An Illinois federal district court has ruled that a class plaintiff whose motion for class certification was denied may not avoid that outcome by amending his complaint to introduce a new legal theory and revised class definition if the complaint could have been amended prior to moving for class certification.

Chapman’s initial attempt to certify claims under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act failed because the Court found that individual issues would predominate and that the proposed class would be unascertainable, so Chapman filed a motion for leave amend his complaint to include a new class definition based on different alleged violations of the TCPA.

In its opinion denying the motion for leave to amend, the Court observed that the alleged merits of the revised class definition and theory were by no means newly discovered by Chapman more than a year and a half after the close of fact and expert discovery. The Court characterized Chapman’s “strategic” decision to delay seeking amendment until after the parties and Court expended time and resources considering Chapman’s failed first attempt at class certification as inappropriate “gamesmanship,” and a “second bite at the apple based on a theory that he could have pursued years ago.” The Court concluded that Chapman’s undue delay in seeking to amend the complaint was bad faith, and that to allow him to advance an entirely new proposed class definition and theory more than four years after he commenced his class action would be unduly prejudicial to the defendant.

Chapman v. First Index, Inc., No. 1:09-cv-05555 (N.D. Ill. July 16, 2014).