Take Home Mesothelioma Case Remanded After Plaintiff Adds Dismissed Defendant to Amended Complaint

Charleen Guedry brought this action against multiple defendants for her alleged development of mesothelioma as a result of exposure through her husband’s work clothes. Mr. Guedry worked at International Maintenance/Turner from 1983-2005.

The plaintiffs moved to dismiss claims without prejudice against defendant Arnco on May 12, 2016. Co-defendant Brock indicated to the plaintiffs its intent to remove the case on diversity since Arnco was being dismissed. On May 19, 2016, the plaintiffs withdrew the dismissal of Arnco and desired to conduct discovery based on receiving “several invoices indicating that Arnco supplied material to the premises at issue.” The court granted the plaintiffs’ dismissal, but did not docket the same until May 23, 2016. On May 25, 2016, Brock removed the action on diversity jurisdiction. The plaintiffs then filed for Motion for Leave to file a Second Amended and Supplemental Complaint to rename Arnco.

The court began its analysis with the standard for amendment of pleadings. Under Fed Rule 15, “a party may amend its pleadings only with the opposing party’s written consent or the court’s leave” and the “court should freely give leave when justice so requires.” The court noted the bias in favor of granting leave to amend. Relying on the decision in Hensgens, the factors for determining whether amendment is appropriate includes 1) the extent to which the purpose of the amendment is to defeat federal jurisdiction 2) whether the plaintiff has been dilatory in asking for amendment 3) whether the plaintiff will be significantly injured if amendment is not allowed, and 4) any other factors bearing on the equities. The court quickly found that the first factor was resolved in favor of the plaintiff. Here, Arnco was alleged to have been responsible for the plaintiffs’ injuries. Further, the plaintiffs took the position that Arnco supplied “thousands of products” that may have contained asbestos based on its discovery responses. Moreover, those invoices were not produced by Arnco for 5 months during the state court litigation. Brock countered and stated that the plaintiffs’ contentions that it denied them access to discovery is nothing more than an attempt to get the case back to state court. Brock pointed out that the plaintiffs did not seek relief to get the discovery requests while the matter was in state court.  The court agreed that the plaintiffs sought to amend in part to remand and found that the plaintiffs had “evidenced their intent to seek judgment against the non-diverse defendant from the outset of the litigation in state court.” The second factor under Hensgens also weighed in favor of the plaintiffs as they filed the motion within one month after the dismissal of Arnco. The court also found that the third factor went to the plaintiffs’ favor. A denial of the motion would have added costs to file a new suit against Arnco. The fourth and final factor was found neutral by the court. Here, the plaintiffs argued that Arnco had not participated in good faith discovery. Brock argued that the plaintiffs did nothing to seek relief while in state court. In considering the totality of the evidence, the court found that the factors weighed in favor of allowing the proposed amendment to add Arnco.

Read the full decision here.