United States District Court, D. Maine
ALAN J. PERRY, NINA PERRY, LAURA PERRY, Plaintiffs
JULIET ALEXANDER AND PETER TINKHAM, Defendants PETER TINKHAM AND JULIET ALEXANDER, Plaintiffs and Counterclaim Defendants
LAURA PERRY, Defendant and Counterclaim Plaintiff
DECISION AND ORDER ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO AMEND
ANSWER TO ASSERT COUNTERCLAIMS
C. Nivison U.S. Magistrate Judge
consolidated matter is before the Court on Defendant Juliet
Alexander and Peter Tinkham's motion to amend their
answers to assert counterclaims. (Motion, ECF No. 128.)
Through the motion, Defendants seek to assert an eight-count
counterclaim. Plaintiffs oppose Defendants' request
citing in part the timing of Defendants' motion.
a review of the parties' submissions and after
consideration of the parties' arguments, the Court denies
matter was removed to this Court on August 5,
2015. Following the resolution of
Plaintiffs' motion to remand, which resolution included
proceedings before the First Circuit, the Court issued a
scheduling order that established August 11, 2016, as the
deadline for amendments to the pleadings and designated
October 27, 2016, as the discovery deadline. (Order, ECF No.
32.) After the close of discovery and following the First
Circuit's dismissal of Defendants' interlocutory
appeals (Judgment, ECF No. 84), the Court scheduled the
matter for a final pretrial conference. At the conference,
held on April 7, 2017, the Court scheduled the matter for
trial in June 2017. (Order, ECF No. 99.) On May 18, 2017,
Defendants moved to amend the scheduling order to re-open
discovery, which motion the Court denied. (Motion, ECF No.
104; Order, ECF No. 130.) The matter is now set for jury
selection on July 10, 2017, with trial to commence on July
15(a)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits a
litigant to amend a pleading “once as a matter of
course, ” subject to certain time constraints. In the
case of an answer, freedom to amend without leave of court is
permitted within 21 days of the date on which the answer was
filed. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1)(A). Thereafter, leave of court
is required, though leave should be granted “freely . .
. when justice so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2);
see also Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962).
The standard is elevated, however, when the motion seeking
leave to amend is filed after the deadline for amendment of
the pleadings found in the Court's scheduling order. A
motion to amend that is filed beyond the scheduling order
deadline requires an amendment of the scheduling order. To
obtain an amendment of the scheduling order, a party must
demonstrate “good cause.” Johnson v. Spencer
Press of Maine, Inc., 211 F.R.D. 27, 30 (D. Me. 2002);
El- Hajj v. Fortis Benefits Ins. Co., 156 F.Supp.2d
27, 34 (D. Me. 2001); Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(4). A court's
decision on good cause “focuses on the diligence (or
lack thereof) of the moving party more than it does on any
prejudice to the party-opponent.” Steir v. Girl
Scouts of the USA, 383 F.3d 7, 12 (1st Cir. 2004).
“Particularly disfavored are motions to amend whose
timing prejudices the opposing party by ‘requiring a
re-opening of discovery with additional costs, a significant
postponement of the trial, and a likely major alteration in
trial tactics and strategy.'” Id. (quoting
Acosta-Mestre v. Hilton Int'l of P.R., Inc., 156
F.3d 49, 52 (1st Cir. 1998)). It falls to the court's
discretion whether to grant a late motion to amend, and that
discretion should be exercised on the basis of the particular
facts and circumstances of the case. Id.
principal issue generated by Defendants' motion is the
potential impact on the scheduled trial of claims that have
been the subject of protracted litigation. Plaintiffs argue
the proposed amendments introduce new claims, which would
require discovery and thus result in a significant delay in
the trial. Defendants maintain that little, if any, discovery
would be necessary because the proposed counterclaims are
based on events and conduct that are the subject of the
claims that have been litigated throughout this case.
Defendants' arguments are unpersuasive.
proposed amendments add several new claims to Defendant Peter
Tinkham's counterclaim,  and add a new counterclaim
plaintiff (Defendant Juliet Alexander). The proposed
amendments thus include additional substantive claims,
another claimant, and claims for additional damages. The
amendments would undoubtedly result in further discovery and
a notable delay in the trial. In addition, most, if not all,
of the facts upon which Defendants rely to support their
counterclaims were known to Defendants for many months and
years prior to the filing of the motion to amend. Defendants
have not offered a compelling reason for the timing of their
request to assert the counterclaims. Under the circumstances,
Defendants have not demonstrated good cause to amend their
answers to assert additional counterclaims at this late stage
of the proceedings.
on the foregoing analysis, the Court denies Defendants'
motion to amend their answers to assert additional
 Defendants filed two separate proposed
amended answers. (ECF Nos. 128-1, ...