22 at 17:52
  • @bdb484 what? Putting an error on a report does not correct it.
    – Tak
    Commented May 22 at 18:02
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    @Tak if you feel the answer is wrong, you are welcome to post your own answer. Comments are to allow you to recommend improvements to an answer, but they are not mandates to change things. If you feel the answer is wrong because it did not implement your comment, I recommend you DV and move on. Commented May 24 at 13:55

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