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Vettel v. Bassett Trucking LLC

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division

March 29, 2018

RAYMOND M. VETTEL, JR., et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
BASSETT TRUCKING LLC, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          PAUL R. CHERRY, MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs' Motion for Leave to Amend Complaint [DE 22], filed by Plaintiffs Raymond M. Vettel, Jr., Joshua D. Vettel, Michael E. Tournor, and Shari K. Vettel on March 1, 2018. Defendants filed a response in opposition on March 6, 2018, and Plaintiffs filed a reply on March 12, 2018.

         PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs filed their Complaint against Defendants Massett Trucking LLC, Bassett Transportation Services Inc., and Mark A. Harmon on September 15, 2017, alleging injuries resulting from a motor vehicle accident involving two semi-trucks, one of which was driven by Plaintiff Raymond M. Vettel, Jr. and in which Plaintiff Joshua D. Vettel and Michael E. Tournor were passengers, and the other of which was driven by Defendant Mark A. Harmon, who was employed by one or both of the other Defendants.

         Defendants filed their Answer on October 4, 2017. On November 1, 2017, the Court held a Rule 16(b) preliminary pretrial conference and set the deadline for Plaintiffs to file motions for leave to amend the pleadings for January 26, 2018, and the discovery deadline for July 27, 2018.

         ANALYSIS

         In the instant motion, Plaintiffs seek leave of Court to amend their complaint to withdraw Plaintiff Joshua Vettel's claim for past, present, and future loss of income and loss of earning capacity and to add a request for punitive damages and language supporting that request.

         Plaintiffs indicate that, during the discovery process, Plaintiffs counsel uncovered evidence that Defendant Harmon made statements at the scene of the accident admitting that he and his employer knew that Harmon was driving on very little sleep and that he had significantly exceeded the number of federally allowed driving hours before beginning the trip he was on at the time of the accident.

         As an initial matter, this case is governed by Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 6(b) and 16 because the instant motion was filed after the deadline for the amendment of pleadings. See Alioto v. Town of Lisbon, 651 F.3d 715, 719-720 (7th Cir. 2011) (discussing the interplay between Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 15(a) and 16(b)). Rule 6(b)(1) provides:

When an act may or must be done within a specified time, the court may, for good cause, extend the time:
(A) with or without motion or notice if the court acts, or if a request is made, before the original time or its extension expires; or
(B) on motion made after the time has expired if the party failed to act because of excusable neglect.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 6(b)(1). Rule 16(b)(4) provides that “[a] schedule may be modified only for good cause and with the judge's consent.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(4).

         Plaintiffs explain that they uncovered what they believe to be evidence sufficient to support a request for punitive damages during the course of discovery. Plaintiffs represent that, on February 7 and 8, 2018, Defendants deposed Plaintiffs. At the depositions, two of the Plaintiffs testified that Defendant Harmon made specific statements at the scene of the accident of knowingly driving over the permitted hours and with very little sleep and that the same was known to the other Defendants as well. Based on this information, ...


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