United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
Michael H. Watson, Judge.
OPINION AND ORDER
ELIZABETH A. PRESTON DEAVERS, CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE
matter is before the Court for consideration of Defendants
9052-9025 Quebec Inc., VTL V-Trans LTD, and VTL
Transport's (“Defendants”) Motion to File an
Amended Answer and Affirmative Defenses to Plaintiffs'
Complaint (ECF No. 160) and Plaintiffs' Response in
Opposition (ECF No. 161.) Defendants did not file a Reply.
For the following reasons, Defendants' Motion is
initiated this action on December 22, 2016. (ECF No. 1.)
Plaintiffs filed an Amended Complaint on June 20, 2017 (ECF
No. 25) and a Second Amended Complaint on August 31, 2017
(ECF No. 37.) Plaintiffs filed a Third Amended Complaint on
March 2, 2018 (ECF No. 64) and a Fourth Amended Complaint on
July 30, 2018 (ECF No. 96). Plaintiffs allege that P.H.
Glatfelter Company, a paper products manufacturer, contracted
with Defendants to ship a load of paper from a plant in
Chillicothe, Ohio to a customer in Toronto. (ECF No. 96, at
pg. 3.) Plaintiffs further allege that Defendants
sub-contracted the load to Spartan Freight Systems, Inc. for
transport. (Id.) The semi-tractor trailer carrying
the load was involved in a car crash with the Plaintiffs'
Chevy Traverse. (Id.) Two passengers in the Chevy
Traverse, Plaintiffs' two young children, died from
injuries sustained in the crash. (Id. at pg. 3-4.)
Defendants filed their Answer to Plaintiffs' Fourth
Amended Complaint on September 24, 2018. (ECF No. 117.)
March 5, 2019, Defendants filed a Motion to File an Amended
Answer and Affirmative Defenses to Plaintiffs' Complaint.
(ECF No. 160.) Defendants assert that they wish to amend
their affirmative defense to include preemption of
Plaintiff's claims by the Federal Aviation Authorization
Administration Act (“FAAAA”), which they assert
is supported by the ruling in Creagan v. Wal-Mart
Transp., LLC, 354 F.Supp.3d 808 (N.D. Ohio Dec. 12,
2018). Creagan was issued on December 12, 2018,
after Defendants had filed their Answer to Plaintiffs'
Fourth Amended Complaint. (See ECF No. 117.)
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a) governs amendments to
the pleadings, when, as here, a motion to amend is brought
after the deadline set within the Court's scheduling
order, a party must satisfy the standards of both Rule 15(a)
and 16(b)(4). Korn v. Paul Revere Life Ins. Co., 382
Fed.Appx. 443, 449 (6th Cir. 2010) (citing Leary v.
Daeschner, 349 F.3d 888, 905-09 (6th Cir. 2003)).
“Once the scheduling order's deadline to amend the
complaint passes, . . . a plaintiff first must show
good cause under Rule 16(b) for failure earlier to seek leave
to amend and the district court must evaluate prejudice to
the nonmoving party before a court will [even] consider
whether amendment is proper under Rule 15(a).”
Commerce Benefits Grp. Inc. v. McKesson Corp., 326
Fed.Appx. 369, 376 (6th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks
and citation omitted) (emphasis added); cf. Johnson v.
Metro. Gov't of Nashville & Davidson
Cnty., Nos. 10-6102 & 11-5174, 2012 WL 4945607
at * 17 (6th Cir. Oct.18, 2012) (“Rule 15 is augmented
by Rule 16, which states that the generally wide latitude to
amend may be restricted by the court's other scheduling
Rule 16(b)(4), the Court will modify a case scheduling
“only for good cause . . . .” Fed.R.Civ.P.
16(b)(4). The party seeking modification of the case schedule
has the “obligation to demonstrate ‘good
cause' for failing to comply with the district
court's scheduling order . . . .” Pittman ex
rel. Sykes v. Franklin, 282 Fed.Appx. 418, 425 n.5 (6th
Cir. 2008). In determining whether good cause exists, the
primary consideration “is the moving party's
diligence in attempting to meet the case management
order's requirements.” Commerce Benefits,
326 Fed.Appx. at 377 (internal quotation marks and citation
omitted); see also Leary, 349 F.3d at 906 (quoting
1983 advisory committee notes to Fed.R.Civ.P. 16) (“But
a court choosing to modify the schedule upon a showing of
good cause, may do so only ‘if it cannot reasonably be
met despite the diligence of the party seeking the
extension.'”). Finally, the Court must also
consider “potential prejudice to the nonmovant . . .
