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Gonzalez-Marcano v. U.S. Airways Group, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

January 31, 2014

BRUNILDA GONZALEZ-MARCANO
v.
US AIRWAYS GROUP, INC., ET AL

MEMORANDUM

R. BARCLAY SURRICK, District Judge.

Presently before the Court are Defendant U.S. Airways Group, Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 1-1), Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint (ECF No. 1-15), and Plaintiff's Motion for Fees and Expenses (ECF No. 1-21). For the following reasons, Plaintiff's Motions for Leave to File an Amended Complaint will be granted, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss will be dismissed, and Plaintiff's Motion for Fees and Expenses will be denied.

I. BACKGROUND

On December 8, 2011, Plaintiff filed this diversity action against U.S. Airways Group, Inc. ("US Airways Group"), John Doe, Inc., and ABC Insurance Company in the District Court for the District of Puerto Rico. (Compl., ECF No. 1-1.)[1] Plaintiff alleges that on December 13, 2010, due to U.S. Airways Group's negligence, she suffered an injury to her left ankle during a U.S. Airways flight from San Juan, Puerto Rico to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Compl. ¶¶ 8-11.) Plaintiff claims to have incurred damages as a result of her ankle injury. ( Id. ¶¶ 16-21.)

Plaintiff first attempted to serve U.S. Airways Group with the Complaint on January 23, 2012. (ECF No. 1-6.) On March 1, 2012, U.S. Airways Group filed a motion to quash service of process. ( Id. ) Plaintiff then mailed a waiver of service to Defendant on March 26, 2012. (Pl.'s Mot. for Fees 1, ECF No. 1-21.) On April 3, 2012, U.S. Airways Group's motion to quash was granted by the Honorable Juan M. Perez-Gimenez, and Plaintiff was granted 15 days from the issuance of a new summons to serve U.S. Airways Group. Gonzalez-Marcano v. U.S. Airways Group, Inc., No. 11-2179, (D.P.R.) at ECF No. 12. A new summons as to U.S. Airways Group was issued on April 4, 2012. (ECF No. 1-10.) Defendant was not served until April 30, 2012. (ECF No. 1-18.)

On April 26, 2012, U.S. Airways Group filed this Motion to Dismiss, after Plaintiff failed to serve U.S. Airways Group within the required period. (US Airways Grp.'s Mot., ECF No. 1-11.) U.S. Airways Group argues that service was untimely and that personal jurisdiction is lacking. In support of this argument, U.S. Airways Group notes that it does not do business in Puerto Rico, and that the aircraft on which Plaintiff was injured is not operated by it, but by its wholly-owned subsidiary, U.S. Airways, Inc. ( Id. at ¶¶ 5, 8.) Plaintiff filed a Response in opposition to U.S. Airways Group's Motion on May 16, 2012. (Pl.'s Resp., ECF No. 1-20.) On May 22, 2012, U.S. Airways Group replied to Plaintiff's Response. (US Airways Group's Reply, ECF No. 1-24.)

On May 3, 2012, Plaintiff filed the instant Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint, with the proposed amended complaint attached. (Pl.'s Mot. to Amend, ECF No. 1-15.) U.S. Airways Group filed a Response in opposition to Plaintiff's Motion on May 14, 2012. (US Airways Grp.'s Resp., ECF No. 1-19.)

On May 16, 2012, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Payment of Fees and Expenses under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(d)(2). (Pl.'s Mot. for Fees.) Plaintiff seeks reimbursement for the fees that it incurred because U.S. Airways Group refused to waive service of process. ( Id. at 3.) U.S. Airways Group filed a Response in opposition to Plaintiff's Motion for Fees on July 17, 2013. (US Airways Grp.'s Resp. Mot. for Fees, ECF No. 4.)

On June 25, 2013, this case was transferred to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). (ECF No. 1-28.)

II. PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO AMEND

A. Arguments

Plaintiff seeks to amend the Complaint, substituting U.S. Airways, Inc. as a defendant for the currently named defendant John Doe, Inc. (Pl.'s Mot. to Amend 3.) If permitted to amend, Plaintiff also seeks to voluntarily dismiss U.S. Airways Group as defendant. ( Id. ) Plaintiff contends that the Puerto Rican Rules of Civil Procedure ("PRRCP") and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allow for such a substitution and that such substitution is timely because it relates back to the filing of the Complaint. U.S. Airways Group argues otherwise, claiming that Plaintiff is time-barred from substituting U.S. Airways, Inc. in as a defendant. (US Airways Grp.'s Resp. at ¶¶ 5-6.) We address this Motion first because if Plaintiff is granted leave to amend, U.S. Airways Group's Motion will be moot.

B. Legal Standard

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a) requires that leave to amend the pleadings be granted freely "when justice so requires." Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2); see also Long v. Wilson, 393 F.3d 390, 400 (3d Cir. 2004). However, "[t]he policy favoring liberal amendment of pleadings is not... unbounded." Dole v. Arco Chem. Co., 921 F.2d 484, 487 (3d Cir. 1990). A district court may deny leave to amend a complaint where "it is apparent from the record that (1) the moving party has demonstrated undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motives, (2) the amendment would be futile, or (3) the amendment would prejudice the other party." Lake v. Arnold, 232 F.3d 360, 373 (3d Cir. 2000) (citing Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, ...


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