United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division
OPINION AND ORDER
Collins, United States Magistrate Judge
the Court is a motion to amend (DE 525) filed by Plaintiff
Valley Forge Insurance Company (“Valley Forge”),
seeking leave to file a third amended complaint “to add
an additional party and to streamline the pleading” in
this almost three-year-old case. (DE 525 at 1). Defendants
Hartford Iron & Metal, Inc. (“Hartford
Iron”), and Alan B. Goldberg doing business as Hartford
Iron & M (“Goldberg”) oppose the motion on
the grounds of undue delay, undue prejudice, and futility.
(DE 569). The motion is now ripe for ruling. (DE 575; DE
576-1; DE 577). For the following reasons, Valley Forge's
motion to amend will be DENIED.
Factual and Procedural Background
Forge filed this suit against Hartford Iron and Goldberg
(together, “Defendants”) on January 10, 2014,
claiming that Defendants had breached a settlement agreement
entered into by the parties in December 2012 that purported
to settle the parties' respective rights and duties under
certain insurance contracts relating to an environmental
dispute. (DE 1). The factual background of this case is very
complicated and known to the parties, and thus, the Court
will not set forth a detailed factual summary here.
docket entries now exceed 600 in this case, and this
litigation has been contentious since the outset. The
District Judge has ruled on various dispositive motions,
including motions to dismiss, a motion for partial summary
judgment, and a motion seeking injunctive relief, and 17
third-party defendants have been added and since terminated.
(See, e.g., DE 58; DE 298; DE 305; DE 375; DE 415;
DE 430; DE 439; DE 449; DE 469; DE 504; DE 564; DE 581). An
amended motion for partial summary judgment is currently
pending before the District Judge. (AR 514).
Court conducted an initial preliminary pretrial conference on
April 21, 2015, and set a discovery deadline of April 21,
2017. (DE 72). The Court held a further preliminary pretrial
conference on June 1, 2016, affirming the discovery deadline
of April 21, 2107, and setting the following deadlines: July
1, 2016, for Rule 26(a)(1) initial disclosures; January 3,
2017, for Rule 26(a)(2) disclosures by Valley Forge; January
31, 2017, for Rule 26(a)(2) disclosures by Defendants;
February 28, 2017, for rebuttal experts; September 30, 2016,
for Valley Forge to seek leave to amend the pleadings or join
additional parties; and October 31, 2016, for Defendants to
seek leave to amend the pleadings or join additional parties.
(DE 463). A scheduling conference before the District Judge
is set for January 18, 2017, for the purpose of determining
dispositive motion deadlines and a trial schedule.
as to amendments to the pleadings, Valley Forge first amended
its complaint on January 21, 2014, shortly after filing this
suit. (DE 6). Valley Forge filed a second amended complaint
with leave of Court on April 22, 2015. (DE 73; DE 74). Valley
Forge then filed a third motion to amend (DE 281) on November
24, 2015; however, it later withdrew the motion (DE 344; DE
349) following the Court's ruling on its motion for
partial summary judgment on the issue of control and
remediation (DE 298).
Forge filed the instant motion to amend (DE 525) on September
30, 2016, and it became ripe for ruling on November 24, 2016
(DE 569; DE 575; DE 576-1; DE 577).
Applicable Legal Standard
decision to grant or deny a motion to file an amended
pleading is a matter purely within the sound discretion of
the district court.” Soltys v. Costello, 520
F.3d 737, 743 (7th Cir. 2008) (alteration in original)
(citation omitted). “The court ‘should freely
give leave when justice so requires.'” Id.
(quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2)); see Foman v. Davis,
371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962). “Although the rule reflects a
liberal attitude towards the amendment of pleadings, courts
in their sound discretion may deny a proposed amendment if
the moving party has unduly delayed in filing the motion, if
the opposing party would suffer undue prejudice, or if the
pleading is futile.” Soltys, 520 F.3d at 743
(citation omitted); see Foman, 371 U.S. at 182;
Ind. Funeral Dirs. Ins. Tr. v. Trustmark Ins. Corp.,
347 F.3d 652, 655 (7th Cir. 2003) (“[C]ourts may deny
an amendment for undue delay, bad faith, dilatory motive,
prejudice, or futility.” (citation omitted)).
Forge's stated purpose for seeking to file a third
amended complaint is two-fold: “to add an additional
party and to streamline the pleading.” (DE 525). As to
the first stated purpose, Valley Forge seeks to name Goldberg
Properties, Inc. (“GPI”), the owner of the
Hartford Iron environmental site at issue and Hartford
Iron's current landlord, as an additional defendant.
Forge contends that it has learned through discovery that GPI
is the owner of the environmental site and Hartford
Iron's current landlord, and that GPI should bear
responsibility for some or all of the environmental
contamination issues at the site. Valley Forge emphasizes
that its motion to amend is timely, as it was filed on
September 30, 2016, its last day to seek leave to amend its
pleadings. It further asserts that the proposed amended
complaint “cannot reasonably be said to unfairly
surprise or prejudice Defendants.” (DE 525 at 2).
Forge contends that it first learned of GPI through
discovery, emphasizing that Defendants failed to disclose GPI
in their Rule 26(a)(1) initial disclosures, which Valley
Forge finds inexplicable considering that Hartford Iron and
GPI have the same executive officers-Alan Goldberg as
president and Scott Goldberg as vice president. (DE 575 at 5). In
response, Hartford Iron is silent as to its initial
disclosures, but it emphasizes that Valley Forge should have
been aware of GPI's ownership interests at least as early
as March 2015 when August Mack Environmental, Inc.,
identified GPI as a ...