Federal district courts are supposed to grant leave to amend a complaint “freely … when justice so requires.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2). The Seventh Circuit has construed this directive to require, in most cases, that a plaintiff whose complaint has been dismissed under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) be given at least one opportunity to amend the complaint. See Runnion ex rel. Runnion v. Girl Scouts of Greater Chi. & Nw. Ind., 786 F.3d 510, 519 (7th Cir. 2015). Dismissal with prejudice may be appropriate when it is clear from the face of the complaint that amendment would be futile, but the Seventh Circuit has emphasized that “[s]uch cases of clear futility at the outset of the case are rare” and denial of leave to amend at least once “will be reviewed rigorously on appeal.” Id. at 520.
The court’s recent decision in Haywood v. Massage Envy Franchising, LLC, No. 17-2402 (7th Cir. Apr. 10, 2018), is noteworthy for its seeming less-than-rigorous review of the dismissal with prejudice of a complaint alleging violations of Illinois and Missouri consumer fraud statutes. The plaintiffs in Haywood claimed that the defendant had violated both acts by advertising and selling one-hour massages that in fact lasted only 50 minutes. The defendant moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim, and the district court granted the motion with prejudice.