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Abed-Rabuh v. Hoobrajh

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

January 4, 2018

ZAIDAN ABED-RABUH, Plaintiff,
v.
JAGDAT HOOBRAJH, TRINITY TRUCKING EXPRESS, INC., J & J INTERNATIONAL, LLC, and ST. GEORGE TRUCKING & WAREHOUSE, INC., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          KIM R. GIBSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. Introduction

         Pending before the Court is Plaintiff's First Motion to Amend/Correct the Complaint (the "Motion") (ECF No. 30).[1] For the reasons that follow, the Court will GRANT Plaintiff's Motion.

         II. Jurisdiction

         The Court has subject matter jurisdiction because the parties are diverse and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000.00. 28 U.S.C. §1332. Venue is proper because a substantial part of the events giving rise to this action occurred in the Western District of Pennsylvania. 28 U.S.C. § 1391.

         III. Background

         This case arises from an accident on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. On February 21, 2015, Plaintiff, a truck driver, was driving westbound when he crashed into a tractor-trailer operated by Defendant Jagdat Hoobrajh, who had "failed to negotiate a right curve causing his vehicle to slide and block both lanes of travel...". (ECF No. 1 at¶ 11.) Plaintiff sustained physical injuries and emotional trauma as a result of the accident. (Id. at ¶¶ 15-16.)

         On January 30, 2017, Plaintiff filed his Complaint before this Court. (See id.) Plaintiff asserts four counts: (1) negligence against Mr. Hoobrajh; (2) vicarious liability against Trinity Trucking Express, Inc. ("Trinity"), the truck company for whom Mr. Hoobrajh was employed; (3) vicarious liability against J & J International, LLC, the company that had contracted with Trinity to employ Mr. Hoobrajh as a "borrowed employee"; and (4) vicarious liability against St. George Trucking & Warehouse, Inc., the company to whom Trinity leased its truck and its driver, Mr. Hoobrajh. (See Id. at 3-7.) Defendants filed their answers on May 3, 2017. (See ECF Nos. 16, 17.)

         On June 13, 2017, the Court held an Initial Rule 16 Scheduling Conference. (See ECF No. 23.) Attorney Rickards and Attorney Nordeen appeared telephonically for Plaintiff. (Id.) The same day, the Court entered the Initial Scheduling Order. (See ECF No. 24.) The Initial Scheduling Order stated that the parties had until August 1, 2017 to amend the pleadings. (Id. at 1.)

         Plaintiff filed his Motion to Amend/Correct the Complaint on September 12, 2017, six weeks after the deadline to amend the pleadings had passed. Plaintiff seeks to augment his Complaint by adding an additional allegation of negligence against Mr. Hoobrajh.[2] (ECF No. 30 at ¶ 10.) Plaintiff does not seek to add an additional claim, but merely to "amplify" the negligence claim already alleged. (Id. at ¶ 11.) Plaintiff states that amendment will not prejudice Defendants because discovery is ongoing and the drivers involved in the accident have not yet been deposed.[3] (Id. at ¶ 12.) Defendants did not respond to Plaintiff's Motion.

         Plaintiff's counsel, Mr. Girard Rickards, gives two explanations for Plaintiff's failure to comply with the August 1, 2017 deadline to amend the pleadings: (1) Rickard's co-counsel David Nordeen, the attorney who had been communicating directly with Plaintiff, retired "shortly after this lawsuit was commenced" (id. at ¶ 4) and (2) Plaintiff was not aware of the factual basis for his desired amendment until July 13, 2017, when Defendants served their Rule 26 initial disclosures, which included Mr. Hoobrajh's written statement recounting the events leading up to the collision. (Id. at ¶ 9.)

         IV. Legal Standard

         Amendments to pleadings are governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 15. But, as this Court recently stated, "when a party seeks leave to amend the pleadings after the deadline set by a court's scheduling order, that party must first satisfy Rule l6(b)(4)'s requirements for modifying a scheduling order." Hadeed v. Advanced Vascular Res. of ]ohnstown, LLC, No. 3:15-CV-22, 2017 WL 4286343, at *2 (W.D. Pa. Sept. 26, 2017) (citing Graham v. Progressive Direct Ins. Co., 271 F.R.D. 112, 118 (W.D. Pa. 2010) (citing cases)).

         1. ...


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