Davis v. Automatic Food Service, Inc. et al

Filing 85

OPINION AND ORDER: it is ORDERED that plf Sundee Ann Davis's 78 motion for leave to file plf's third amended complaint is granted. Signed by Honorable Judge Myron H. Thompson on 4/17/2015. (wcl, )

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IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA, NORTHERN DIVISION SUNDEE ANN DAVIS, Plaintiff, v. AUTOMATIC FOOD SERVICE, INC., et al., Defendants. ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) CIVIL ACTION NO. 2:14cv308-MHT (WO) OPINION AND ORDER This lawsuit is before the court on plaintiff Sundee Ann Davis’s motion for leave to file a third amended complaint, which adds a new cause of action against defendant Automatic Food Service. Automatic Food argues that the allowance of the amendment would be untimely and prejudicial. Based on the representations made on the record today and for the reasons that follow, the motion for leave to file a third amended complaint will be granted. I. LEGAL STANDARD Rule 15(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides served, that, leave after to a amend responsive pleading “shall freely be has been given when justice so requires.” A plaintiff should generally be allowed claim to test her on the merits, but the liberal amendment policy prescribed by Rule 15 does not mean that leave will be granted in all instances. Indeed, district courts may consider such factors 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 the amendment, etc.” in determining whether “justice so requires” that leave to amend be granted. Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178 (1962); see also Grayson v. K Mart Corp., 79 F.3d 1086, 1110 (11th Cir. 1996); Courtney v. Clark, 2007 WL 2786368, at *1 (M.D. Ala. 2007) (Thompson, J.). II. FACTUAL HISTORY 2 This case arises out of a collision on an Alabama road in September 2012. Reading the facts as garnered from the complaint, the court distills that Davis was traveling northbound on the road while defendant Melvin Little and defendant James Leon McGaughy were traveling southbound on the same road. behind, sending Little McGaughy hit Little from into the oncoming traffic, where he collided with Davis. lane of At the time of the collision, Little was talking on his cell phone to get directions and was employed by defendant Automatic Food Service. III. PROCEDURAL HISTORY  September 18, 2012: The car wreck at issue in this case occurs.  April 25, 2014:  May complaint. 12, 2014: Davis files first complaint. Davis files first amended  May 22, 2014: Automatic Food files an answer to first amended complaint.  August 13, 2014: Davis moves for leave to file second amended complaint. It does not affect claims against Automatic Food. 3  August 18, 2014: second amended complaint. Court grants leave to file  September 5, 2014: second amended complaint. Automatic Food answers  February 10, 2015: Joint motion to extend deadlines granted, making February 27, 2015, the last day to file an amended pleading.  February 27, 2015: Davis moves for leave to file third amended complaint with additional claims for (i) Automatic Food’s failure to inform and train its employees on its cell-phone policy and (ii) failure to give Little directions on the day of the wreck, which caused him to use his cell phone. IV. DISCUSSION Automatic Food alleges that the filing in this case was untimely and prejudicial. that the wreck occurred Specifically, it argues almost three years ago, memories of its personnel have faded, and some of its employees involved in the alleged negligence have since left the company. The court disagrees for several reasons. First, the filing was not untimely. As a threshold, this motion was filed within the deadline set by the uniform scheduling order. Although that deadline is not a complete safe harbor, it does give 4 Davis the benefit of the liberal amendment policy under Rule 15. Indeed, the reason to have those deadlines in the scheduling order is to force plaintiffs to amend a complaint counsel with enough explained notice. that she Moreover, did not find Davis’s out that Automatic Food might not be training its employees on the cell-phone policy until another employee’s deposition in September 2014 and that she wanted to wait until deposing Automatic Food’s corporate representative to decide whether to amend the claim. But that after the could deposition not was scheduling wait to recently deadline, confirm pushed and the back Davis’s other testimony before amending her claim. until counsel employee’s In sum, while Davis probably could have amended her claim earlier, the court does not find her motion untimely under Rule 15’s generous standards. Second, prejudiced. from the it is unclear how Automatic Food was As defense counsel admitted, he understood first complaint that Automatic Food’s cell-phone policy would be at issue because it would go 5 to whether Little, its employee, was negligent wanton in using his cell phone while driving. or This issue would raise the question of what Automatic Food’s cell-phone policy was at the time of the wreck, whether Automatic Food told Little about it, and, if so, why he was not following it. Therefore, from the beginning of the lawsuit, Automatic Food should have been aware that the cell-phone policy was an issue in the lawsuit. *** For the foregoing reasons, it is ORDERED that plaintiff Sundee Ann Davis’s motion for leave to file plaintiff’s third amended complaint (doc. no. 78) is granted. DONE, this the 17th day of April, 2015. /s/ Myron H. Thompson UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

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