United States District Court, D. Connecticut
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION GRANTING TRIFILETTI'S
MOTION TO AMEND COUNTERCLAIM [DKT. 76]
VANESSA L. BRYANT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is a motion by Defendant / Counterclaimant Phillip
Trifiletti to amend his Counterclaim. For the reasons set
forth below, the Court GRANTS the motion to amend.
January 12, 2016 in the early morning, Plaintiff Kwame
Boahen's (“Boahen”) vehicle, belonging to
Enviro Express, Inc. (“Enviro”), became disabled
as he was driving north on Interstate 95. [Dkt 1, attached
complaint at ¶ 5; hereinafter “Compl.”]. He
parked his vehicle on the right shoulder between Exits 70 and
71 in Old Lyme, Connecticut. [Compl. ¶ 6]. Phillip
Trifiletti (“Trifiletti”) was also traveling
north on Interstate 95 that morning, in a tractor trailer
belonging to UPS Ground Freight, Inc. (“UPS”),
and a collision occurred between his vehicle and Boahen's
vehicle. [Compl. ¶¶ 4, 6]. All parties involved
filed suit against others seeking damages for the injuries
caused by the collision.
January 16, 2018, Boahen filed his Complaint against
Trifiletti and UPS in Connecticut Superior Court, alleging
negligence claims arising out of the collision. On January
30, 2018, this case was removed pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1441 and 1446 to the federal district court for
the District of Connecticut. See [Dkt. 1 (Notice of
Removal)]. Trifiletti and UPS filed counterclaims against
Boahen shortly thereafter. See [Dkt. 10 (UPS An.
& Countercl.); Dkt. 11 (Trifiletti An. &
Countercl.)]. In April 2018, the case was consolidated with
two other actions arising out of the same accident-a suit
brought by the UPS parties against Boahen and Enviro and a suit
brought by Trifiletti against Boahen and
September 19, 2018, the Court denied Boahen's motion to
dismiss Trifiletti's and UPS's counterclaims and
granted Boahen and Enviro's motion to dismiss the UPS
parties' complaint. [Dkt. 58]. On February 19, 2019, the
Court granted Boahen and Enviro's motion to dismiss
Trifiletti's complaint for failure to timely and properly
serve the complaint and summons. [Dkt. 72]. Trifiletti now
seeks leave to amend his counterclaim in the original suit,
not to add any new claims or parties, but to plead the extent
of his injuries and seek monetary damages. [Dkt. 76 at 6-8].
Boahen opposes the motion to amend. [Dkt. 80].
Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(2) provides that the Court
should freely give leave to amend pleadings when justice so
requires. The Supreme Court has emphasized that this mandate
must be heeded. Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182
(1962). “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 should, as the
rules require, be ‘freely given.'”
Id. The grant or denial of leave to amend is within
the discretion of the district court. Id. “The
court plainly has discretion . . . to deny leave to amend
where the motion is made after an inordinate delay, no
satisfactory explanation is offered for the delay, and the
amendment would prejudice the defendant.” Cresswell
v. Sullivan & Cromwell, 922 F.2d 60, 72 (2d Cir.
Second Circuit has held that “[d]elay alone
unaccompanied by . . . a declared reason does not usually
warrant denial of leave to amend.” Rachman Bag Co.
v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 46 F.3d 230, 234-35 (2d Cir.
1995); see also State Teachers Retirement Bd. v. Fluor
Corp., 654 F.2d 843, 856 (2d Cir. 1981) (“Mere
delay, . . . absent a showing of bad faith or undue
prejudice, does not provide a basis for a district court to
deny the right to amend); Middle Atl. Utils. Co. v.
S.M.W. Dev. Corp., 392 F.2d 380, 384 (2d Cir. 1968)
(holding that a three-year delay from filing of the original
pleading was “an inadequate basis for denying a motion
to amend” because “unless the motion either was
made in bad faith or will prejudice defendant, delay by
itself is not enough to deny the requisite relief”). A
court may find that undue prejudice exists “when
extensive additional discovery would be required, when
further proceedings would be delayed significantly, or where
an imminent danger exists that the moving party seeks to
force a favorable settlement by abusive use of the discovery
process.” Naglieri v. Bay, 977 F.Supp. 131,
136 (D. Conn. 1997). “[T]he longer the period of an
unexplained delay, the less will be required of the nonmoving
party in terms of showing prejudice.” Block v.
