United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
Nora Barry Fischer Judge
before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File
a First Amended Complaint, which has been fully briefed.
(Docket Nos. 60, 66, 70, 79). After careful consideration of
the parties' submissions, and for the following reasons,
Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File a First Amended
Complaint, (Docket No. 60), is GRANTED, in part, and DENIED,
in part. Said motion is denied to extent that Plaintiff seeks
to assert claims for the loss of parental consortium and is
granted in all other respects.
Factual and Procedural Background
matter arises from a vehicular accident. On March 4, 2017,
Plaintiff was operating a 2017 Chevy Sonic automobile, which
was fully stopped and stationary, with its four-way flashers
blinking, in the right-hand southbound lane on interstate 79
in Franklin Township, Greene County, Pennsylvania. (Docket
No. 1 at ¶¶ 11, 12, 17). While operating a
tractor-trailer, Defendant Jared Roles “smashed”
into the rear of Plaintiff's vehicle, causing severe,
permanent, catastrophic, and life threatening personal
injuries to Plaintiff. (Id. at ¶¶ 18-19).
Roles was operating the tractor-trailer as an employee of
Defendant Quantum Environmental Services
(“ET360”), and the tractor-trailer, which was
owned by Defendant Allied Truck Leasing, LLC, was leased
directly to ET360. (Id. at ¶¶ 3, 5, 13).
In Counts II and III of his Complaint, Plaintiff asserts
claims against ET360 for vicarious liability and for its
negligence. (Id. at ¶¶ 29-46).
filed his Complaint on June 5, 2017. (Docket No. 1).
Defendants filed their respective answers on August 7, 2017.
(Docket Nos. 15, 16, 17). On August 9, 2017, the Court
granted the parties' joint motion to dismiss and
dismissed claims against Defendants Enterprise Holdings, Inc.
d/b/a Enterprise Rent-A-Car and EAN Holdings, LLC, with
prejudice. (Docket No. 22). The Court also granted the
parties' joint stipulation to amend all references to
Richard Pegley, Plaintiff's former guardian ad litem.
(Docket No. 26). Specifically, all references to
“Plaintiff, John Pegley, as Incapacitated Persons, by
and through Richard Pegley, Jr., as Guardian ad Litem”
were amended to “John Pegley, ” and the caption
was amended accordingly. (Id.). On August 16, 2017,
the parties filed their Rule 26(f) report with a proposed
deadline of December 8, 2017, for the addition of parties or
amendment of pleadings. (Docket No. 28). Following a case
management conference, the Court issued a Case Management
Order on September 7, 2017, adopting the deadlines set forth
in the Rule 26(f) report. (Docket No. 38). Discovery ensued
and is set to close on April 27, 2018.
(Id.). Plaintiff submitted the instant motion to
file a First Amended Complaint on March 8, 2018. (Docket No.
60). This matter has been fully briefed and is now ripe for
disposition. (Docket Nos. 60, 66, 70, 79).
seeking leave to amend the pleadings after the deadline set
by the Court's Case Management Order must satisfy the
requirements of Rule 16(b)(4) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. Race Tires Am., Inc. v. Hoosier Racing Tire
Corp., 614 F.3d 57, 84 (3d Cir. 2010). A Case Management
Order “may be modified only for good cause and with the
judge's consent.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(4). Good cause
requires a demonstration of due diligence. Race Tires
Am., Inc., 614 F.3d at 84. “Many courts have
recognized that ‘[w]here . . . the party knows or is in
possession of the information that forms the basis of the
later motion to amend at the outset of the litigation, the
party is presumptively not diligent.'” Graham
v. Progressive Direct Ins. Co., 271 F.R.D. 112, 119
(W.D. Pa. Sep.15, 2015) (quoting Price v. Trans Union,
LLC, 737 F.Supp.2d 276, 280 (E.D. Pa. 2010)).
after the moving party demonstrates good cause under Rule
16(b)(4) may the Court consider a Motion to Amend under Rule
15's standard. See Race Tires Am., Inc., 614
F.3d at 84. Rule 15(a)(2) provides that “a party may
amend its pleading only with the opposing party's written
consent or the court's leave.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
15(a)(2). “The court should freely give leave when
justice so requires.” Id. “[M]otions to
amend pleadings should be liberally granted.” Long
v. Wilson, 393 F.3d 390, 400 (3d Cir. 2004) (citations
omitted). Indeed, “[l]eave to amend must generally be
granted unless equitable considerations render it otherwise
unjust.” Arthur v. Maersk, Inc., 434 F.3d 196,
200 (3d Cir. 2006) (citing Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S.
