United States District Court, D. New Jersey
OPINION AND ORDER
HONORABLE JAMES B. CLARK, III UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
MATTER comes before the Court on a motion by
Defendant the Netherlands Insurance Company
(“Defendant” or the “Netherlands”)
for leave to file an Amended Answer asserting three
additional separate defenses [ECF No. 52-1]. Plaintiff
Lasermaster International Inc. (“Plaintiff” or
“Lasermaster”) opposes Defendant's motion
[ECF No. 58-1]. The Court fully reviewed the parties'
written submissions and considers Defendant's motion
without oral argument pursuant to L. Civ. R. 78.1(b). For the
reasons set forth below, Defendant's Motion to Amend is
Factual Background and Procedural History
Because the Court's previous Opinion and Order in this
matter lays forth the full background and procedural history
of this case, the Court recites only the relevant facts
pertaining to the present motion. On October 20, 2015,
Lasermaster filed its Complaint in this matter alleging,
inter alia, that Defendant had constructively denied
its insurance claim. See Compl. ¶ 25. In its
Complaint, Lasermaster alleges breach of contract for
business income loss (Count I), and breach of contract for
business personal property (Count II). See generally
Compl. After multiple extensions [ECF Nos. 5, 11], Defendant
filed its answer on December 18, 2015. ECF No. 13. The Court
then convened a case management conference on February 25,
original Pretrial Scheduling Order (“Scheduling
Order”), the Court ordered that “[a]ny motion to
amend the pleadings must be filed [no] later than
5/13/2016.” ECF No. 16 ¶
15 (emphasis in original). On four occasions, at the
parties' request, the Court amended deadlines in the
Pretrial Scheduling Order See ECF Nos. 26, 28, 30,
34. While certain dates were amended based on the Court's
Order, the Court did not modify the deadline for filing
motions to amend pleadings and no request for such a
modification was ever submitted by the parties.
April 20, 2018, the Court filed its Opinion and Order denying
Plaintiff's motion to amend its Complaint for failure to
demonstrate “good cause.” See ECF No.
50. Plaintiff's appealed the Order which is currently
pending before the Honorable Claire C. Cecchi. ECF No. 55. On
April 27, 2018, almost two years after the deadline to amend,
Defendant filed the instant motion to amend its pleading. ECF
No. 52. Plaintiff filed its response to the instant motion,
[ECF No. 58-1], and Defendant filed its reply [ECF No. 61].
The Parties' Arguments
seeks leave to file an Amended Answer pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a) and 16(b) to assert additional
policy-based separate defenses. ECF No. 52-1. Defendant
claims there is good cause to amend its pleading beyond the
Court's deadline because there have been significant
discovery developments that have refined Defendant's
understanding of Plaintiff's case. Id. at 9. To
this point, Defendant contends that Plaintiff's written
discovery and initial document production were inadequate.
Id. at 10-11. Plaintiff supplemented its document
production on November 3, 2017, and again on April 16, 2018.
Id. at 11-12. According to Defendant, this
additional discovery has “refined” its
understanding of Plaintiff's claims.
responds with three points. First, Plaintiff argues that
Defendant cannot establish good cause because Defendant
failed to exercise reasonable diligence and act upon
knowledge within its possession at an earlier time. ECF No.
58-1 at 10. Second, Plaintiff argues that it will be
prejudiced because “Plaintiff would be forced to
question witnesses on memories that are six to seven years
out of date . . ..” Id. at 12. Finally,
Plaintiff argues that the proposed amendment is futile
because it fails as a matter of law. Id. at 15.
reply, Defendant explains that third-party Muir Lake's
and Plaintiff's supplemental productions provide
“crucial context on the nature of the loss of
[Plaintiff's] business personal property claim . .
..” ECF No. 61 at 6. Defendant contends that
“without this additional information, the items which
comprise Lasermaster's business personal property claim
have been difficult to understand.” Id.
Defendant further asserts that it has been diligent in
seeking this additional information. As such, Defendant
argues that the Court should find that good cause exists to
grant its amendments.
threshold issue in resolving a motion to amend is the
determination of whether the motion is governed by Rule 15 or
Rule 16 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.”
Karlo v. Pittsburgh Glass Works, LLC, 2011 WL
5170445, at *2 (W.D.Pa. Oct. 31, 2011). Rule 15 states, in
pertinent part, “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).
“Rule 16, on the other hand, requires a party to
demonstrate ‘good cause' prior to the Court
amending its scheduling order.” Karlo, 2011 WL
5170445, at *2 (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(4)). In situations
such as the present, where a party seeks to amend
“after the deadline for doing so set by the Court, the
movant must satisfy the [good cause standard] of Rule 16
before the Court will turn to Rule 15.” Id. at
*2; see also Dimensional Commc'n, Inc. v. OZ Optics,
Ltd., 148 Fed.Appx. 82, 85 (3d Cir. 2005) (instructing
that the Third Circuit has adopted a good cause standard when
determining the propriety of a motion to amend after the
deadline has elapsed).