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Carr v. Meyer

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.


          Laura Fashing United States Magistrate Judge

         THIS 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 Meyer's motion.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff 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.[1] 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.

         In the 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.

         A 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 emails

April 28, 2016 (Doc. 104-3)

Harris forwards 7/2/14 and 7/5/14 email to Meyer's counsel

June 2, 2016 (Doc. 104 at 4)

Celadon disclosed 7/13/14 email (with 7/2/14 email attached)

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)

Discovery terminated

October 17, 2016 (Doc. 19)

Meyer files his motion for leave to amend

November 7, 2016 (Doc. 86)

Settlement Conference

November 9, 2016 (Doc. 87)

         The 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).

         II. Discussion

         Rule 16 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.

         A. Good Cause to Modify the Scheduling Order under Rule 16.

         A party 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.

         Pursuant 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 that deadline.”).

         B. Leave to ...

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