Columbia Gas Transmission Corporation v. United States of America et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER denying 140 MOTION by Columbia Gas Transmission, LLC for Leave to File Amended Complaint. Signed by Judge Robert C. Chambers on 12/3/2015. (cc: attys; any unrepresented parties) (mkw)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR
THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF WEST VIRGINIA
COLUMBIA GAS TRANSMISSION LLC,
CIVIL ACTION NO. 3:14-11854
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
and TRI-STATE AIRPORT AUTHORITY,
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Pending is Plaintiff, Columbia Gas Transmission, LLC’s (“Columbia Gas”) Motion for
Leave to File an Amended Complaint, ECF No. 140. Columbia Gas seeks leave to add claims for
unjust enrichment and quantum meruit against Defendants United States of America and Tri-State
Airport Authority (“TSAA”) because of evidence allegedly recently discovered through 30(b)(6)
depositions. Having reviewed the Parties’ briefs and for the reasons below, the Court DENIES
Columbia Gas’s Motion.
Columbia Gas filed the instant suit on March 7, 2014, alleging Defendants caused
Columbia Gas harm by committing various torts under West Virginia law, including trespass,
nuisance, and negligence. Compl. 1, ECF No. 1. In a scheduling order dated July 3, 2014, the Court
directed the Parties to file amended pleadings by August 29, 2014. The first deadline for amending
pleadings came and went without any amended pleadings filed. Between August and December
2014, the Parties exchanged initial disclosures pursuant to 26(a) and engaged in other discovery,
including interrogatories and requests for production of documents. On December 9, 2014 the
Court amended its scheduling order and granted a second deadline for amending pleadings,
permitting the parties to file them until December 29, 2014. The amended scheduling order further
required completion of all discovery requests by July 20, 2015 and all depositions by September
1, 2015. That second deadline for amending pleadings came and went without any amended
pleadings filed. Finally, on September 22, 2015, almost nine months after the second deadline for
amending pleadings, Columbia Gas filed a motion to amend its complaint by adding claims for
unjust enrichment and quantum meruit.
A motion to amend the complaint filed after the deadline established in the scheduling
order must satisfy both Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16(b)’s good cause standard for modifying
the scheduling order and Rule 15(a)’s standard for amending pleadings. Stewart v. Coyne Textile
Servs., 212 F.R.D. 494, 496 (S.D. W. Va. 2003); see also Stanley v. Huntington Nat. Bank, 492
Fed. App'x 456, 461 (4th Cir. 2012). Rule 16(b) provides that “a schedule shall not be modified
except upon a showing of good cause and by leave of the district judge.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 16(b).
Rule 15(a)(2) provides, “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).
A. Rule 16(b)’s Good Cause Requirement
Columbia Gas has failed to satisfy the good cause requirement of Rule 16(b). “Rule 16(b)'s
‘good cause’ standard primarily considers the diligence of the party seeking the amendment.”
Nester v. Hampton Inn Princeton, No. 13-03336, 2013 WL 5425123, at *2 (S.D.W. Va. Sept. 26,
2013) (citing Johnson v. Mammoth Recreations, Inc., 975 F.2d 604, 609 (9th Cir.1992); Marcum
v. Zimmer, 163 F.R.D. 250, 254 (S.D.W. Va. 1995)). Although prejudice to the party opposing
modification might supply additional reasons to deny a motion to amend the scheduling order, the
primary focus in 16(b)’s good cause analysis is the moving party’s diligence in seeking an
amendment. Id. (finding 16(b)’s good cause standard met when facts supporting amendment were
recently obtained by moving party).
In the instant case, Columbia Gas argues good cause exists for amending the complaint
after the amended scheduling order’s deadline for such because, according to Columbia Gas,
during ongoing discovery it only recently learned facts supporting claims for unjust enrichment
and quantum meruit. Specifically, Columbia Gas maintains that admissions made in recently
completed 30(b)(6) depositions revealed the basis for these claim against the United States and
TSAA. The United States and TSAA respond that the factual bases for these claims were known
or knowable at the outset of litigation and in documents Columbia Gas has had in its possession
since well before the 30(b)(6) depositions; namely, those documents are a lease agreement between
the State of West Virginia and TSAA, an agreement between the State of West Virginia and the
federal government regarding an armed forces reserve center project on state property, and a
maintenance agreement between the State of West Virginia and federal government. See Lease
Between Tri-State Airport Authority and State of West Virginia, ECF No 6, Ex. A (filed May 1,
2014) [hereinafter Lease between TSAA and W. Va.]; Federal-State Agreement for Armed Force
Reserve Center Project on State Property Between the National Guard Bureau Departments of the
Army and the Air Force and the State of West Virginia, ECF No. 81, Ex. B (filed Mar. 17, 2015)
[hereinafter Federal-State Agreement for Armed Force Reserve Center Project]; Maintenance
Agreement for Tri-State Armed Forces Reserve Ctr. Between Federal Government and State of
West Virginia, ECF No. 140, Ex. B (provided to Columbia Gas on Jan. 12, 2015 in Adjutant
General’s Responses to Columbia Gas’s Requests for Production of Documents).
The Court concludes that good cause does not exist for amending the complaint after the
second deadline for amending pleadings. Columbia Gas has failed to satisfy 16(b)’s good cause
requirement for modifying the already amended scheduling order because the factual allegations
supporting the proposed unjust enrichment and quantum meruit claims were known or should have
been known by Columbia Gas well before the recent 30(b)(6) depositions. Columbia Gas’s
allegation that new facts which surfaced in 30(b)(6) depositions have provided it with the basis for
unjust enrichment and quantum meruit claims is unsupported by the record already compiled in
this case. Colonel Shafer’s admissions in his deposition about the fifty year duration of the lease
between the State of West Virginia and TSAA were duplicative of information contained in the
lease TSAA already provided Columbia Gas on May 1, 2014. See Lease between TSAA and W.
Va. ¶ 2, ECF No 6, Ex. A. Moreover, reviewing Columbia Gas’s proposed amended complaint,
ECF No. 140, Ex. A, the additional facts alleged in support of the unjust enrichment and quantum
meruit claims were either known to Columbia Gas at the outset of litigation or could have been
discovered by Columbia Gas upon reviewing documents in its possession since well before the
30(b)(6) depositions. Compare Amended Compl. ¶¶ 41–58, with Lease between TSAA and W. Va.,
and Federal-State Agreement for Armed Force Reserve Center Project. Instead of filing an
amended complaint soon after it obtained the last of these documents on March 17, 2015,
Columbia Gas waited more than six months to seek leave to amend the complaint. Columbia Gas’s
attempt to add these claims came also just outside of a month before the parties’ scheduled
mediation. Because two deadlines had already passed for amending pleadings, a six month delay
in seeking leave to amend by adding a page and a half to the complaint in order to assert two simple
claims is clearly not diligent.
As such, the court finds no good cause to modify the amended scheduling order to permit
adjusting the complaint after the order’s deadline for such has already past.
Having reviewed the Parties’ briefs and for the forgoing reasons, the Court DENIES
Columbia Gas’s Motion for Leave to Amend the Complaint.
The Court DIRECTS the Clerk to send a copy of this Order to counsel of record and any
December 3, 2015
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