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White v. Ameristep, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

December 22, 2017




         This matter is before the Court on plaintiff Jeffrey White's motion for leave to file a second amended complaint (#51), motion to compel discovery (#46), and motion to extend scheduling order deadlines (#52).

         I. Factual Background

         Plaintiff was injured when his Tahsin 2010 Model WMLS-500CS two-man ladderstand (“subject treestand”) allegedly failed and collapsed while he was climbing the treestand's ladder. Plaintiff then filed this product liability lawsuit.

         Plaintiff served his first request for interrogatories and first request for production of documents. Defendants responded to both. Plaintiff also deposed defendants' corporate representative, pursuant to Rule 30(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

         II. Motion for Leave to File a Second Amended Complaint (#51)

         When plaintiff first filed this lawsuit, he named as defendants Ameristep, Inc., and Primal Vantage Co., Inc. Distributor (#1). Then, “based on representations of defense counsel that Primal Vantage was not the proper party, ” plaintiff voluntarily dismissed Primal Vantage and replaced it with Tahsin Industrial Corp. (#24). After deposing Tahsin's corporate representative, plaintiff now believes that Primal Vantage should, in fact, be a defendant in this lawsuit. Plaintiff claims that “Primal [Vantage] continues to be the primary actor in the design, marketing, management[, ] and placement of the subject ladder deer stand in the stream of commerce.” (#51 at 2.)

         Defendants oppose the motion. They argue that “Primal Vantage owed no duty to Plaintiff and . . . did not manufacture, design[, ] or distribute the subject [treestand].” (#57 at 1.) Defendants claim that plaintiff wants to add Primal Vantage as a party so he can discover information about treestands-unrelated to the subject treestand-that Primal Vantage distributes. Defendants urge the Court to deny the motion because (1) it is untimely and dilatory, (2) any claim against Primal Vantage would be futile, (3) adding Primal Vantage as a party would significantly prejudice the other defendants, and (4) the deadline to join or amend parties has passed.

         Plaintiff did not file a reply brief, and the time for doing so has passed.

         Because defendants have filed an answer (#12), plaintiff “may amend [his] pleading only with the opposing party's written consent or the court's leave. The court should freely give leave when justice so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2); see also Bell v. Allstate Life Ins. Co., 160 F.3d 452, 454 (8th Cir. 1998). But parties do not have an absolute right to amend their pleadings, even under this liberal standard. Sherman v. Winco Fireworks, Inc., 532 F.3d 709, 715 (8th Cir. 2008). Whether to grant a motion for leave to amend is within the discretion of the district court. Popoalii v. Correctional Med. Servs., 512 F.3d 488, 497 (8th Cir. 2008).

         A district court may deny a motion to amend if (1) it was filed with undue delay, (2) the moving party filed the motion with bad faith or dilatory motive, (3) the opposing party would be unfairly prejudiced by the amendment, or (4) the amendment would be futile. Bell, 160 F.3d at 454.

         The Court finds that any claims against Primal Vantage, as currently pleaded in plaintiff's proposed second amended complaint, would be futile because they are legally insufficient on their face. Williams v. Little Rock Mun. Water Works, 21 F.3d 218, 225 (8th Cir. 1994). Specifically, plaintiff does not allege that Primal Vantage designed or manufactured the subject treestand for Tahsin. Plaintiff simply claims that Primal Vantage somehow worked with Tahsin in designing the subject treestand. This is a “‘naked assertion' devoid of ‘further factual enhancement'” and does not satisfy the pleading requirements. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 557 (1995)). There is no allegation that explains how Primal Vantage played any role in placing the subject treestand in the stream of commerce.

         Finally, plaintiff does not allege an alter ego or joint venture theory. Thus, nothing in plaintiff's allegations ties Primal Vantage to Tahsin. In sum, plaintiff fails to connect Primal Vantage to both the product and the defendant Tahsin. The amendment would be futile, and plaintiff's request is denied.

         III. Motion to ...

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