United States District Court, D. New Jersey
A. DICKSON, U.S.M.J.
matter comes before the Court upon Petitioner, Cayuse, LLC
trading as Wild West City's ("Petitioner")
Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 20).
Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78, no oral
argument was heard. Upon careful consideration of the
parties' submissions (ECF No. 20, 21, 24), and for the
reasons set forth below, Petitioner's Motion to Amend is
RELEVANT BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
December 29, 2014, the Petitioner filed a Complaint Petition
for a De Novo Review ("Complaint") of the Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Newark Field
Division (hereinafter "ATF or Respondent") action
which revoked its federal firearms license. (Compl., ECF No.
1 at 2).
is a western theme park located in the State of New Jersey.
(Id.) Petitioner was owned and operated by the
Stabile family. (Id.) "Both state and federal
firearms licenses have been held in Stabile's name
individually as well as in the names of StaMat Corporation
and Western World, Inc., companies that have previously
traded as Wild West City." (Id.) Petitioner
alleges that they use the license to purchase firearms for
theatrical purposes at Wild West City. (Id.) The
license is also used "for the sale of firearms to local
law enforcement, re-enactors and unrelated third parties for
their own private use unassociated with the theme park."
(Id. at 3).
7, 2006, a performer was shot in the back of the head during
one of the re-enactments at Wild West City. (Compl., ECF No.
1 at 3). As a result, "the Sussex County, New Jersey
grand jury returned a 25 count indictment against Stabile,
Cheyenne Corporation (the corporation that owns the real
estate that WWC operates upon), Western World, Inc., which at
the time traded as Wild West City, and two other individual
defendants who were employees of Wild West City."
(Id. at 3). The Sussex County Prosecutor's
Office alleged, that one of the performers, "was in a
hurry for the performance and inadvertently loaded one of
WWW's operable firearms with live ammunition that another
performer brought to the park, concealed in a closed gun
case, in violation of company policy and without the
knowledge of management." (Compl., ECF No. 1 at 3).
Thirteen of those counts applied to Stabile, seven counts
applied to Cheyenne Corporation and Western World, Inc. All
counts of the indictment were dismissed as to Stabile and
Cheyenne Corporation. (Id.). All but one count was
dismissed as to Western World. As to the criminal matter,
Western World pleaded guilty "to being an accomplice to
unlawful possession of a handgun, i.e. not having a carry
permit, a third degree crime in the State of New
Jersey." (Id.). As a result, Western World was
sentenced to one-year probation and ordered to pay a fine.
(Id.). On October 12, 2012, the criminal matter was
result of the shooting that took place at Wild West City and
the subsequent criminal investigation, the State of New
Jersey refused to renew Wild West City's state retail
firearms license. (Id. at 3). On September 30, 2010,
the Honorable N. Peter Conforti, J.S.C., presiding in Sussex
County, New Jersey, denied the renewal application of
Stabile's New Jersey Retail Firearms License due to the
criminal charges pending in the indictment against Stabile.
Stabile requested a hearing and appealed the matter to the
New Jersey Superior Court, Appellant Division. (Id.
time the Complaint was filed, there were two appeals pending
in the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellant Division. The two
appeals were merged. (Compl., ECF No. 1 at 4). Docket number
A-4229-11T2 was filed by Petitioner on May 25, 2012 due to
the denial of Petitioner's renewal application for a New
Jersey State License to Retail Firearms. (Pet. Br., ECF 20 at
5). On March 28, 2016, the New Jersey Superior Court,
Appellate Division decided docket number A-4229-11T2. The
court vacated its previous order denying the Petitioner's
license. (Pet. Br., ECF No. 20 at 6). However, the court did
not remand the application for a new hearing because the
license had lapsed. Petitioner has submitted a new application
with the New Jersey State Police. Petitioner alleges that the
New Jersey State Police takes the position that the
Petitioner can only retail firearms to re-enactors that carry
a permit. (Pet. Br., ECF No. 20 at 6).
pending before the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate
Division was an appeal filed by Western World, Inc. assigned
as docket number A-3007-12T2. Western World appealed the
legal question of "whether or not it or any other
're-enactors' needed a carry permit." (Compl.,
ECF No. 1 at 3). However, Western Word, Inc. decided to
withdraw its appeal. (Pet. Br., ECF No. 20 at 7).
about July 3, 2014, Petitioner was notified by Respondent
that its federal firearms license application was being
denied. (Compl., ECF No. 1 at 5). The notice of denial
indicated that Respondent's decision was based on
Petitioner's inability to certify that its federal
firearms business would be in compliance with state law, as
it lacked the requisite state retail firearms license and
that Petitioner did not have a premises from which it
intended to conduct its federal firearms business.
(Id. at 5). Petitioner filed for a hearing with the
ATF to review the notice of denial of its federal license.
September 15, 2014, the ATF conducted a hearing on the notice
of the denial of Petitioner's federal firearms license.
(Compl., ECF No. 1 at 5). Following the hearing, ATF issued a
"Final Notice of Denial" to Petitioner.
(Id.) On October 29, 2014, ATF revoked
Petitioner's license. (Id.)
December 29, 2014, Petitioner filed a Complaint in this Court
for de novo review of Respondent's October 29, 2014
decision. (Compl., ECF No. 1). On May 20, 2016, Respondent
filed a "motion to dismiss or alternatively motion for
summary judgment". (ECF No. 11). On July 12, 2016,
Petitioner filed a motion to amend the Complaint. (ECF No.
20). Petitioner's motion to amend the complaint seeks to
add John Hoffman, the acting Attorney General of the State of
New Jersey and Francis Koch, the Sussex County Prosecutor,
and the Superintendent of the State Police to this action.
(Pet. Br., ECF No. 20 at 5). Petitioner's renewal
application for its State License to Retail Firearms is
currently pending before the Honorable William J. McGovern,
III, in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Criminal Division,
Sussex County. (Pet. Ltr., ECF No. 24 at 2).
Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a) governs requests for leave to
amend, allowing a party to amend its pleadings after
obtaining the Court's leave or the written consent of its
adversary. Under this liberal rule, the Court must
"freely give leave when justice so requires."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2); see also Wright & Miller section
1484, at 676 ("Subdivision (a)(2) encourages the court
to look favorably on requests to amend."). This lenient
standard ensures that "a particular claim will be
decided on the merits rather than on technicalities."
Dole v. Arco Chem. Co., 921 F.2d 484, 487 (3d Cir.
1990) (internal citation omitted); see also Sabatino v.
Union Township. No. 11-1656 (JLL), 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS
54866, at * 17-18 (D.N.J. April 15, 2013) (internal citations