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Harbison v. Louisiana-Pacific Corporation

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

February 27, 2014

WILLIAM HARBISON, individually and on behalf of all other similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
LOUISIANA-PACIFIC CORPORATION, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

ARTHUR J. SCHWAB, District Judge.

Plaintiff filed a Motion to Amend the First Amended Complaint and Brief in Support (doc. nos. 64-65) in this putative class action lawsuit. Defendant filed a Brief in Opposition (doc. no. 67) and Plaintiff filed a Reply Brief. Doc. no. 69.

On February 19, 2014, after carefully considering the matters raised in those filings, this Court denied Plaintiff's Motion to Amend the First Amended Complaint by way of Court Order (doc. no. 70), and this Opinion sets for the Court's reasons for so ruling.

I. Standard of Review

Rule 15 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows a plaintiff to amend a complaint once, as of right, but further provides that a party may seek the Court's permission to amend a pleading and that such permission "should freely [be given] when justice so requires." Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2).[1]

"Among the grounds that could justify a denial of leave to amend are undue delay, bad faith, dilatory motive, prejudice, and futility." Shane v. Fauver , 213 F.3d 113, 115 (3d Cir. 2000). "While [the] Rule also states that leave to amend should be "freely given, " a district court has discretion to deny a request to amend if 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." Fraser v. Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co. , 352 F.3d 107, 116 (3d Cir. 2003).

II. Background and Relevant Procedural History

This putative class action commenced on June 14, 2013, when Plaintiff filed a Complaint on his behalf and on the behalf of all others similarly situated against Defendant for defective TrimBoard that Defendant "designed, marketed, advertised, warranted, and sold[.]" Doc. no. 1, ΒΆ 1. The Complaint set forth a claim for Breach of Express Warranty (as well as request for declaratory relief), and a copy of an express warranty was attached to the Complaint. See doc. nos. 1 and 1-2. Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss (doc. no. 16) and, on December 9, 2013, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint. Doc. no. 25. Notably, the Amended Complaint added some additional factual allegations but continued to assert a Claim for Breach of Express Warranty and requested (among other things) declaratory relief. Id.

On, December 11, 2013, the Court held an initial case management conference. On December 23, 2013, Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint predicated upon Rule 12(b)(6). Doc. no. 41. After the matter was fully briefed by the parties, on February 6, 2014, the Court issued an Opinion and Order granting in part, and denying in part, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss. Doc. nos. 61-62. The Court's Order completely denied Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Count I of the Amended Complaint- thereby allowing Plaintiff's case to proceed on the Breach of Express Warranty claim- and only granting a portion of Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Count II- thereby allowing Plaintiff to obtain most of the relief requested. Doc. no. 62.

On February 10, 2013, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Amend the First Amended Complaint and Brief in Support. Doc. nos. 64-65. As noted above, after all briefing was completed, this Court denied the Motion to Amend. Doc. no. 70.

III. Discussion

As noted above, a plaintiff is permitted to amend a complaint once, as of right, but after that, F.R.Civ.P. 15 requires that a party seek the Court's permission to amend a pleading. The Rule also notes that such permission "should freely [be given] when justice so requires."

Case law surrounding the right to amend a Complaint indicates that leave to amend a Complaint may be denied where the amendment would be futile. Massarsky v. General Motors Corp. , 706 F.2d 111, 125 (3d Cir.), cert. den. , 464 U.S. 937 (1983). A plaintiff's motion to amend a complaint for the second time could be denied, despite the plaintiff's argument that there was no undue delay or prejudice to the defendants, where amendment would have been futile. Hollis-Arrington v. PHH Mortg. Corp ., 205 Fed.Appx. 48, 54 (3d Cir. 2006).

The Court's Opinion regarding Defendant's Motion to Dismiss analyzed Pennsylvania's breach of express warranty case law, and, disagreeing with Defendant's position, concluded that under the facts presented in the Amended Complaint- which the Court accepted as true for purposes of deciding the 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss- ...


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