First Blood Assocs., 988 F.2d 344, 350 (2d Cir. 1993).
burden of showing these factors under Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)
falls on the party opposing the motion. See Holmes v.
Grubman, 568 F.2d 329, 335-336 (2d. Cir. 2009);
Grochowski v. Phoenix Const., 318 F.3d 80, 86 (2d
Cir. 2003). But when a district court sets a scheduling order
“limiting the time to make such amendments, ”
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16(b) requires that
“scheduling orders ‘shall not be modified except
upon a showing of good cause'” by the moving party.
Parker v. Columbia Pictures Indus., 204 F.3d 326,
339 (2d. Cir. 2000). “A finding of ‘good
cause' depends on the diligence of the moving
party.” Id. at 340 (citing In re Milk
Prods. Antitrust Litig, 195 F.3d 430, 437 (8th Cir.
1999)). District courts “may consider other relevant
factors including, in particular, whether allowing the
amendment of the pleading at this stage of the litigation
will prejudice defendants.” Kassner v.
2nd Avenue Delicatessen Inc., 496 F.3d 229,
244 (2d Cir. 2007).
Court set pretrial deadlines in a January 30, 2018 Order,
requiring that amended pleadings be filed by March 31, 2018.
See [Dkt. 5]. On May 15, 2018, the parties'
filed their joint Rule 26(f) Report, in which they agreed the
deadline for motions to amend would be 60 days after a
decision on Boahen's then-pending motions to dismiss
Trifiletti's and UPS's counterclaims and the UPS
parties' complaint, see [Dkt. 42 at 6], which
the Court ruled on in September 2018. See [Dkt.
Trifiletti's motion to amend, filed February 28, 2019, is
untimely under both of these deadlines and he must therefore
show good cause to modify the deadline under Rule 16(b)(4).
See BPP Illinois, LLC v. Royal Bank of Scotland Group
PLC, 859 F.3d 188, 195 (2d Cir. 2017) (citing Holmes
v. Grubman, 568 F.3d 329, 334-35 (2d Cir. 2009)). This
means that the Court must balance the lenient standard under
Rule 15(a), which provides that leave to amend shall be
freely given, with the Rule 16(b) requirement that the
Court's scheduling order will not be modified except upon
a showing of good cause. Id.
seeks to amend his counterclaim to plead specific injuries
and modify his prayer of relief to include money damages in
light of the fact that his direct action against Boahen and
Enviro has been dismissed and thus his original avenue for
seeking such damages is no longer viable. [Dkt. 76 at 8].
Trifiletti argues that he has shown good cause to amend by
promptly seeking leave following the dismissal of his
complaint and that granting leave will not prejudice Boahen.
Id. at 9-11. Boahen argues that allowing amendment
would be prejudicial and that Trifiletti fails to show good
cause to amend because the defect he now seeks to amend has
existed since he filed his counterclaim in February 2018.
[Dkt. 80 at 8-10].
cause largely depends on the diligence of the moving party in
seeking to amend. Kassner, 496 F.3d at 243 (citing
Parker v. Columbia Pictures Indus., 204 F.3d 326,
339-40 (2d Cir. 2000)). Boahen contends that Trifiletti was
not diligent in moving to amend his counterclaim because it
was filed over a year after filing the counterclaim and
months after the November 18, 2018 deadline to do so included
in the Rule 26(f) Report. [Dkt. 80 at 6-7]. But, as
Trifiletti points out, he filed the motion for leave to amend
within three months of the deadline set by the Rule 26(f)
report and within ten days of the Court's decision
dismissing his complaint against Boahen and Enviro.
See [Dkt. 76 at 11]. Up until that dismissal,
Trifiletti did not have reason to amend his counterclaim
against Boahen (which separate counsel was handling). The
Court's September rulings on the motions to ...