Glannon Civil Procedure: “Amending Pleadings”
Here is a case from my Civil Procedure class which explains the concept of amending a pleading. In this case, if a honest mistake has been made, a party can amend their pleading to resolve it. Nothing is set in stone–just yet.
Case Name, Citation Number, Author
Beeck v. Aquaslide ‘N’ Dive Corp., 562 F.2d 537, 1977 U.S. App. 11589, 24 Fed. R. Serv. 2d (Callaghan) 1
Plaintiff (Beeck) sued Defendant (Aquaslide) on theories of negligence, strict liability, and breach implied warranty. Defendant initially admitted to manufacturing the slide in question but later moved to amend its answer to deny manufacture; the court resisted the motion. The district court granted leave to amend. On motion of the defendant, a separate trial was held to ask if “Defendant designed the slide in question.” It went to a jury and entered summary judgment for defendant and dismissed the case. Plaintiff appealed.
–The plaintiff suffered catastrophic injury on defendant’s slide in question.
–Defendant admitted to manufacturing the slide in question, in its answer to the original complaint.
–Much later in the lawsuit, after the statute of limitations had seemingly run on any new claims by the plaintiff arising out of the water slide accident, the defendant then realized that the water slide was not its water slide.
–Defendant sought to amend its answer to change its admission of manufacturing the slide to a denial
whether the defendant Aquaslide ‘N’ Dive Corporation would be allowed to deny the manufacture of the slide in question?
Yes because there was no evidence of bad faith, prejudice and undue delay to overbalance Rule 15a (Go to Notes)
–District Court did not abuse its discretion in allowing the defendant to amend its answer
–Amending it would allow the defendant to contest a disputed factual issue at trial. To deny the amendment would be prejudicial.
Rule 15a declares that leave to amend “shall be freely given when justice so requires.” The is on the party opposing the amendment to such prejudice.
Rule 15. Amended and Supplemental Pleadings
(a) AMENDMENTS BEFORE TRIAL
(1) Amending as a Matter of Course. A party may amend its pleading once as a matter of course within:
(A) 21 days after serving it, or
(B) if the pleading is one to which a responsive pleading is required, 21 days after service of a responsive pleading or 21 days after service of a motion under Rule 12(b),(e), or (f), whichever is earlier
(2) Other Amendments. In all other cases, 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.
(3) Time to Respond. Unless the court orders otherwise, any required response to an amended pleading must be made within the time remaining to respond to the original pleading or within 14 days after service of the amended pleading, whichever is later.
Courts allow do-overs! But if only if it was a mistake and justice requires it. The amended pleading must be done within 21 days.
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