United States District Court, D. New Jersey
June 2, 2005.
RICOH COMPANY, LTD., et al., Plaintiffs,
KATUN CORP., et al., Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: SUSAN WIGENTON, Magistrate Judge
Before the Court is Defendant Nashua Corporation's (hereinafter
"Defendant") motion for leave to amend its answer and to file a
counterclaim alleging that Plaintiffs Ricoh Company, Ltd., Ricoh
Corporation and Ricoh Electronics, Inc. (Hereinafter
"Plaintiffs") have unlawfully restrained trade in violation of
the Sherman Antitrust Act. The Court has throughly considered the
written arguments submitted by both parties, and makes its ruling
based upon the same. The relevant facts and procedural history
have been set forth sufficiently in the briefs submitted to the
Court; thus, the Court will not recount them here. For the
following reasons, Defendant's motion for leave to amend its
answer and to file a counterclaim under the Sherman Antitrust Act
Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a), a party may amend
its pleading by leave of the Court, and leave must be freely
given when justice so requires. However, a scheduling order that
sets forth a deadline to amend pleadings shall not be modified
except by leave of the Court upon a showing of good cause.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b). In the Third Circuit, leave to amend a pleading shall be granted unless the non-movant can show that it
will suffer undue prejudice if the motion is granted. Lorenz v.
CSX Corp., 1 F.3d 1406, 1413-14 (3d Cir. 1993). If there is no
showing of undue prejudice, a motion to amend may only be denied
if the Court determines that there is evidence of bad faith,
undue or unexplained delay, continual failure to cure any
deficiency through previous amendments, or futility of the
proposed amendment. Id.
Defendant Nashua Corporation seeks leave to amend its answer
and to add a counterclaim against Plaintiffs, more than one year
after the February 15, 2004 deadline to amend pleadings set by an
order of this Court has passed. While Defendant acknowledges this
exceptional delay in seeking leave to amend its pleading, it does
not offer an explanation for the delay. The Court also notes that
Defendant was well aware of Defendants Katun Corporation and
General Plastics Industrial Company, Ltd.'s (hereinafter "Katun"
and "GPI") letter of February 20, 2004, which sought leave to
amend their answers and to include a counterclaim of the very
same nature as the counterclaim which Defendant now seeks to
pursue, but Defendant failed to join in Katun and GPI's motion.
Once again, Nashua has offered no reasonable explanation for
failing to join in Katun and GPI's motion.
Without a reasonable explanation for this delay, this Court has
no choice but to conclude that the delay was undue and
unjustified. This is not a matter of a few weeks or months that
have transpired; well over a full year has passed since the
deadline to amend pleadings contained in the Court's order
expired. Without sufficient justification, the Court cannot
enlarge the filing period for such a lengthy delay. While the
prejudice suffered by Plaintiffs may be somewhat limited by the
fact that the parties have conducted little discovery with regard
to the antitrust claims as of yet, the undue and unexplained
delay by Nashua in seeking leave to amend and file a counterclaim greatly outweighs this fact. This Court is quite
concerned with ensuring the expeditious handling of matters
before it via close adherence to its scheduling orders, and "[i]f
[scheduling orders] can be disregarded without a specific showing
of good cause, their utility will be severely impaired." Koplove
v. Ford Motor Co., 795 F.2d 15, 18 (3d Cir. 1986).
Thus, for the foregoing reasons, Defendant Nashua Corporation's
motion for leave to amend its answer and to file a counterclaim
under the Sherman Antitrust Act is DENIED.
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