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Miller v. Panther II Transportation Inc

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

May 14, 2018

JOHN MILLER, Plaintiff,
v.
PANTHER II TRANSPORTATION, INC., Defendant.

          ENTRY ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO AMEND COMPLAINT

          Tim A. Baker United States Magistrate Judge.

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff John Miller seeks leave to file an amended complaint that would add two new party defendants: William Hall and Expediter Services, LLC. At issue is whether the amendment is futile. Defendant Panther II Transportation, Inc. argues that the statute of limitations has run, and that Miller's motion fails to show the amendment relates back to the date of the original pleading. For the reasons discussed below, the Court concludes the amendment is futile and denies Miller's motion for leave to amend his complaint. [Filing No. 17.]

         II. Background

         On October 11, 2017, Miller filed a personal injury suit in Marion Superior Court against Panther regarding an incident on November 8, 2015. Panther then removed the action to this Court based on diversity jurisdiction. Miller and Panther agree that Indiana law provides the applicable statute of limitations, which in this instance is two years. Therefore, the statute ran on November 8, 2017.

         Based on information provided by Panther and through his own investigation, Miller discovered Hall was the truck driver involved in the incident that injured him, and now seeks to add Hall as a new defendant. Miller also learned that Hall was not employed by Panther, but was instead working on behalf of Expediter (either as an employee or an independent contractor). Thus, Miller also seeks to add Expediter as a new defendant.

         III. Discussion

         Rule 15(a)(2) provides that “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.” This is a liberal standard that “require[s] a district court to allow amendment unless there is a good reason-futility, undue delay, undue prejudice, or bad faith-for denying leave to amend.” Life Plans, Inc. v. Sec. Life of Denver Ins. Co., 800 F.3d 343, 357-58 (7th Cir. 2015).

         Panther argues that there is a good reason for the Court to deny Miller leave-futility. As noted above, the statute of limitations in this matter has run. Panther contends that Miller's amendment is futile unless Miller can show that the date of the amended complaint relates back to the date of the original filing under Rule 15(c)(1). Panther asserts that, because Miller fails to meet the requirements of Rule 15(c)(1), the date of the amendment does not relate back, so the claims against Hall and Expediter are barred by the statute of limitations and will simply be dismissed, making the amendment futile. The Court agrees.

         Under Rule 15(c)(1), for the purpose of determining whether a claim is barred by the statute of limitations, an amendment to a pleading relates back to the date of the original pleading when:

(A) the law that provides the applicable statute of limitations allows relation back;
(B) the amendment asserts a claim or defense that arose out of the conduct, transaction, or occurrence set out-or attempted to be set out-in the original pleading; or
(C) the amendment changes the party or the naming of the party against whom a claim is asserted, if Rule 15(c)(1)(B) is satisfied and if, within the period provided by Rule 4(m) for serving the summons and complaint, the party to be brought in by amendment:
(i) received such notice of the action that it will not be prejudiced in defending ...

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