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Salazar v. The Quikrete Companies, LLC

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

April 2, 2019

DON SALAZAR and ANDREA SALAZAR, Individuals, d/b/a C&S TRUCKING, CO., Plaintiffs,
v.
THE QUIKRETE COMPANIES, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          ROBERT C. BRACK, SENIOR U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs' Opposed Motion to File First Amended Complaint, filed on January 23, 2019. (Doc. 25.) Jurisdiction arises under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Having considered the submissions of counsel and relevant law, the Court will DENY Plaintiffs' motion.

         I. Background

         From 2013 through 2017, Plaintiffs, doing business as C&S Trucking Co. (C&S), “hauled mined material from a Quikrete mine” in Colorado. (Doc. 1 (Compl.) ¶¶ 1, 6.) Quikrete paid Plaintiffs, on average, approximately $288, 000 per year for their services.[1] (Id. ¶ 7.) Relying on the parties' arrangement, Plaintiff Don Salazar left other employment, and Plaintiff C&S purchased $419, 000 in equipment that would better meet Defendant's needs. (Id. ¶ 8.) For a time in both 2016 and 2017, C&S hauled mined material to Texas, rather than within Colorado, for the benefit of Quikrete and at a lower haul rate, causing C&S to lose $80, 917.59. (Id. ¶ 9.) Plaintiffs expected to continue hauling mined material for Quikrete in 2018, but in May 2018, Quikrete notified C&S that it “no longer needed [the] mined material hauling services of C&S.” (Id. ¶ 11.)

         Plaintiffs filed their original Complaint for Recovery of Reliance Damages in this Court on August 9, 2018. (See Compl.) The Court filed its Order Setting Case Management Deadlines and Discovery Parameters on October 22, 2018. (Doc. 11.) The Court imposed a November 30, 2018 deadline for Plaintiffs to move to amend their pleadings or add additional parties. (Id. at 2.) On January 23, 2019, Plaintiffs filed their motion to submit a First Amended Complaint in order to add a claim for punitive damages. (See Doc. 25 at 1.) Defendant opposes the motion as untimely. (See Doc. 28.)

         II. Legal Standards

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15 allows a party to amend its pleading once as a matter of course in limited circumstances. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1). Otherwise, a party may only amend its pleading with “opposing party's written consent or the court's leave.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). Rule 15 directs that leave shall be freely given “when justice so requires.” Id. “The purpose of the Rule 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. Co., 451 F.3d 1196, 1204 (10th Cir. 2006) (quoting Hardin v. Manitowoc-Forsythe Corp., 691 F.2d 449, 456 (10th Cir. 1982)). A court may deny a motion for leave to amend where there has been “undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on the part of the movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing party by virtue of allowance of the amendment, futility of amendment, etc ..... ” Id. (quoting Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962)).

         “When the deadline for amending pleadings set in the scheduling order has passed, as is the case here, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16(b)(4) is also implicated.” Soseeah v. Sentry Ins., No. CV 12-01091 RB/GBW, 2014 WL 12796813, at *1 (D.N.M. Apr. 18, 2014). “Rule 16(b)(4) provides that a scheduling order ‘may be modified only for good cause and with the judge's consent.'” Id. (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(4)). “In practice, this standard requires the movant to show the ‘scheduling deadlines cannot be met despite [the movant's] diligent efforts.'” Gorsuch, Ltd., B.C. v. Wells Fargo Nat. Bank Ass'n, 771 F.3d 1230, 1240 (10th Cir. 2014) (quoting Pumpco, Inc. v. Schenker Int'l, Inc., 204 F.R.D. 667, 668 (D. Colo. 2001) (internal quotations omitted)).

         III. Discussion

         A. Plaintiffs have not shown good cause under Rule 16.

         Under Rule 16, Plaintiffs must show that they were unable to meet the deadline to amend their complaint despite their diligent efforts. See Id. This standard “may be satisfied, for example, if a plaintiff learns new information through discovery or if the underlying law has changed.” Id. (citing Pumpco, 204 F.R.D. at 668-69). “If the plaintiff knew of the underlying conduct but simply failed to raise tort claims, however, the claims are barred.” Id. (citing Minter, 451 F.3d at 1206; Fed. Ins. Co. v. Gates Learjet Corp., 823 F.2d 383, 387 (10th Cir. 1987)).

         The parties fail to discuss whether Plaintiffs have shown good cause to amend under Rule 16. (See Docs. 25; 28; 29.) From Plaintiffs' scant arguments in their motion and reply briefs, however, it appears that they cannot meet this standard. Plaintiffs offer only one reason to amend their complaint-they “did not request their counsel to assert a claim for punitive damages until after the November 30, 2018 cut-off.” (Doc. 25 at 2.)

         The Court has not found a case directly on point, but it finds guidance in Colorado Visionary Academy v. Medtronic, Inc., 194 F.R.D. 684 (D. Colo. 2000). There, the plaintiff filed a motion to amend its complaint on February 29, 2000, one day before the deadline to join parties and amend pleadings. See 194 F.R.D. at 686. The court granted the motion on March 30, 2000, and the defendant filed an answer to the amended complaint on April 14, 2000. See Id. at 686-87. Approximately two months later, on June 15, 2000, the defendant sought to amend its answer to add a defense of comparative negligence. Id. at 687. To show good cause, the defendant attributed the two-month delay to its attorney's need to “conduct[] additional research into the substantive law behind [the plaintiff's] claims . . . .” Id. (citation omitted). The court denied the motion, and the Tenth Circuit affirmed, noting that the defendant had not shown good cause for the delay. Id. “Carelessness is not compatible with a finding of diligence and offers no reason for a grant of relief.” Id. (quotation omitted).

         Here, Plaintiffs waited until approximately eight weeks after the deadline to amend pleadings had passed to file their motion. Their only reason-that they simply had not requested the claim be added-is insufficient to show diligent efforts or good cause. Plaintiffs submitted a transcript from a January 22, 2019 deposition to establish that Defendant questioned Mr. Salazar about the punitive damages claim. (See Doc. 29-1.) Plaintiffs argue that Defendant will not be prejudiced by allowing Plaintiffs to add the claim. (See Doc. 29 at 2.) The transcript does not offer any evidence, however, that Plaintiffs learned of the facts underlying the punitive damages claim after the ...


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