ESTATE OF WILLIAM D. PILGRIM et al v. General Motors LLC
ORDER Granting 15 MOTION for Leave to File First Amended Complaint. Motions terminated: 11 MOTION to Dismiss filed by General Motors LLC. Signed by District Judge Terrence G. Berg. (AChu)
Case 2:20-cv-10562-TGB-DRG ECF No. 19, PageID.1028 Filed 02/16/21 Page 1 of 5
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
ESTATE OF WILLIAM D.
PILGRIM, et al.
PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR
LEAVE TO FILE FIRST
GENERAL MOTORS LLC, et al.
Plaintiffs have filed a motion seeking leave to file an amended
complaint pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 15. For the reasons that follow,
their motion is GRANTED, and the amended complaint attached will be
accepted for filing as the First Amended Complaint in this case.
Plaintiffs seek to represent a putative class of purchasers and
lessees of certain General Motors vehicles. These vehicles allegedly suffer
from valve defects that can lead to catastrophic engine failure. ECF No.
15, PageID.602. Their original Complaint was filed on March 3, 2020.
ECF No. 1. It alleges fifty-five claims under federal law, state common
Case 2:20-cv-10562-TGB-DRG ECF No. 19, PageID.1029 Filed 02/16/21 Page 2 of 5
law, and state statutes on behalf of forty-two named plaintiffs, and also
proposes that the plaintiffs represent a nationwide class and twenty
state-specific sub-classes. Id. at PageID.3-6, 11-23, 25-27. Defendant GM
filed a motion to dismiss in response. ECF No. 11.
Plaintiffs now seek to amend their Complaint. Specifically, the
proposed First Amended Complaint contains the following changes:
Additional “factual underpinnings” for state class claims;
Two new named plaintiffs; and
Eight new claims specific to the California and Oklahoma subclasses “based on the same factual allegations regarding
Defendant’s course of conduct originally pleaded.”
ECF No. 15, PageID.15.
The motion has been fully briefed. Although it was originally
scheduled for oral argument, the Court concludes that it may be decided
on the briefs alone.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
A party may amend a pleading after the opposing party’s responsive
pleading has been filed only by leave of court or by written consent of the
adverse party. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2). However, Rule 15(a) provides
that “leave shall be freely given when justice so requires.” Id. The
decision to grant or deny a motion to amend a pleading is within the
sound discretion of the Court. See Robinson v. Michigan Consol. Gas Co.,
Inc., 918 F.2d 579, 591 (6th Cir. 1990).
Case 2:20-cv-10562-TGB-DRG ECF No. 19, PageID.1030 Filed 02/16/21 Page 3 of 5
The standard for granting a motion for leave to amend a complaint
is liberal. Neighborhood Dev. Corp. v. Advisory Council on Historic Pres.,
632 F.2d 21, 23 (6th Cir. 1980). Amendments should not be permitted in
instances of “undue delay in filing, lack of notice to the opposing party,
bad faith by the moving party, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by
previous amendments, undue prejudice to the opposing party, and
futility of amendment.” Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962). They
should also not be permitted if the complaint could not survive a motion
to dismiss. Neighborhood Dev., 632 F.2d at 23. But the underlying
motivation behind allowing amendments is that “cases should be tried on
their merits rather than on the technicalities of pleadings,” and this
motivation must inform the Court’s decision. Janikowski v. Bendix Corp.,
823 F.2d 945, 951 (6th Cir. 1987).
Defendant GM1 does not reference bad faith, undue delay, or
prejudice in its opposition to the motion. Instead, it seems to focus on
“futility of amendment,” naming six grounds from its motion to dismiss
and alleging that Plaintiffs’ proposed amendments would not cure any of
those deficiencies. ECF No. 16, PageID.923.
Although the Complaint is also brought against certain currently
anonymous “John Doe” defendants, for the sake of efficiency the Court
will refer to “Defendant GM” as representing all the defendants.
Case 2:20-cv-10562-TGB-DRG ECF No. 19, PageID.1031 Filed 02/16/21 Page 4 of 5
The Court finds it unnecessary at this stage to delve into the
specifics of each of these grounds because the probability that all the
proposed amendments are futile or that none the claims in the amended
complaint will survive a motion to dismiss is very low. This kind of large,
complicated, and unwieldy class action against a major automobile
manufacturer is unfortunately quite familiar to this Court and becoming
all too common in this district. See, e.g., Francis v. Gen. Motors, LLC, No.
19-11044, 2020 WL 7042935 (E.D. Mich. Nov. 30, 2020); Bledsoe v. FCA
US LLC, 378 F. Supp. 3d 626 (E.D. Mich. 2019); McKee v. Gen. Motors
LLC, 376 F. Supp. 3d 751, 755 (E.D. Mich. 2019), Matanky v. Gen. Motors
LLC, 370 F. Supp. 3d 772, 784 (E.D. Mich. 2019). The Court plans to hear
oral argument regarding any motion to dismiss, at which time it will fully
address all of GM’s contentions. Allowing amendment at this stage will
only effectuate a more thorough review of GM’s arguments for dismissal.
GM notes that granting this motion will result in a “duplicative
round of briefing.” ECF No. 16, PageID.926. But that argument cuts in
Plaintiffs’ favor. GM concedes that “the core factual allegations in the
proposed amended complaint are unchanged.” Id. at PageID.925.
Assuming it chooses to re-file its motion to dismiss, GM will not suffer
any undue prejudice. It may easily and efficiently adjust its arguments
as may be appropriate while simply restating those that may still apply.
The Court finds that granting Plaintiff leave to file a first amended
Complaint is appropriate. There is no evidence of undue delay, lack of
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notice, bad faith, repeated failure to cure deficiencies, or undue prejudice
to Defendant. The factual and legal allegations in the proposed First
Amended Complaint are largely the same as those in the original
Complaint. The amendments proposed will allow the Court to more fully
evaluate Plaintiffs’ contentions “on the merits” all at once, a significant
advantage in these cases. Allowing amendment at this stage is also in
line with this Circuit’s practice of liberally granting leave to amend.
Plaintiff’s motion for leave to file a First Amended Complaint (ECF
No. 15) is GRANTED and the Complaint attached to the motion as
Exhibit 1 is accepted for filing. Because it is no longer responsive to the
operative complaint, Defendant’s motion to dismiss (ECF No. 11) is moot
and therefore DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. Defendant is hereby
ORDERED to respond to the First Amended Complaint within 21 days
of the date of this Order, or by any date to which the parties mutually
agree to stipulate, not later than 45 days from the date of this Order.
SO ORDERED this 16th day of February, 2021.
BY THE COURT:
/s/Terrence G. Berg
TERRENCE G. BERG
United States District Judge
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