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McCattle Co. LLC v. Range Louisiana Operating, LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division

December 21, 2018

DIAMOND MCCATTLE CO. LLC, ET AL
v.
RANGE LOUISIANA OPERATING LLC

          KAREN L. HAYES JUDGE

          RULING

          TERRY A. DOUGHTY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On January 12, 2018, Plaintiffs Diamond McCattle Co. LLC and BWW Holdings, LLC (“Plaintiffs”) filed a Petition for Judicial Relief from Sub-Surface Trespass in the 2nd Judicial District Court, Jackson Parish, Louisiana, against Defendant Range Louisiana Operating, LLC (“Range”) [Doc. No. 1-1]. Plaintiffs allege that Range drilled a well, the “Tri Delta 13-12H Well” (Serial No. 250514), “horizontally under and through Plaintiffs&#39');">39; land without Plaintiffs&#39');">39; knowledge” or consent [Id. ¶ 5]. On February 23, 2018, Range removed this matter to federal court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1332 [Doc. No. 1].

         On September 12, 2018, Plaintiffs moved this Court for leave to file their First Amended and Completely Restated Complaint (hereinafter “the amended complaint”), to add James Browning (“Browning”) as an additional defendant [Doc. No. 26]. According to Plaintiffs, Browning was hired by Range to be an on-site drilling supervisor, and Browning, in fact, acted as the on-site drilling supervisor for the drilling of the Tri-Delta 13-12H Well [Doc. No. 26-1, ¶¶ 2, 4]. Range filed an opposition on October 3, 2018 [Doc. No. 34].

         Plaintiffs have also filed a motion to remand this action to the 2nd Judicial District Court for lack of subject matter jurisdiction [Doc. No. 35]. The motion to remand presupposes the addition of Browning as a non-diverse defendant, which destroys federal jurisdiction. Range filed an opposition on November 5, 2018 [Doc. No. 37]. Plaintiffs filed a reply on November 13, 2018 [Doc. No. 38].

         On November 14, 2018, the Magistrate Judge issued a Memorandum Order denying the Plaintiffs&#39');">39; motion for leave of court to file the amended complaint [Doc. No. 39');">39]. That same date, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation (hereinafter “the Report”) recommending that Plaintiffs&#39');">39; motion to remand be denied [Doc. No. 40], explaining that the denial of Plaintiffs&#39');">39; motion for leave of court to file the amended complaint eliminates the basis for their motion to remand.

         On November 28, 2018, Plaintiffs filed an appeal of the Magistrate Judge&#39');">39;s Memorandum Order denying their motion for leave of court to file the amended complaint and also filed an objection to the Report recommending that their motion to remand be denied [Doc. No. 41].

         On December 17, 2018, Range filed a Memorandum in Opposition to the Appeal [Doc. No. 44] and a Response to Plaintiff&#39');">39;s Objection to the Report and Recommendation [Doc. No. 45]. Plaintiffs filed a Reply on December 20, 2018 [Doc. No. 46].

         Finding that the Memorandum Order denying Plaintiffs&#39');">39; motion for leave to file the amended complaint is clearly erroneous and contrary to the law, the Court GRANTS Plaintiffs&#39');">39; appeal and SETS ASIDE the Magistrate Judge&#39');">39;s Memorandum Order. The Court orders that the First Amended and Completely Restated Complaint [Doc. No. 26-1] be FILED. Having conducted a de novo review, the Court DECLINES to adopt the Magistrate Judge&#39');">39;s Report and Recommendation and GRANTS Plaintiffs&#39');">39; motion to remand [Doc. No. 35].

         I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a), this Court&#39');">39;s review of the Magistrate Judge&#39');">39;s Memorandum Order denying Plaintiffs&#39');">39; motion for leave to file the amended complaint is subject to the clearly erroneous or contrary to law standard:

(a) Nondispositive Matters. When a pretrial matter not dispositive of a party&#39');">39;s claim or defense is referred to a magistrate judge to hear and decide, the magistrate judge must promptly conduct the required proceedings, and, when appropriate, issue a written order stating the decision. A party may serve and file objections to the order within 14 days after being served with a copy. A party may not assign as error a defect in the order not timely objected to. The district judge in the case must consider timely objections and modify or set aside any part of the order that is clearly erroneous or is contrary to law.

         With respect to the Memorandum Order, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), “[a] judge of the court may reconsider any pretrial matter under this subparagraph (A) where it has been shown that the magistrate judge&#39');">39;s order is clearly erroneous or contrary to law.”

         Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3), this Court&#39');">39;s review of the Report is de novo:

(3) Resolving Objections
The district judge must determine de novo any part of the magistrate judge&#39');">39;s disposition that has been properly objected to. The district judge may accept, reject, or modify the recommended disposition; receive further evidence; or return the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions.

         With respect to the Report, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), “[a] judge of the court shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the [magistrate judge&#39');">39;s] report [and recommendation] or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made.” Section 636(b)(1) further states “[a] judge of the court may accept, reject or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge. The judge may also receive further evidence or recommit the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions.” See also Hernandez v. Estelle, 711 F.2d 619, 620 (5th Cir. 1983).

         II. LAW AND ANALYSIS

         A. Legal Standard on a Motion to Amend

         Rule 15(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that leave to amend “shall be freely given when justice so requires”. The Fifth Circuit has strictly followed this rule, stating that “leave to amend should be granted liberally….” Robertson v. Plano City of Tex., 70 F.3d 21, 22 (5th Cir. 1995). However, when an amendment after removal from state court would destroy subject matter jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1447(e) applies. Hensgens v. Deere & Co., 833 F.2d 1179, 1182 (5th Cir. 1987). Section 1447(e) vests broad discretion in the trial court by expressly ...


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