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Johnson v. Predator Trucking, LLC

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

February 14, 2014

ROBERT JOHNSON, Plaintiff
v.
PREDATOR TRUCKING, LLC; and MICHAEL PAREJA, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM

SYLVIA H. RAMBO, District Judge.

In this civil action invoking this court's diversity jurisdiction, Plaintiff has sued Defendants for injuries allegedly sustained as a result of an incident involving a tractor and trailer allegedly operated by Defendant Pareja and owned by Defendant Pareja's employer, Defendant Predator Trucking. Presently before the court is Plaintiff's motion for leave to file an amended complaint. (Doc. 26.) For the reasons stated herein, Plaintiff's motion will be granted.

I. Background

In this memorandum, the court sets forth only the factual and procedural background necessary to explain its ruling.

A. Plaintiff's Complaint and Defendants' Answer

On June 20, 2013, Plaintiff filed a complaint against Defendant Pareja sounding in negligence (Count I), and against Defendant Predator Trucking sounding in negligence based on vicarious liability (Count II) and negligent hiring/retention/supervision (Count III). (Doc. 1.) On August 30, 2013, Defendants answered the complaint and asserted eleven "affirmative defenses" to liability. (Doc. 10.) The parties are currently engaged in fact discovery, which is set to conclude on June 16, 2014. ( See Doc. 15.)

As asserted in the complaint, this case concerns an accident that occurred on January 3, 2012, at Beck Aluminum Alloy LTD's recycling center, located within the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Defendant Pareja, employed by Defendant Predator Trucking, was operating a vehicle, owned by Defendant Predator Trucking. The vehicle had been backed into the Beck Aluminum facility as the freight was being unloaded. Defendant Pareja allegedly caused the vehicle to move forward, which resulted in the rear tires of the trailer striking Plaintiff, who was operating a forklift near Defendant Pareja's vehicle. Plaintiff allegedly suffered serious injuries as a result of the incident. Defendants admit that Defendant Predator Trucking both employed Defendant Pareja and owned the vehicle Defendant Pareja was operating. (Doc. 10, ΒΆΒΆ 5, 6.)

B. Plaintiff's Amended Complaint

On January 2, 2014, Plaintiff filed a motion for leave to file an amended complaint. (Doc. 26.) In his motion, Plaintiff avers that, based on the answers he had received from Defendants, he believes that: (1) more than one employer was responsible for hiring, training, and supervising Defendant Pareja; (2) Defendant Pareja was using his mobile phone while operating the tractor; (3) Defendant Pareja was operating the vehicle in violation of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations; and (4) more than one entity was responsible for entrusting its shipment to Defendant Predator Trucking. ( See Doc. 26.) Relevant to the matter sub judice , Plaintiff's proposed amended complaint, submitted pursuant to Local Rule 15.1, contained the following allegations related to his request to add Ricksant LLC ("Ricksant") as a defendant to the action:

5. Defendant, Ricksant, LLC, is a limited liability company, doing business as Klein Recycling (hereinafter referred to as Ricksant, LLC), organized under the laws of New Jersey with offices at 2156 Camplain Road, Hillsborough, New Jersey 08844.
* * *
7. It is believed that after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery, there will be evidentiary support to show that at all times relevant hereto, Defendant Ricksant, LLC was the co-supervisor, co-principal, or co-employer of Defendant, Michael Pareja.
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9. It is believed that after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery, there will be evidentiary support to show that at all times relevant hereto Defendant, Michael Pareja was acting as the co-agent, ostensible co-agent, co-servant and/or co-employee of Defendant Ricksant, LLC, and was acting within the course and scope of ...

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