United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
NOEL CARDOSO-GONZALES, ET AL.
ANADARKO PETROLEUM CORPORATION, ET AL.
ORDER AND REASONS
van Meerveld United States Magistrate Judge
the Court is the Motion for Leave to File Second Amended
Complaint filed by the Plaintiffs. (Rec. Doc. 34). For the
following reasons, the Motion is GRANTED; Plaintiffs'
Second Amended Complaint is hereby entered into the record.
Noel Cardoso-Gonzalez alleges he was injured on August 13,
2016, while working aboard the Lucius KS-875, a platform
located in the Gulf of Mexico and owned and/or operated by
defendant Anadarko Petroleum Corporation
(“Anadarko”). Cardoso-Gonzales alleges that
without warning, an unsecured cable tray fell out of the rack
from above and struck him between his right shoulder and
neck. He filed suit against Anadarko, W-Industries of
Louisiana, LLC (“W-I”), Dolphin Services, L.L.C.
(“Dolphin”), Gulf South Services, Inc.
(“Gulf South”), and Safezone Safety Systems,
L.L.C. (“Safezone”), on November 23, 2016. A
preliminary conference was held on April 4, 2017. The
scheduling order sets the deadline for pleading amendments as
May 4, 2017.
now seek to amend their Complaint to add a new defendant,
Paloma Energy Consultants, L.P. (“Paloma”).
Plaintiffs assert that it was not until four depositions
taken between October 16, 2017, and October 24, 2017, that
they learned of Paloma's role in the alleged incident.
They point to deposition testimony indicating that Paloma was
retained by Anadarko and was responsible for inspecting the
cable trays installed by W-I as well as the supports that
hold the cable tray racks, which were welded and put in place
by Dolphin. They say Paloma must be made a defendant because
it bears potential liability for the injuries suffered by
Motion for Leave to Amend is not opposed by the Defendants.
However, the deadline to amend pleadings has passed and so
consent by the parties does not operate to allow the
amendment. Instead, the District Judge instructed that the
Plaintiffs set the Motion for Leave to Amend before the
Standard to Amend Pleadings after Deadline
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(2), when the time
period for amending a pleading as a matter of course has
passed, a party may amend its pleadings by consent of the
parties or by leave of court. However, when the court ordered
deadline for amending pleadings has passed, an amended
pleading will be allowed “only for good cause and with
the judge's consent.” Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 16(b)(2);
see S&W Enterprises, L.L.C. v. SouthTrust Bank of
Alabama, NA, 315 F.3d 533, 536 (5th Cir. 2003)
(“We take this opportunity to make clear that Rule
16(b) governs amendment of pleadings after a scheduling order
deadline has expired.”). In determining whether the
movant has shown good cause, the Court considers “(1)
the explanation for the failure to [timely move for leave to
amend]; (2) the importance of the [amendment]; (3) potential
prejudice in allowing the [amendment]; and (4) the
availability of a continuance to cure such prejudice.'
” S&W Enterprises, 315 F.3d at 536
(quoting Reliance Ins. Co. v. Louisiana Land & Expl.
Co., 110 F.3d 253, 257 (5th Cir. 1997)) (alterations in
original). Thus, in S&W Enterprises, the Fifth
Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of leave to
amend because the movant had offered “effectively no
explanation, ” additional discovery would be required,
and a continuance would unnecessarily delay the trial.
Id. at 536-37; see Santacruz v. Allstate Texas
Lloyd's, Inc., 590 Fed.Appx. 384, 389 (5th Cir.
2014) (affirming the district court's denial of a motion
for leave to amend the complaint to add a breach of contract
claim filed four months after the scheduling order deadline
passed where the amendment would reopen discovery and permit
the refiling of a dispositive motion).
Court finds that the Plaintiffs have established good cause
for their proposed amendment. Plaintiffs' explanation for
failing to amend prior to the May 4, 2017, pleading amendment
deadline is that Plaintiffs did not know the identity of
Paloma at that time. Plaintiffs explain that the parties have
been working together to coordinate depositions since the
scheduling order was issued. It was not until the depositions
taken in October 2017 that Plaintiffs learned of Paloma's
role. The Court finds no reason to suspect undue delay.
Court next considers the importance of the amendment and
finds that the amendment is important to ensure the presence
in this lawsuit of all parties that may bear responsibility
for the injuries Plaintiffs claim to have suffered as a
result of the August 13, 2016, accident. As to potential
prejudice, the Court notes that the defendants do not oppose
the proposed amendment. Thus, it appears that the current
parties do not believe they will suffer any prejudice.
Presumably the addition of Paloma will require some
additional discovery to determine its role. But Plaintiffs
underscore that no new theories of liability or causes of
action will be raised, and they argue that numerous
depositions or extensive discovery will not be required by
the amendment. Trial in this matter is set for March 2, 2018.
The discovery cutoff is January 1, 2018. While there is not
much time left, if the parties move quickly it is possible
they can be prepared for trial in two and a half months. Of
course, Paloma is not present in this matter to argue its
position on potential prejudice. Nonetheless, the Court finds
the importance of the amendment to a just resolution of the
dispute outweighs the potential prejudice to Paloma.
Moreover, to the extent Paloma needs additional time to
prepare for trial, the District Court may be willing to ...