United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
ZURICH NORTH AMERICAN INS. CO., et al., Plaintiffs
JOSE A. RODRIGUEZ, et al., Defendants
OPINION & ORDER ON MOTION TO AMEND COMPLAINT
BACKGROUND & PROCEDURAL HISTORY
case arises from a chain reaction collision on Interstate 80
during a snow storm on March 29, 2015. On March 17, 2017,
twelve days before the expiration of the statute of
limitations, Plaintiffs Zurich North American Insurance
Company, ao Minuteman Spill Response, LLC a/k/a and d/b/a
Minuteman Environmental Services and Minuteman Spill
Response, Inc. a/k/a and d/b/a Minuteman Environmental
Services filed a Complaint in the Court of Common Pleas of
Clinton County against Defendants Jose A. Rodriguez, Hunanyan
Garik, and Norayr Vardanyan, d/b/a VV Trucking.
Norayr Vardanyan d/b/a VV Trucking filed a notice of removal
on April 13, 2017, (Doc. 1) alleging diversity of citizenship
(Doc. 1, ¶¶1, 15). Answers were filed by Defendant
Norayr Vardanyan on April 20, 2017 (Doc. 3) and Defendant
Rodriquez on July 6, 2017 (Doc. 9). On August 3, 2017 Plaintiff
filed a Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint with a
proposed amended complaint attached (Doc. 13).
short version of the crash as gleaned from the proposed
amended complaint (Doc. 13-1, ¶8) is that Vehicle #1
(Minuteman, insured by Zurich) was stopped on the side of the
road during a snow squall. Vehicle #2 (owned by Rodriguez)
crashed into Vehicle #1. Then Vehicle #3 (Owned by Norayr
Vardanyan dba VV Trucking, and driven by either Garik
Hunanyan or Vardan Vardanyan) crashed into Vehicle #2,
pushing it again into Vehicle #1. According to the Motion to
Amend (Doc. 13, ¶7) the police report of the accident
states that Hunanyan Garik was the driver and sole occupant
of vehicle #3. According to the Motion to Amend (Doc. 13,
¶6) “Defendant's [sic] only disclosed that
Hunanyan Garik was not the driver of the truck that caused
the damage to Plaintiff's insured's vehicle in its
[sic] 26a disclosures.”
Motion to Amend the Complaint does not comply with Local Rule
15.1(b)(2) which directs that:
The party filing the motion requesting leave to file an
amended pleading shall provide: (1) the proposed amended
pleading as set forth in subsection (a) of this rule, and (2)
a copy of the original pleading in which stricken
material has been lined through and any new material has been
inserted and underlined or set forth in boldfaced type
failure, and the lack of specificity in Plaintiffs'
motion (Doc. 13, pp. 1-2) and supporting brief (Doc. 13, pp.
3-5), required the court to search the Original Complaint
(Doc. 1), the Proposed Amended Complaint (Doc. 13-1), and the
Joint Case Management Plan (Doc. 7) to determine what changes
were proposed. The Motion to Amend the Complaint states that
Plaintiffs intend to “add parties [sic] that were not
named in the Original Complaint.” (Doc. 13, ¶5).
My review of the Proposed Amended Complaint however can only
find one additional party, Vardan Vardanyan (alleging that he
might be the driver of vehicle #3). I also note that, in the
Joint Case Management Plan, Defendant Rodriguez denies being
the driver of vehicle #2 but apparently does not deny being
the owner. In both their Original Complaint (Doc.
1-1, p. 7, ¶11) and proposed Amended Complaint (Doc.
13-1, ¶8), Plaintiffs claim that Defendant Rodriguez was
both the owner and driver of vehicle #2.
their Motion to Amend (Doc. 13), Plaintiffs have proffered
that the police report filed after this accident names
Hunanyan Garik as the sole occupant and also the driver of
vehicle #3; and that despite two years of discussions between
the insurance carriers for the parties, Plaintiffs first
learned of the existence of the proposed additional defendant
Vardan Vardanyan (the probable driver of vehicle #3) when the
Rule 26 disclosure was filed by Defendant Norayr Vardanyan
(the owner of vehicle #3). Plaintiffs allege that they
promptly filed the Motion for Leave to Amend on August 10,
2017 but do not disclose when the Rule 26(a) Disclosure was
received. Plaintiffs' Motion to Amend is more than two
years from the occurrence of the incident that gives rise to
response to Plaintiffs' Motion to Amend Defendant Norayr
Vardanyan d/b/a VV Trucking filed a Brief in Opposition
raising only one objection - that Plaintiffs are barred from
adding a new defendant based on the statute of limitations.
(Doc.16). Defendant Rodriguez then filed a letter joining in
the objection for the same reason. (Doc.17).
discussion of a procedural question should begin with and be
guided by Rule 1 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Rule 1 provides that the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
“should be construed, administered, and employed by the
court and the parties to secure the just, speedy,
and inexpensive determination of every action and proceeding.
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs amended
pleadings. Pursuant to this rule, “a party may amend
its pleading only with the opposing party's written
consent or the court's leave. (emphasis
added)” Furthermore, this rule expressly provides that,
“[t]he court should freely give leave [to amend]
when justice so requires.” (emphasis added).
However, upon review of Plaintiffs' motion, and
Defendants' response, I find that I need not conduct a
merits analysis of whether justice requires an amended
complaint because Defendants do not have standing to object
to the addition of a new defendant by raising a statute of
DEFENDANT SLACK STANDING TO RAISE AN AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSE ...