United States District Court, D. Montana, Billings Division
TODD J. LINDSAY and KELLIE LINDSAY, Plaintiffs,
WORLD FACTORY, INC., and JOHN DOES I-X, Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO AMEND ANSWER
CAROLYN S. OSTBY, Magistrate Judge.
This is a products liability action. Plaintiffs Todd J. and Kellie Lindsay ("Lindsays") claim that Todd was injured when the scaffolding upon which he was working collapsed causing him to fall. First Am. Cmplt. (ECF 16) at ¶¶ 9-11.
The Lindsays assert that Defendant World Factory, Inc. ("World Factory") "marketed, controlled, distributed, imported, sold, participated in the design of, and directed the manufacturing of the multi-purpose scaffolding at issue here." Id . at ¶6. They claim that the scaffolding was defective in its design and manufacture, and because World Factory failed to adequately warn consumers of the scaffolding's dangers. They further claim that World Factory is liable under products liability (count one) and loss of consortium (count three) theories of recovery, and also claim entitlement to punitive damages (count two). Id . at ¶¶ 17-48.
Pending is World Factory's motion to amend its Answer to assert misuse or misassembly in defense. ECF 20 at 1; World Factory's Opening Br. (ECF 21) at 2. The Lindsays oppose the motion. Lindsays' Resp. Br. (ECF 22). Having considered the parties' arguments and submissions, the Court will grant the motion.
I. RELEVANT PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
On February 19, 2014, the Lindsays filed their Complaint in Montana state court. Cmplt. (ECF 5) at 1.
On April 7, 2014, World Factory removed the action to this Court. Notice of Removal (ECF 1) at 1.
On April 10, 2014, World Factory filed its Answer. Answer (ECF 6). In it, World Factory asserted "misuse" as its Second Affirmative Defense. Id . at 9.
On April 11, 2014, the Court issued an order setting this case for a preliminary pretrial conference to put in place a schedule. Order Setting PPTC (ECF 7).
On April 24, 2014, the Court conducted a preliminary pretrial conference with counsel. Minute Entry (ECF 12). The same day, the Court filed the Scheduling Order setting July 18, 2014, as the deadline to amend pleadings. Sched. Order (ECF 13) at ¶ 1.
On July 18, 2014, the Lindsays filed their First Amended Complaint. First Am. Cmplt. (ECF 16).
On August 1, 2014, World Factory filed its Answer to the First Amended Complaint. Ans. to First Am. Cmplt. (ECF 17). In it, World Factory did not assert misuse as an affirmative defense as it had done in its original Answer. Id.
On February 13, 2015, World Factory filed the motion at hand seeking to reassert the misuse affirmative defense. Mtn. to Amend Answer (ECF 20).
II. PARTIES' ARGUMENTS
World Factory argues that the Court should allow its proposed amendment for three principal reasons. First, World Factory argues that it initially asserted the misuse defense in its Answer to the Lindsays' original Complaint. But it withdrew the defense after receiving an "admonition" from the Court at the preliminary pretrial conference, albeit with leave to renew the defense if discovery revealed evidence to support it. ECF 21 at 2.
Second, World Factory argues that good cause exists for it to amend its Answer to assert the misuse or misassembly defense. It argues that, even though it has been diligent, it could not have met the Scheduling Order's July 18, 2014 deadline to amend because: (1) the Lindsays filed their First Amended Complaint on July 18, 2014, which would not have allowed it sufficient time to amend its Answer and comply with the deadline, id. at 6, 9; (2) despite Todd Lindsay's September 10, 2014 deposition testimony that the scaffold was properly assembled on the day of the accident, the Lindsays' liability expert, Thomas A. Berry, opined in his October 10, 2014 report, that a person assembling the scaffold could mistakenly believe that it was properly assembled when it actually was not, id. at 8; and (3) discussions during the parties' December 2, 2014 mediation led World Factory to believe that the Lindsays may argue at trial that Todd Lindsay did not properly assemble the scaffolding on the day of the accident, id. at 8-9.
Third, World Factory argues that allowing it to amend its Answer to assert the misuse defense would neither prejudice the Lindsays nor delay the case. It argues that the Lindsays "were on notice that issues existed regarding proper assembly of the scaffolding because they injected those issues into the case through their First Amended Complaint, their liability expert disclosure, and their theory during mediation." Id . at 10. Also, World Factory maintains that its proposed amendment would result in no additional discovery and no further modification of Scheduling Order deadlines. Id.
In response, the Lindsays argue that the Court should not permit World Factory to amend its Answer for several reasons. First, they argue that as early as June 27, 2014, through their responses to World Factory's discovery requests, they stated their theories of liability in detail. They argue that "World Factory knew precisely what [their] theories were prior to [the] July 18, 2014[ ]" deadline to amend pleadings. ECF 22 at 2-3. Thus, the Lindsays argue, World Factory's argument that it first learned of possible misuse or misassembly when the Lindsays filed their First Amended Complaint on July 18, 2014, is false, and "World Factory had ample time to add the affirmative defense of misuse prior to the July 28, 2014, deadline to amend the pleadings." Id . at 3-4, 12.
Second, the Lindsays argue that World Factory has failed to explain why it did not add the misuse defense when it filed its Answer to Plaintiffs' First Amended Complaint on August 1, 2014. And, they argue, World Factory also has not explained why it did not move to amend at "subsequent dates cited in its brief, all of which were months ago." Id . at 4. Instead, the Lindsays ...