178, 182 (1962)). “Among the factors that may justify
denial of leave to amend are undue delay, bad faith, and
futility.” Id. (citing Lorenz v. CSX
Corp., 1 F.3d 1406, 1414 (3d Cir. 1993)). “It is
well settled that prejudice to the non-moving party is the
touchstone for the denial of [leave to file] an
amendment.” Cornell & Co. v. Occupational
Safety and Health Review Com'n, 573 F.2d 820, 823
(3d Cir. 1978) (citations omitted). “As to prejudice,
the Court of Appeals has ‘considered whether allowing
an amendment would result in additional discovery, cost, and
preparation to defend against new facts or new
theories.'” Graham, 271 F.R.D. at 123
(citing Cureton v. Nat'l Collegiate Athletic
Ass'n, 252 F.3d 267, 273 (3d Cir. 2001)).
“Given the liberal standard under Rule 15(a),
‘the burden is on the party opposing the amendment to
show prejudice, bad faith, undue delay, or
futility.'” Id. (citing Chancellor v.
Pottsgrove Sch. Dist., 501 F.Supp.2d 695, 700 (E.D. Pa.
2007)). The test under Rule 15(a) “is in the
disjunctive, meaning that if [Defendants] meet[ ] [their]
burden to prove any one of these elements, the [amendment]
should not be permitted.” Id.
respect to punitive damages, the same “are awarded for
outrageous conduct, that is, for acts done with a bad motive
or with a reckless indifference to the interests of
others.” Judge Tech. Servs., Inc. v.
Clancy, 813 A.2d 879, 889 (Pa. 2002) (quotations
omitted). Thus, Pennsylvania law allows for punitive damages
to be awarded where an actor's conduct was
“malicious, wanton, willful, oppressive or exhibited a
reckless indifference to the rights of others.”
Johnson v. Hyundai Motor Am., 698 A.2d 631, 639 (Pa.
Super. Ct. 1997); see also Feld v. Merriam, 485 A.2d
742 (Pa. 1984) (adopting the Restatement (Second) of Torts as
to punitive damages, which allows for punitive damages to be
awarded for outrageous conduct or the reckless indifference
to the rights of others).
requests leave to amend to: (1) remove any allegations made
by his former guardian ad litem and the former plaintiff in
this matter, Richard Pegley, and allegations against former
Defendants Enterprise Holdings, Inc. d/b/a Enterprise
Rent-A-Car and EAN Holdings, LLC; (2) assert new loss of
consortium claims for his two children, a minor and an adult
child; (3) supplement allegations based on new information
obtained during discovery; and (4) add a request to the ad
damnum clause for punitive damages. (Docket No. 60 at 2-3).
Defendants do not raise substantial objections to
Plaintiff's first request. Accordingly, the Court will
address, in turn, Plaintiff's remaining requests.
Plaintiff's Request to Supplement Allegations and Assert
a Claim for Punitive Damages in the Ad Damnum Clause
support of his request to supplement his allegations based on
new information obtained during discovery and to assert a
claim for punitive damages in the ad damnum clause, Plaintiff
argues that he has uncovered new facts and information
through recent depositions and newly produced documents.
(Id. at 6-7). Specifically, Plaintiff states that he
has learned that Roles tested positive for methamphetamines
the day after the accident, that Roles had seen
Plaintiff's flashing lights but did not break, and that
Roles had been significantly overworked by ET360 prior to the
accident. (Id. at 6; see also Docket Nos.
60-3, 60-4, 60-5). Plaintiff also asserts that he has not
acted with undue delay, bad faith, or dilatory motive and
that Defendants will suffer no prejudice if he is permitted
to amend. (Docket No. 60 at 6-7; Docket No. 70 at 2-6). ...