United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
EPL OIL & GAS, INC.
TANA EXPLORATION COMPANY, LLC.
ORDER AND REASONS
WELLS ROBY CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
the Court is a Motion for Leave to File its First
Amended and Supplemental Complaint (R. Doc. 20)
filed by the Plaintiff, EPL Oil & Gas, Inc. The motion is
unopposed. R. Doc. 127. The Motion was heard on the briefs on
September 5, 2018.
breach of contract action stemming from a failed oil well was
originally filed in the District Court pursuant to its
jurisdiction under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, 43
U.S.C. 1333, et eq. R. Doc. 1; January 25, 2018. The
original complaint alleges that Plaintiff and Defendant were
joint operators of an oil and gas lease, serial number OCS-G
33657 (“Lease”), located in the Outer Continental
Shelf off the coast of Louisiana. Id., p. 2.
Pursuant to oil exploration on the Lease, Defendant and
Plaintiff entered into an Operations Agreement, effective
March 1, 2013, and a subsequent Amendment to Participation
Agreement, effective April 24, 2014
(“Agreements”). Plaintiff alleges that, pursuant
to the Agreements, Defendant has not paid their proportionate
share of operating and drilling expenses incurred conducting
natural resource exploration on the Lease. Id.
Plaintiff claims Defendant owes $1, 997, 000.00 under the
Motion before the Court was filed by Plaintiff on August 16,
2018. R. Doc. 20. Plaintiff seeks leave of the Court to amend
their complaint to add an additional breach of contract claim
against Defendant pursuant to the Agreements. 20-4, p. 3. The
proposed amended complaint states that in May of 2018, four
months after the original complaint was filed, Plaintiff
proposed plugging and abandoning of the subject Lease.
Id. Plaintiff contends that they have fulfilled
their obligations under the Agreements, but that Defendant
has not paid its proportionate share of the plugging and
abandonment expenses according to the Agreements.
Id. Defendant has filed no opposition to the Motion.
Standard of Review
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
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)).
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)).
Scheduling Order states: “Amendments to pleadings,
third-party actions, cross-claims and counter-claims shall be
filed no later than MAY 14, 2018.” R.
Doc. 12, p. 5. The Scheduling Order also states that (1)
depositions for use at trial shall and all discovery shall be
completed no later than November 29, 2018; (2) the Final
Pre-Trial Conference will take place on January 7, 2019; and
(3) trial by jury will commence on January 28, 2019.
Id., p. 5-6. The Motion before the Court was filed
three months past the Scheduling Order's amended
pleadings deadline. Therefore, the Plaintiff must show good
cause for the proposed amendment under Rule 16(b)(4).
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, ...