United States District Court, D. Connecticut
ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO AMEND
THIRD PARTY COMPLAINT [DOC. 40]
CHARLES S. HAIGHT, JR. SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Court considers the Motion for Leave to Amend (Doc. 40),
filed by Defendants Powerscreen International Distribution,
Ltd. and Powerscreen USA, LLC ("Defendants"), with
regards to their Third Party Complaint (Doc. 34). The only
amendment sought is to correct the misnomer of Third Party
Defendant Powerscreen Connecticut Inc. ("Third Party
Defendant"), which the Third Party Complaint named,
incorrectly, as "Powerscreen Connecticut, LLC."
See Docs. 34, 40. Following the filing of the
instant Motion, Third Party Defendant filed a Motion for
Extension of Time (Doc. 42), requesting an extension of
thirty days' time, to Sunday, June 18, 2017, "to
respond to the Third Party Complaint dated April 27,
2017." Doc. 42 at 1. This Order will also dispose
of that Motion for Extension.
Graham Wylie brought the initial product-liability Complaint
(Doc. 1) against Defendants under the diversity jurisdiction
of this Court. In that Complaint, Plaintiff referred to his
employer as "Powerscreen Connecticut, LLC." Doc. 1
at 1. On December 21, 2016, Defendants filed a motion (Doc.
31) for leave to file a third party complaint against
Plaintiff's employer, identified as "Powerscreen
Connecticut, LLC, " asserting "a contractual right
of indemnity that the Defendants possess against Powerscreen
Connecticut, which requires Powerscreen Connecticut to
defend, indemnify, and hold the Defendants harmless for
Plaintiff's claim" in this action. Doc. 31 at 1.
This Court, in a prior Ruling (Doc. 32), familiarity with
which is assumed, granted Defendants' motion, and the
Third Party Complaint (Doc. 34) was duly filed and served
upon Third Party Defendant, at the correct business address,
though under an incorrect corporate moniker. See
Executed Summons, served on "Powerscreen Connecticut,
LLC, " Doc. 37. Third Party Defendant's response to
that Complaint was due by February 27, 2017. No response was
filed until May 18, 2017, when Third Party Defendant's
counsel entered a Notice of Appearance (Doc. 41) and the
aforementioned Motion for Extension of Time (Doc. 42).
Standard of Review
amendment of pleadings is governed by Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 15(a). As the instant Motion was filed more than 21
days after the time when a response to the Third Party
Complaint which it seeks to amend would have been due, any
amendment must be made under the authority of Rule 15(a)(2),
which provides that "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); see
also Fed R. Civ. P. 15(a)(1). As Third Party Defendant
did not provide written consent for the amendment, the
proposed amendment requires leave of the Court. "In the
absence of any apparent or declared reason - such as undue
delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on the part of the
movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments
previously allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing party by
virtue of allowance of the amendment, futility of amendment,
etc. - the leave sought [to amend] should, as the rules
require, be 'freely given.'" Foman v.
Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962).
party complaints are filed by leave of the court, and a third
party complaint should not be allowed if it "would
foster an obviously unmeritorious claim." Wilson v.
Home Depot U.S.A., Inc., No. 11-1000, 2012 WL 5463298,
at *1 (D. Conn. Nov. 8, 2012) (quoting Farrell Family
Ventures, LLC v. Sekas Assocs., LLC, 863 F.Supp.2d 324,
331 (S.D.N.Y. 2012)). Accordingly, this Court reviewed the
single claim in Defendants' proposed third party
complaint (Doc. 31-1) prior to granting Defendants'
Motion for Leave to File (Doc. 31). This Court's Ruling
(Doc. 32) concluded that "Defendants have plausibly
alleged a contractual indemnification claim against
Powerscreen Connecticut, LLC." Doc. 32 at 6. The
proposed amended complaint is identical to the presently
operative Third Party Complaint (Doc. 34), in every
particular but one - the name of the third party defendant.
Thus, following this Court's conclusion that the first
Third Party Complaint "plausibly alleged a contractual
indemnification claim, " and taking into consideration
Exhibit A to Defendants' Brief in support of this Motion,
which demonstrates that the Third Party Defendant is, indeed,
incorporated under the name "Powerscreen Connecticut
Inc., " the Court is satisfied that amendment would not
be futile. See Defendants' Brief, Ex. A, Doc.
40-3. In the absence of any "apparent or declared
reason, " such as the factors enumerated by
Foman, leave to amend should thus be granted.
Defendants' Brief asks the Court to consider the notes of
the 1991 Advisory Committee regarding the amendment of
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15. Doc. 40-2, at 2. In
discussing Rule 15(c)'s provisions as to amended
pleadings' relation back to the date of original
pleadings, the 1991 Committee advised that "[i]f the
notice requirement is met within the Rule 4(m) period, a
complaint may be amended at any time to correct a formal
defect such as a misnomer or misidentification."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 15 advisory committee's note to 1991
amendment. The Committee justified its amendment of Rule
15(c) as necessary "to prevent parties against whom
claims are made from taking unjust advantage of otherwise
inconsequential pleading errors to sustain a limitations
defense." Id. While the present case currently
presents no statute of limitations issue implicating the
relation-back doctrine, the 1991 Committee's rationale
would also argue for allowing amendment in the instant case,
where Third Party Defendant was put on notice as to the
existence of a possible claim against it by the service of
the misnamed Third Party Complaint in February 2017.
See Executed Summons, Doc. 37. As the Foman
Court said, under the Federal Rules, "the purpose of
pleading is to facilitate a proper decision on the
merits." 371 U.S. at 182 (quoting Conley v.
Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 48 (1957). Defendants might have
avoided their error, and a good bit of inconvenience for all
parties concerned, by confirming the identity of
Plaintiff's employer before they filed a claim in federal
court against that employer. But to disallow the correction
of that oversight, where no prejudice has resulted from it,
would frustrate the purpose of pleadings under the Federal
Rules, not to mention the interests of judicial economy
embodied by Rule 14's provisions for third-party
foregoing reasons, the Court hereby GRANTS Defendants'
unopposed Motion for Leave to Amend the Third-Party Complaint
(Doc. 40). Defendants must file and serve the amended third
party complaint, as proposed, on or before Wednesday, May 31,
Party Defendant's Motion for Extension of Time (Doc. 42)
is hereby DISMISSED as moot; by order of this Court Third
Party Defendant must file its response on or before Friday,
June 16, 2017. The Court notes that this deadline, like the
deadlines already set for this action, must be adhered to
unless a Party or Third Party files for an extension.
Extensions will only be granted for good cause shown, and all
applications for extension must comply with Local Rule of
Civil Procedure 7(b).