United States District Court, D. New Mexico
December 23, 2016
SCOTTRA CARR, Plaintiff/Counter-Defendant,
JAY MEYER, Defendant/Counter-Plaintiff, and DYNAMIC TRANSIT COMPANY, Defendant, and JAY MEYER and DYNAMIC TRANSIT COMPANY, Third Party Plaintiffs,
CELADON GROUP, INC., d/b/a CELADON TRUCKING SERVICES, a foreign corporation, Third Party Defendant.
Fashing United States Magistrate Judge
MATTER comes before the Court on Counter-Plaintiff/Third
Party Plaintiff Jay Meyer's (“Meyer”) Motion
for Leave to File Second Amended Third Party Complaint (Doc.
86) filed November 7, 2016, and fully briefed December 16,
2016 (Doc. 104). For the following reasons, the Court denies
Scottra Carr (“Carr”) initiated this case against
defendants Jay Meyer and Dynamic Transit Company
(“Dynamic Transit”) in the Second Judicial
District Court for the State of New Mexico on July 6, 2015.
Doc. 1 at 9-12. On August 31, 2015, Dynamic Transit filed
an amended answer to Carr's complaint, which named
Celadon Trucking Services (“Celadon”) as a third
party defendant. Id. at 33-38. On October 9, 2015,
Meyer filed his answer to Carr's complaint and alleged
counterclaims against Carr and third party claims against
Celadon. Id. at 43-51. In counts 1 and 2, Meyer
alleged claims of negligence and negligence per se
against Carr, which caused Meyer to suffer damages.
Id. at 48-50. In counts 3 and 4, Meyer alleged that
Celadon was responsible for Carr's alleged negligence
based on the doctrine of respondeat superior, and also was
negligent in hiring, training, and supervising Carr.
Id. at 50. Celadon removed the case to this Court on
December 3, 2015. Id. at 1-8. On November 9, 2016,
Chief Magistrate Judge Karen Molzen held a settlement
conference partially settling the case as to Carr's
claims against Meyer, and Dynamic Transit's third party
claims against Celadon. See Docs. 87, 100. The
remaining claims are Meyer's counter claims against Carr
and Meyer's third party claims against Celadon.
instant motion, Meyer seeks to add an additional claim
against Celadon for punitive damages. Doc. 86. Meyer's
punitive damages claim is based on emails sent from a Celadon
trainer, Coleen Harris (“Harris”), to
Celadon's training coordinator, George Hanssen
(“Hanssen”), dated 7/2/14 and 7/5/14, discussing
Carr's lack of driving skills. Id. at 4-5; Docs.
86-1 at 26, 92-10. A third email, dated 7/13/14, was sent
from Harris to Linda Roach, Celadon's driver manager, and
which included the 7/2/14 email from Harris to Hanssen. Doc.
86-1 at 27- 28. Meyer had these emails in his possession more
than three months prior to filing his motion to amend.
timeline of relevant events is helpful to understanding the
disposition of this motion.
Deadline for Meyer to move to amend pleadings
February 26, 2016 (Doc. 19)
Meyer served first set of discovery on Celadon
March 11, 2016 (Docs. 28, 29)
Celadon responds to discovery, but did not disclose
April 28, 2016 (Doc. 104-3)
Harris forwards 7/2/14 and 7/5/14 email to
June 2, 2016 (Doc. 104 at 4)
Celadon disclosed 7/13/14 email (with 7/2/14 email
June 21, 2016 (Docs. 104 at 5, 104-4)
Meyer took Harris' deposition
August 3, 2016 (Doc. 104-5)
Meyer took Carr's deposition
September 22, 2016 (Doc. 104 at 5)
October 17, 2016 (Doc. 19)
Meyer files his motion for leave to amend
November 7, 2016 (Doc. 86)
November 9, 2016 (Doc. 87)
initial pretrial conference is scheduled on January 10, 2017.
Doc. 38. The final pretrial conference is February 16, 2017
(Doc. 98), and a jury trial is scheduled for February 21,
2017 (Doc. 38).
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs amendments to
scheduling orders, and Rule 15 governs amendments to
pleadings generally. Walker v. THI of New Mexico at Hobbs
Ctr., 262 F.R.D. 599, 603 (D.N.M. 2009). Here, while
Meyer can establish “good cause” under Rule 16,
his undue delay caused unfair prejudice to Celadon. I
therefore deny his motion under Rule 15.
Good Cause to Modify the Scheduling Order under Rule
seeking to amend his complaint after the scheduling order
deadline has passed is essentially seeking to modify the
scheduling order and must establish good cause for doing so.
Gorsuch, Ltd., B.C. v. Wells Fargo Nat. Bank
Ass'n, 771 F.3d 1230, 1241 (10th Cir. 2014). This
requirement stems from Rule 16 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure, which provides that a scheduling order “may
be modified only for good cause and with the judge's
consent.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(4). The good cause
standard requires the moving party to show that the
scheduling deadlines could not be met despite the moving
party's diligent efforts. Gorsuch, Ltd., B.C.,
771 F.3d at 1240.
to the scheduling order, Meyer had until February 26, 2016,
to move to amend his pleadings or add additional parties.
