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Rivera v. Robinson

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

August 27, 2019

MELISSA RIVERA AND RICARDO SILVA, JR.
v.
JENNIFER ROBINSON AND HER INSURER, ET AL

         SECTION: "S" (4)

          ORDER AND REASONS

          MARY ANN VIAL LEMMON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiffs' Objections (Rec. Doc. 68) to the Magistrate's Order and Reasons of July 29, 2019 (Rec. Doc. 67) are SUSTAINED, and the Magistrate Judge's ruling is reversed.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The facts of this case have been set forth in prior orders of the court and the Magistrate Judge's Order and Reasons and thus are not restated here. See Rec. Docs. 26, 57, 67. Plaintiffs object to the Magistrate Judge's ruling denying them leave to amend their complaint to add new and specific allegations regarding medications which had been prescribed to defendant Jennifer Robinson ("defendant") at the time of the accident. Under the operative scheduling order, amendments to pleadings were due not later than May 28, 2019. On July 2, 2019, plaintiffs moved to amend and supplement their pleadings. The proposed amendment includes allegations that defendant was negligent in causing the fatality in this case in taking, or failing to take as directed, certain prescription medications, which plaintiffs further allege affect vision and motor control. The Magistrate Judge concluded that good cause did not exist under Federal Rule 16(b) to allow plaintiffs' proposed amendment of pleadings beyond the deadline imposed by the scheduling order, and thus did not reach the requirements of Federal Rule 15(a)(2).

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Standard of Review

         An order issued by a magistrate judge concerning non-dispositive pretrial matters, such as an order on a motion for leave to file an amended complaint, is reviewed by the district court under the clearly erroneous standard. See Perales v. Sasilla, 950 F.2d 1066, 1070 (5th Cir.1992); 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) (2009).

         B. Applicable Law

         "Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16(b) governs amendment of pleadings once a scheduling order has been issued by the district court." S&W Enterprises, L.L.C. v. SouthTrust Bank of Alabama, NA, 315 F.3d 533, 535 (5th Cir. 2003). Rule 16(b) mandates that a scheduling order “shall not be modified except upon a showing of good cause and by leave of the district judge.” "Only upon the movant's demonstration of good cause to modify the scheduling order will the more liberal standard of Rule 15(a) apply to the district court's decision to grant or deny leave." S&W Enters., 315 F.3d at 536 (5th Cir. 2003).

         In determining whether good cause exists for an untimely motion to amend pleadings, courts 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. S & W Enterprises, 315 F.3d at 536.

         If good cause for untimeliness is established, the court then considers whether the amendment should be allowed under the standard of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a). S & W Enters., 315 F.3d at 536.

         Under Federal Rule 15(a)(2), “a party may amend its pleading only with the opposing party's consent or the court's leave. The court should freely give leave when justice so requires.” The court has discretion on whether to grant or deny leave to amend. Union Planters Nat. Leasing, Inc. v. Woods, 687 F.2d 117, 121 (5th Cir. 1982). In deciding whether to grant leave to file an amended pleading under Rule 15(a), a district court may consider factors such as undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on the part of the movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing party, and futility of amendment. Id.

         C. Application ...


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