United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Chattanooga
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
K. LEE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
the Court is Plaintiff Lynda Davis's Motion to Amend
Complaint [Doc. 24]. She has attached a proposed amended
complaint [Doc. 24-1]. Defendant Wal-Mart Stores East, L.P.,
filed a response in opposition [Doc. 25], and Plaintiff filed
a reply [Doc. 26]. This matter is now ripe.
removed this case from the Bradley County Circuit Court on
January 5, 2017, based on the Court's diversity
jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
original complaint, Plaintiff claims that she was seriously
injured when the hood of her car fell on her hands while she
was investigating the type of car battery she had. At the
time, she had the hood propped up with the hood's
internal metal rod. Five days before the incident, she had
taken her car to Wal-Mart to have it serviced. She claims
that while her car was being serviced, an employee damaged
the metal rod such that it “became disengaged from its
tether” and none of the employees informed Plaintiff
about the issue or did anything to fix it [Doc. 1-2 at Page
ID # 6].
now seeks to amend her complaint to increase her request for
compensatory damages from $100, 000 to $250, 000, and to add
a request for $1, 000, 000 in punitive damages. She also
includes new allegations concerning her car battery;
specifically, that a Wal-Mart employee misrepresented what
type of car battery Plaintiff had, either intentionally or
while acting with gross negligence [Doc. 24-1]. She argues
that “[b]ut for those misrepresentations no injuries
would have occurred.” [id. at Page ID # 97].
on December 29, 2017, Plaintiff filed a motion to enlarge
time for filing a motion to amend her complaint [Doc. 19].
Over Defendant's objection, the Court permitted Plaintiff
to file a motion to amend her complaint, despite the fact
that the deadline for amendments was August 1, 2017. The
Here, the Court is faced with two options, neither of which
is appealing to the Court. On the one hand, the Court could
deny Plaintiff's motion, which would potentially preclude
Plaintiff from obtaining a determination of damages based on
the merits of the claims. On the other hand, the Court could
grant Plaintiff's motion, which would reward Plaintiff in
spite of her failure to comply with the Court's
scheduling order. Even though the Court does not condone
Plaintiff's actions, or lack thereof, refusing to afford
Plaintiff a limited opportunity to file a motion to enlarge
the time to file a motion to amend might prevent the Court
from resolving issues in this case on the merits. This result
is too harsh given the circumstances at issue.
[Doc. 23 at Page ID # 91-92]. The Court ordered Plaintiff to
file her motion to amend within three days of entry of the
order. Plaintiff then timely filed the instant motion to
amend [Doc. 24].
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure directs that, where
an amendment is not made as a matter of course, “a
party may amend its pleading only with the opposing
party's written consent or the court's leave.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). “The court should freely give
leave when justice so requires.” Id. Factors
relevant in determining whether leave should be denied
include “undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on
the part of the movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies
by amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the
opposing party by virtue of allowance of the amendment, [and]
futility of the amendment.” See Foman v.
Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962); see also Leary v.
Daeschner, 349 F.3d 888, 905 (6th Cir. 2003). Although
leave to amend is ordinarily freely given under Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 15, an amendment may be denied as futile
if the claim sought to be added “could not withstand a
Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss.” See Rose v.
Hartford Underwriters Ins. Co., 203 F.3d 417, 420 (6th
Cir. 2000). A court is prohibited from looking to
facts outside the proposed amended pleading when determining
whether the amendment is futile. See Id. at 420-421.
opposes certain aspects of the amendment, arguing that
Plaintiff is asserting new facts which would require
unidentified discovery, that allowing Plaintiff to assert
those new facts would be prejudicial to Defendant because
discovery closed on November 28, 2017, and that the amendment
would be futile. For the reasons stated below, the Court
agrees with Defendant that Plaintiff has failed to properly
plead facts or any legal theory that could support an award
of punitive damages against Defendant, and therefore allowing
that amendment would be futile. The Court will, however,
allow Plaintiff to amend her complaint to increase the amount
of compensatory damages she seeks, and to assert her
additional allegations concerning the car battery.
Tennessee law, which governs in this diversity action:
(g)(1) Notwithstanding subdivision (a)(9), punitive damages
may be awarded against a defendant based on vicarious
liability for the acts or omissions of an agent or employee
only if the finder of fact determines by special verdict
based on clear and ...