Doc. 19. There is no dispute that Meyer did not have the
information necessary to add a punitive damages claim before
the February 26, 2016 deadline. Accordingly, Meyer
establishes good cause to amend the scheduling order under
Rule 16. See Layne Christensen Co. v. Bro-Tech
Corp., No. 09-cv-2381-JWL-GLR, 2011 WL 3847076, at *4
(D. Kan. 2011) (finding that defendant established good cause
under Rule 16 because the new information supporting the
amended answer was obtained after the deadline for
amendment); Pumpco, Inc. v. Schenker Int'l,
Inc., 204 F.R.D. 667, 668-69 (D. Colo. 2001) (“The
fact that a party first learns, through discovery or
disclosures, information necessary for the assertion of a
claim after the deadline to amend established in the
scheduling order has expired constitutes good cause to extend
Leave to Amend Under Rule 15
governs amendments to pleadings. See Fed. R. Civ. P.
15. “Except when an amendment is pleaded ‘as a
matter of course, ' as defined by the rule, ‘a
party may amend its pleading only with the opposing
party's written consent or the court's
leave.'” Bylin v. Billings, 568 F.3d 1224,
1229 (10th Cir. 2009). Whether to grant leave to amend a
complaint pursuant to Rule 15(a) is within the trial
court's wide discretion. See Minter, 451 F.3d at
1204 (citing Zenith Radio Corp. v. Hazeltine Research,
Inc., 401 U.S. 321, 330 (1971)); see also Calderon
v. Kan. Dep't of Soc. & Rehab. Servs., 181 F.3d
1180, 1187 (10th Cir.1999). The court of appeals will not
reverse a lower court's decision to permit an amendment
unless the decision was “arbitrary, capricious,
whimsical, or manifestly unreasonable.” Bylin,
536 F.3d at 1229.
“should freely grant leave when justice so
requires.” Id.; Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). Rule
15(a)(2)'s purpose “is to provide litigants the
maximum opportunity for each claim to be decided on its
merits rather than on procedural niceties.” Minter
v. Prime Equip., 451 F.3d 1196, 1204 (10th Cir. 2006)
(internal quotations omitted). A district court is justified
in refusing leave to amend “upon a showing of undue
delay, undue prejudice to the opposing party, bad faith or
dilatory motive, failure to cure deficiencies by amendments
previously allowed, or futility of amendment.”
Frank v. U.S. West, Inc., 3 F.3d 1357, 1365-66 (10th
Cir. 1993). “It is well settled in this circuit that
untimeliness alone is a sufficient reason to deny leave to
amend, especially when the party filing the motion has no
adequate explanation for the delay.” Id. at
1365-66 (citations omitted).
Meyer unduly delayed filing his motion for leave to
obtained the 7/2/14 and 7/5/14 emails directly from Harris on
June 2, 2016. Doc. 104 at 4. Celadon disclosed the 7/13/14
email (and the attached 7/2/14 email) on June 21, 2016.
Id. at 5. Meyer then took Harris' deposition on
August 3, 2016. Id. Meyer admits that “[i]n
addition to developing Ms. Harris' credibility, her
deposition also revealed that Ms. Harris had made calls to
Celadon's head of training prior to sending the emails,
thereby strengthening the case for punitive damages.”
Id. at 9. Meyer did not seek leave to amend shortly
after Harris' deposition in August 2016. Instead, he
waited to file the motion on November 7, 2016, two days
before to the settlement conference. Meyer does not
adequately explain why he waited three months after acquiring
the information that forms the basis of his amendment to file
his motion to amend.
reply, Meyer argues that it was reasonable for his counsel to
wait until after Carr's deposition in September 2016
before deciding to seek an amendment of the complaint. Doc.
104 at 9. He does not explain, however, how Carr's
deposition would have changed the decision to amend. Meyer
further argues that Celadon caused a certain amount of delay
by failing to disclose the emails in a timely fashion. Doc.
104 at 8-9. Although Celadon did not disclose the 7/13/14
email until June 21, 2016, Meyer had enough information by
August-with Harris' emails and deposition-to determine
whether he had a viable punitive damages claim. Therefore,
Celadon's alleged violations of its discovery obligations
did not impact Meyer's ability to file a motion for leave
to amend in August of 2016.
Meyer's undue delay is unfairly prejudicial to
Meyer argues that amending his complaint would not require
reopening discovery or postponing the trial setting, Doc. 86
at 2, Celadon contends that it would have conducted discovery
differently had the punitive damages claim been raised during
the discovery phase of the trial. Doc. 92 at 4. Further, its
opportunity to file a dispositive motion on punitive damages
was lost as the motion to amend was pending when the deadline
to file such motions past. Id. at 4-5. I agree with
Celadon. By waiting until November to file his motion for
leave to amend, Meyer prevented Celadon from conducting
discovery or filing a dispositive motion with regard to
punitive damages. Adding the punitive damages claim at this
late date is unfairly prejudicial to Celadon and would
require reopening discovery, which would significantly delay
the resolution of the case.
THEREFORE ORDERED that Counter-Plaintiff/Third Party
Plaintiff Jay Meyer's Motion for Leave to File Second
Amended Third Party Complaint (Doc. 86) is DENIED.
page citations refer to the page numbers on the upper right
hand corner of the document, which were assigned by the
Court's CM/ECF system.