United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
TRICHE MILAZZO JUDGE
ORDER AND REASONS
VAN MEERVELD UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
the Court is the Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint
filed by plaintiff Roderick Hickman. (Rec. Doc. 7). For the
following reasons, the motion is GRANTED.
lawsuit arises out of a car accident that occurred on
September 1, 2016, when a vehicle operated by defendant
Samuel Taylor allegedly made a wide right turn and struck the
vehicle in which Mr. Hickman was a passenger. Mr. Hickman
alleges he suffered debilitating damages and filed this
lawsuit on August 16, 2017, against Mr. Taylor as well as
Hirschbach Motor Lines, Inc. (the owner of the vehicle Mr.
Taylor was driving, hereinafter “Hirschbach”),
and Great West Casualty Company (who insured the vehicle Mr.
Taylor was driving, hereinafter “GWCC” and with
Mr. Taylor and Hirschbach, “Defendants”)). Mr.
Hickman's Petition alleged that the vehicle in which he
was a passenger was owned by Brandon Batiste. However, Mr.
Batiste was not made a defendant.
removed the suit to this Court on September 6, 2017, and then
filed their Answer on either September 8, 2017 or September
21, 2017. Among the defenses asserted in the Answer,
defendants averred that “[a]dditionally and/or
alternatively, all alleged damages and/or injuries made the
subject of this litigation were proximately caused solely and
entirely by the negligence of Brandon Batiste, the driver of
the vehicle in which the plaintiff was a passenger, and as
such the defendant bears no liability to the
Hickman did not file a motion to remand. On November 30,
2017, Mr. Hickman filed the present Motion for Leave to Amend
his Complaint seeking to join Mr. Batiste and Mr.
Batiste's insurer as defendants. Like Mr. Hickman, Mr.
Batiste resides in Louisiana. If he is joined to this lawsuit
as a defendant, this Court will lose diversity jurisdiction
over the matter.
Standard for Amending Pleadings
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. “The court should freely
give leave when justice so requires.” Fed. R. Civ.
Proc. 15(a)(2). Thus, the United States Court of Appeals for
the Fifth Circuit instructs that the “district court
must possess a ‘substantial reason' to deny a
request for leave to amend.” Smith v. EMC
Corp., 393 F.3d 590, 595 (5th Cir. 2004). Nonetheless,
“that generous standard is tempered by the necessary
power of a district court to manage a case.”
Yumilicious Franchise, L.L.C. v. Barrie, 819 F.3d
170, 177 (5th Cir. 2016) (quoting Schiller v. Physicians
Res. Grp. Inc., 342 F.3d 563, 566 (5th Cir. 2003)). The
court may consider numerous factors when deciding whether to
grant a motion for leave to amend, including “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 by
virtue of allowance of the amendment, and futility of the
amendment.” Schiller v. Physicians Res. Grp.
Inc., 342 F.3d 563, 566 (5th Cir. 2003).
after removal the plaintiff seeks to join additional
defendants whose joinder would destroy subject matter
jurisdiction, the court may deny joinder, or permit joinder
and remand the action to the State court.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 1447(e). Because the Court's decision on a motion
for leave to amend to add a non-diverse defendant will affect
its jurisdiction over the matter, the Court must
“scrutinize that amendment more closely than an
ordinary amendment.” Hensgens v. Deere &
Co., 833 F.2d 1179, 1182 (5th Cir. 1987). In such cases,
“courts must balance the defendant's interest in
retaining the federal forum with plaintiff's competing
interest in avoiding parallel federal/state lawsuits.”
Williams v. Carmean, No. CIV. A. 99-1095, 1999 WL
717645, at *1 (E.D. La. Sept. 13, 1999). The Fifth Circuit
has also instructed courts to consider “the extent to
which the purpose of the amendment is to defeat federal
jurisdiction, whether plaintiff has been dilatory in asking
for amendment, whether plaintiff will be significantly
injured if amendment is not allowed, and any other factors
bearing on the equities.” Hensgens, 833 F.2d
Primary Purpose of the Amendment
Plaintiff points out, in determining the primary purpose of
the amendment courts have held that, “[a]s long as the
plaintiff states a valid claim against the new defendants,
the principal purpose is not to destroy diversity
jurisdiction.” Jackson v. Wal-Mart Stores,
Inc., No. CIV. A. 03-2184, 2003 WL 22533619, at *2 (E.D.
La. Nov. 6, 2003). For example, in Jackson, the
court found the plaintiff's primary purpose was not to
defeat diversity jurisdiction where the original complaint
had sued Walmart Stores, Inc. and the “Jane Doe”
employee that allegedly caused plaintiff's injury and the
amendment sought to replace the fictitious name with the
non-diverse employee once she had been identified.
Id. The amendment was allowed. Id. In
contrast, in Nuccio v. KFC Nat. Mgmt. Co., the court
found that plaintiff's primary motive was to defeat
diversity where plaintiff had no valid basis for a claim
against non-diverse property owner/lessor as a defendant in a
slip and fall case because the owner/lessor did not have
control over the building where the fall allegedly occurred.
No. CIV. A. 95-2586, 1996 WL 137637, at *1 (E.D. La. Mar. 25,
1996). The proposed amendment ...