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Lighthouse Property Insurance Corporation v. Bmw of North America, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

July 27, 2017

LIGHTHOUSE PROPERTY INSURANCE CORPORATION, AS LEGAL AND CONVENTIONAL SUBROGEE OF TYRONNE SCOTT AND LUCRETIA SCOTT
v.
BMW OF NORTH AMERICA, LLC, ET AL

         SECTION: “F” (4)

          ORDER AND REASONS

          KAREN WELLS ROBY CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Before the Court is a Motion for Leave to Supplement Pleadings and to Add a Related Party Defendant (R. Doc. 45) filed by the Plaintiff, Lighthouse Property Insurance Corporation, seeking leave to file a supplemental complaint and to add a related party defendant based on information learned during discovery. The motion is opposed. R. Doc. 56. The motion was submitted on July 26, 2017.

         I. Background

         This case was removed from the 40th Judicial District Court for the Parish of St. John the Baptist Parish on August 24, 2016. R. Doc. 1. Plaintiff Lighthouse Property Insurance Corporation, as legal and conventional subrogee of Tyronne Scott and Lucretia Scott, alleges that on November 9, 2015 the Scott's 2008 BMW caught fired while in the Scott's garage due to a manufacturing defect and causing significant damage as a result. R. Doc. 1-1, p. 14. The Scott's were insured by the Plaintiff, who provided coverage for physical damage to the premise, contents and loss of use of the property. Id. Pursuant to the policy, the Plaintiff paid $176, 090.48 to the Scotts. Id. In addition to another $1, 000 deductible incurred by the Scotts, the Plaintiff seeks $177, 090.48. As legal and conventional subrogee to the Scotts, the Plaintiff alleges that BMW is liable under the Louisiana Products Liability Act. Id.

         At this time, the Plaintiff has filed a motion to supplement its pleadings to assert with more detail the particular defects alleged as well as add a related party defendant. R. Doc. 45, p. 1. In particular, the Plaintiff seeks to narrow its allegations to assert that the vehicle was “unreasonably dangerous in construction, composition, and design due to a battery cable terminal being mounted too close to a potential grounding point inside the Automobile's engine compartment unit.” R. Doc. 45-3, p. 3. The Plaintiff also seeks to add Bayerische Motoren Wekre AG (“BMW AG”) as a defendant in this case. Id. at p. 1-2. The instant motion was filed on July 11, 2017. R. Doc. 45. The deadline for filing amendments to pleadings, third-party actions, cross-claims, and counterclaims was November 7, 2016. R. Doc. 8.

         The Defendant has opposed the motion. R. Doc. 56. The Defendant argues that the Plaintiff has not demonstrated good cause for the late filing of a supplemental claim and addition of a third party. Id.

         II. Standard of Review

         Generally, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a) governs the amendment of pleadings before trial. Rule 15(a) allows a party to amend its pleadings “only with the other party's written consent or the court's leave.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). Moreover, the Rule urges that the Court “should freely give leave when justice so requires.” Id. In taking this liberal approach, the Rule “reject[s] the approach that pleading is a game of skill in which one misstep by counsel may be decisive to the outcome and accept the principle that the purpose of pleading is to facilitate a proper decision on the merits.” Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 48 (1957).

         “Rule 15(a) requires a trial court ‘to grant leave to amend freely, ' and the language of this rule ‘evinces a bias in favor of granting leave to amend.'” Jones v. Robinson Prop. Grp., 427 F.3d 987, 994 (5th Cir. 2005) (internal quotations marks omitted) (quoting Lyn-Lea Travel Corp. v. Am. Airlines, 283 F.3d 282, 286 (5th Cir.2002)). When denying a motion to amend, the court must have a “substantial reason” considering such factors as “‘undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on the part of the movant, repeated failures to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing party ...and futility of the amendment.'” Marucci Sports, LLC v. Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Ass'n, 751 F.3d 368, 378 (5th Cir. 2014) (quoting Jones, 427 F.3d at 994). An amendment is deemed to be futile if it would be dismissed under a Rule 12(b)(6) motion. Id. (citing Briggs v. Miss., 331 F.3d 499, 508 (5th Cir 2003)).

         “[T]he Fifth Circuit [has] clarified that when, as here, a scheduling order has been issued by the district court, Rule 16(b) governs amendment of pleadings.” Royal Ins. Co. of America v. Schubert Marine Sales, 02-0916, 2003 WL 21664701, at *2 (E.D. La. July 11, 2003) (Englehardt, J.) (citing S & W Enterprises, L.L.C. v. Southtrust Bank of Ala., 315 F.3d 533, 535-36 (5th Cir.2003)). Rule 16(b) limits changes in the deadlines set by a scheduling order “only for good cause and with the judge's consent.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(4). To determine if good cause exists as to untimely motions to amend pleadings, the Court should consider: “(1) the movant's explanation for its failure to timely move for leave to amend; (2) the importance of the amendment; (3) the potential prejudice in allowing the amendment; and (4) the availability of a continuance to cure that prejudice.” Schubert Marine Sales, 2003 WL 21664701, at *2 (citing S & W Enterprises, 315 F.3d at 536). If the movant can show good cause, the Court will then apply the liberal standards of Rule 15(a). S&W Enterprises, 315 F.3d at 536.

         III. Analysis

         At this time, the Plaintiff has filed a motion to amend its complaint by narrowing its claims under the Louisiana Products Liability Act as well as to add a third party defendant. R. Doc. 45. This motion was filed on July 11, 2017. However, the deadline for filing of motions to amend or add additional parties was November 7, 2016. R. Doc. 8. As such, the motion is untimely and must first be evaluated under Rule 16(b) before the more liberal standard of Rule 15 is applied.

         A. Addit ...


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