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Bales v. Green

United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma

February 13, 2018

KAYLA BALES, Plaintiff,
v.
RICHARD GREEN and SERVICE TRANSPORT COMPANY, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          GREGORY K. FRIZZELL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT CHIEF JUDGE

         This matter comes before the court on the Opposed Motion for Leave to File Amended Answers [Doc. #106], of defendants Richard Green and Service Transport Company. For the reasons discussed below, the motion is granted.

         I. Procedural History

         Ms. Bales initiated this case in the District Court in and for Tulsa County on January 28, 2016. On February 23, 2016, the case was removed to this court. The court entered a Scheduling Order on September 7, 2016. See [Doc. #27]. The Scheduling Order set a deadline of September 16, 2016 for amendments to the pleadings. [Id.].

         Since then, upon request of the parties, the court has amended the Scheduling Order on three (3) separate occasions: the First Amended Scheduling Order [Doc. #50], entered on November 17, 2016; the Second Amended Scheduling Order [Doc. #63], entered on March 28, 2017; and the Third Amended Scheduling Order [Doc. #77], entered on September 6, 2017. None of the amended Scheduling Orders included an amended deadline for the amendment of pleadings, as the original deadline of September 16, 2016, had previously lapsed.

         Mr. Green and Service Transport now seek leave to amend their respective Answers to include three additional affirmative defenses. [Doc. #106].

         II. Standard

         The Tenth Circuit has recently clarified that “[a]fter a scheduling order deadline, a party seeking leave to amend must demonstrate (1) good cause for seeking modification under Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(4) and (2) satisfaction of the Rule 15(a) standard.” Gorsuch, Ltd. v. Wells Fargo Nat'l Bank Ass'n, 771 F.3d 1230, 1240 (10th Cir. 2014).

         Pursuant to Rule 16(b)(4), “[a] schedule may be modified only for good cause and with the judge's consent.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(4). “In practice, this standard requires the movant to show the ‘scheduling deadlines cannot be met despite [the movant's] diligent efforts.'” Gorsuch, Ltd., 771 F.3d at 1240 (quoting Pumpco, Inc. v. Schenker Int'l, Inc., 204 F.R.D. 667, 668 (D. Colo. 2001)). Good cause may be satisfied through the discovery of new information “or if the underlying law has changed.” Id.

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a) permits a party to amend its pleading once as a matter of course within twenty-one (21) days of service or, if the pleading is one to which a responsive pleading is required, within 21 days of service of the responsive pleading or motion. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1). “In all other cases, 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).

         Although leave to amend should be freely given “when justice so requires, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2), “denial of a motion to amend may be appropriate where there has been shown ‘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.'” Steadfast Ins. Co. v. Agric. Ins. Co., No. 05-CV-126-GKF-TLW, 2014 WL 1901175, at *4 (N.D. Okla. May 13, 2014) (quoting Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962)). “‘[T]he grant of leave to amend the pleadings pursuant to Rule 15(a) is within the discretion of the trial court.'” Minter v. Prime Equip. Co., 451 F.3d 1196, 1204 (10th Cir. 2006) (alteration in original) (quoting Zenith Radio Corp. v. Hazeltine Research, Inc., 401 U.S. 321, 330 (1971)).

         III. Analysis

         In their motion, Mr. Green and Service Transport seek leave to amend their respective Answers to include three additional affirmative defenses relating to: (1) medical expenses recoverable (12 O.S. § 3009.1); (2) statutory limitations as to punitive damages (23 O.S. § 9.1); and (3) statutory limitations as to noneconomic damages (23 O.S. § 61.2). [Doc. #106]. In opposition, Ms. Bales argues: (1) the request is untimely; (2) she will be prejudiced by the amendment; and (3) Mr. Green and Service Transport fail to satisfy Rule 16's “good cause” standard. The court will separately consider each argument.

         A. ...


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