United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
D. Mariani United States District Judge
before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Amend
its Complaint, (Doc. 120). The Motion primarily seeks to add
four additional patterns to the list of copyrighted pool
liner patterns that Plaintiff asserts Defendant infringed
upon by allegedly printing without Plaintiffs consent.
Defendant opposes this Motion, and, in the alternative,
requests that, if Plaintiff is allowed to amend its
Complaint, the Court should reopen discovery with respect to
the new allegations. (Doc. 123). For the reasons that follow,
the Court will grant Plaintiffs Motion to Amend its Complaint
and will also reopen fact discovery as it concerns these new
March 17, 2015, Plaintiff, Crestwood Membranes, Inc., d/b/a
i2M (12M"), filed a Complaint against Defendant,
Constant Services, Inc. ("CSI"). (Doc. 1). The
Complaint stemmed from a business relationship in the pool
liner industry and, as relevant here, alleged that CSI
infringed upon i2M's copyrights to two patterns used for
printing on swimming pool liners. The parties engaged in
various-and somewhat contentious-discovery up until May of
2016. By May 31, 2016, both parties had filed motions for
summary judgment. (Docs. 23, 56). Then, on August 5, 2016,
this Court referred the case to Magistrate Judge Saporito for
the purpose of conducting settlement negotiations. (Doc. 78).
Those negotiations were ultimately unsuccessful.
Court also referred both summary judgment motions to
Magistrate Judge Carlson for a Report and Recommendation
("R&R"). On February 3, 2017, the Magistrate
Judge issued an R&R concerning i2M's Motion for
Summary Judgment. (Doc. 95). On February 8, 2017, the
Magistrate Judge issued a second R&R, this one concerning
CSi's Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. 96). Upon review
of the R&Rs, the Court ultimately resolved the two
summary judgment motions, (Docs. 104, 107, 108), and then set
a trial date of January 29, 2018. (Doc. 113).
to setting a trial date, i2M filed the present motion on
April 23, 2017, seeking to amend its Complaint to add four
new copyrighted patterns to the lists of patterns it alleges
that CSI infringed. In the brief accompanying the Motion, i2M
asserts that it first became aware that CSI infringed upon
the four additional copyrighted patterns when i2M received a
group of documents from CSI on May 31, 2016. (Doc. 120-1 at
3). i2M further contends that it first "shared its
conclusions about CSI's infringement of at least four
additional i2M-owned patterns" with CSI at the
settlement negotiations in August of 2016. (Id. at
Rule of Civil Procedure 15 provides that a party may amend
their complaint once within twenty-one days of service.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1). After that time, "a party may
amend its pleading only with the opposing party's written
consent or the court's leave. The court should freely
give leave when justice so requires." Fed.R.Civ.P.
15(a)(2). The United States Court of Appeals for the Third
Circuit has adopted a liberal approach to the amendment of
pleadings in order to ensure that 'a particular claim
will be decided on the merits rather than on
technicalities."' Payne v. Duncan, 2016 WL
2859612, at *1 (M.D. Pa. 2016) (quoting Dole v. Arco
Chem. Co., 921 F.2d 484, 486-87 (3d Cir. 1990)). Indeed,
the Third Circuit has noted that "[g]enerally, Rule 15
motions should be granted, " United States ex rel.
Customs Fraud Investigations, LLC v. Victaulic Co., 839
F.3d 242, 249 (3d Cir. 2016), and that "the pleading
philosophy of the Rules counsels in favor of liberally
permitting amendments to a complaint" or pleading,
CMR D.N. Corp. v. City of Phila., 703 F.3d 612, 629
(3d Cir. 2013).
"[t]here are three instances when a court typically may
exercise its discretion to deny a Rule 15(a) motion for leave
to amend: when '(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.'" United States ex rel. Customs
Fraud Investigations, 839 F.3d at 249 (quoting
United States ex rel. Schumann v. Astrazeneca Pharma.
LP., 769 F.3d 837, 849 (3d Cir. 2014)). "[Prejudice
to the nonmoving party is the touchstone for the denial of
the amendment." Dole, 921 F.2d at 488
(quotation marks omitted).
Brief in Opposition, CSI argues that i2M's motion should
be denied because (1) i2M's motion was unduly delayed,
and (2) granting i2M's motion would cause prejudice to
The Court will address each of CSf's arguments in turn.
alone will not constitute grounds for denial" of a
motion for leave to amend. Bjorgung v. Whitetail Resort,
LP, 550 F.3d 263, 266 (3d Cir. 2008) (citing Cureton
v. Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Ass'n, 252 F.3d
267, 273 (3d Cir. 2001)). Undue delay, however, may justify a
denial of a motion for leave to amend. United States ex
rel. Customs Fraud Investigations, 839 F.3d at 249.
"Delay becomes 'undue, ' and thereby creates
grounds for the district court to refuse leave, when it
places an unwarranted burden on the court or when the
plaintiff has had previous opportunities to amend."
Bjorgung, 550 F.3d at 266. Nevertheless, "[t]he
passage of time, without more, does not require that a motion
to amend a complaint be denied." Adams v. Gould
Inc., 739 F.2d 858, 868 (3d Cir. 1984).
there has been some delay in the filing of the present
motion, the Court cannot say that it rises to the level of
undue delay and requires the Court to deny i2M's motion.
According to i2M, it first came to believe that CSI printed
four other patterns for which i2M possessed the copyrights to
on May 31, 2016, when CSI turned over certain documents to
i2M. (Doc. 120-1 at 3). CSI agrees that it turned over
documents it obtained from a third party on this date. (Doc.
123 at 6). i2M then made CSI aware during settlement
negotiations that i2M believed it had additional claims
against CSI. (Doc. 120-1 at 4; Doc. 123 at 6). Then, in
December of 2016, approximately two months after settlement
negotiations failed, i2M moved to supplement the record on
its Motion for Summary Judgment to include information about
the other four patterns. (Doc. 91). Thereafter, on February
3, 2017, Magistrate Judge Carlson issued an R&R which
explicitly did not consider this additional material. (Doc.
95 at 7). The R&R advised the parties that, if they felt
"that recent discovery has broadened their dispute, they
should seek to amend their pleadings, and conduct orderly
discovery on these newly disputed matters."
(Id.). Then, on March 10, 2017, this Court adopted
the R&R. (Doc. 104). Approximately six weeks later, i2M
filed the present Motion to Amend. (Doc. 120).
this timeline shows that there has been some delay in moving
to amend, the Court cannot say it is undue. Granting the
motion at this stage in the litigation will not burden the
Court. Although a trial date is set, that date is months
away, and there is still ample time for the parties to
conduct discovery on these additional matters. Thus, allowing
the current amendment will not postpone trial. Further, given
the nature of the amendment-adding ...