.” Leary, 349 F.3d at 909. Even if an
amendment would not prejudice the nonmoving party, a
plaintiff must still provide good cause for failing to move
to amend by the Court's deadline. Korn, 382
Fed.Appx. at 450; see also Wagner v. Mastiffs, Nos.
2:08-cv-431, 2:09-cv-0172, 2011 WL 124226 at *4 (S.D. Ohio
Jan.14, 2011) (“[T]he absence of prejudice to the
opposing party is not equivalent to a showing of good
proponent of a belated amendment demonstrates good cause
under Rule 16(b)(4), a court will then evaluate the proposed
amendment under Rule 15(a). Commerce, 326 Fed.Appx.
at 376. Pursuant to Rule 15(a), the Court should freely grant
a party leave to amend his or her pleadings when justice so
requires. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a). Rule 15(a) sets forth “a
liberal policy of permitting amendments to ensure the
determination of claims on their merits.” Oleson v.
United States, 27 Fed.Appx. 566, 569 (6th Cir. 2001)
(internal quotations omitted). As the United States Court of
Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has noted, “[f]actors
that may affect [a Rule 15(a) ] determination include undue
delay in filing, lack of notice to the opposing party, bad
faith by the moving party, repeated failure to cure
deficiencies by previous amendment, undue prejudice to the
opposing party, and futility of the amendment.”
Seals v. Gen. Motors Corp., 546 F.3d 766, 770 (6th
Cir. 2008). When considering the issue of prejudice, a court
must ask whether allowing amendment would “require the
opponent to expend significant additional resources to
conduct discovery or prepare for trial” or cause
considerable delay in resolving the dispute. Phelps v.
McClennan, 30 F.3d 658, 662-63 (6th Cir. 1994).
Court finds that Defendants have failed to demonstrate good
cause under Rule 16(b)(4). As previously explained, the key
inquiry is whether the party was diligent in its efforts to
timely file the proposed amended filing. Defendants assert
that their “motion should not be considered to be
unduly delayed” because Creagan was issued on
December 12, 2018. (ECF No. 160, at PAGEID # 4494.)
Defendants argument is not well taken, however, for the
Creagan is not the first case to address preemption
by the FAAAA. See, e.g., Rowe v. New Hampshire
Motor Transp. Ass'n, 552 U.S. 364, 370 (2008)
(holding that FAAAA preempts state enforcement actions and
laws having connection with or reference to carrier rates,
routes, or services); Krauss v. IRIS USA, Inc., No.
17-778, 2018 WL 2063839, at *4-6 (E.D. Penn. May 3, 2018)
(concluding that the FAAAA preempts plaintiff's personal
injury claim); Volkova v. C.H. Robinson Co., No.
16-1883, 2018 WL 741441, at *4 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 7, 2018)
(finding that the negligent hiring claims against the
defendants were preempted by the FAAAA); Georgia Nut Co.
v. C.H. Robinson Co., No. 17-3018, 2017 WL 4864857, at
*1 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 26, 2017) (finding that “the FAAAA
preempts state-law negligent hiring and negligent supervision
claims”). All of these cases that addressed preemption
by the FAAAA were available before Defendants filed their
Answer to Plaintiff's Fourth Amended Complaint.
(See ECF No. 117 (filed on September 24, 2018).)
Defendants filed their Motion to Amend on March 5, 2019. (ECF
No. 160.) Defendants, however, were aware of the
Creagan ruling at least as early as January 9, 2019,
nearly a full month after it was issued, as evidenced by the
fact that they indicate in their Motion that “[b]y way
of a January 9, 2019 email between counsel, all parties have
been made aware of the [Creagan] ruling and its
potential impact.” (Id. at PAGEID # 4494.)
Furthermore, on February 15, 2019, Defendants included an
analysis of Creagan in their Reply in Support for
Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 157.) Despite having
knowledge of the Creagan ruling, Defendants did not
file their Motion to Amend until March 5, 2019. (ECF No. 160.)
Accordingly, the Court finds that a new case on a topic that
has already been litigated, here preemption by the ...