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MRL Crane Service, Inc. v. DLL, L.L.C.

United States District Court, Eighth Circuit

October 9, 2013

MRL CRANE SERVICE, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
DLL, L.L.C., doing business as Western Iowa Construction, Inc., Defendant and Third Party Plaintiff,
v.
ADAMS BUILDING CONTRACTORS, INC., Third Party Defendant.

ORDER

THOMAS D. THALKEN, Magistrate Judge.

This matter is before the court on MRL Crane Service, Inc.'s (MRL) Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint (Filing No. 35). MRL filed a brief (Filing No. 35-2) and a draft of the proposed amended complaint (Filing No. 35-1) with the motion. MRL seeks to add an additional defendant. See Filing No. 35. The third party defendant Adams Building Contractors, Inc. (Adams) filed a brief (Filing No. 36) in opposition to the motion. The defendant DLL, L.L.C., doing business as Western Iowa Construction, Inc. (Western Iowa), did not participate in briefing the motion.

BACKGROUND

This case arises from a contractual relationship for the rental of cranes and other heavy equipment for use in construction work conducted in Nebraska. See Filing No. 1-1 Complaint. MRL alleges that between June 1, 2011, and December 31, 2011, it and Western Iowa entered into a series of contracts for Western Iowa to rent equipment from MRL. Id. at 1. MRL alleges Western Iowa failed to pay the total contractual rental obligations in the amount of $132, 800.09. Id.

MRL filed the case against Western Iowa on August 15, 2012, in the District Court of Hall County, Nebraska. Id. On October 31, 2012, Western Iowa filed an answer, denying liability, and third-party complaint against Adams. Id. at 7. Western Iowa alleges Adams was the general contractor responsible for construction at two work sites in Nebraska and, as part of that contractual relationship, Adams was liable to make payments for construction equipment to MRL. Id. at 9-10 (Answer p. 3-4). Western Iowa alleges claims against Adams for breach of contract and indemnification. Id. at 10-11 (Answer p. 4-5). On December 6, 2012, Adams removed the matter to the United States District Court for the District of Nebraska based on diversity jurisdiction. See Filing No. 1. On December 13, 2012, Adams filed an answer denying liability. See Filing No. 4.

On January 22, 2013, the court entered the initial progression order authorizing the parties to begin discovery and scheduling an April 5, 2013, deadline for the plaintiff to amend the pleadings or add parties. See Filing No. 14. No party sought an extension of the deadline to amend. On May 10, 2013, after a telephone conference with the parties, the court scheduled the case for trial on February 18, 2014, and set the deadlines for expert witness disclosures for July and August, the discovery deadline for August 30, 2013, and the summary judgment deadline for September 16, 2013. See Filing No. 24. At the parties' requests, the court later extended the deadline for completing discovery until September 12, 2013, and the deadline for filing summary judgment motions until October 16, 2013. See Filing Nos. 28, 34.

On September 18, 2013, MRL filed a motion to amend the complaint seeking to add a claim for unjust enrichment against Archer-Daniel-Midland Company (ADM). See Filing No. 35-2 Brief p. 1. MRL alleges the relevant construction project underlying the claims against Western Iowa and Adams involved two grain elevators, property owned by ADM. Id. MRL argues the failure to include ADM initially was an "innocent oversight." Id. at 2. MRL contends the addition of ADM does not allege new underlying facts or issues, diminishing the necessity for further discovery. Id. However, MRL argues if additional is warranted, sufficient time exists to complete such discovery prior to trial. Id. MRL can discern no prejudice to the other parties by adding ADM. Id.

Adams opposes the addition of ADM. See Filing No. 36 - Response. Adams argues the motion is untimely and unduly prejudicial to Adams. Id. at 1. Specifically, Adams correctly notes the deadline to add parties, and most of the other deadlines, have expired. Id. at 1-2. Adams contends the addition of ADM would, in essence, restart the case because ADM may assert its own claims, conduct discovery, identify experts, and file a motion for summary judgment. Id. at 2. Any or all of these activities would delay resolution of the matter for Adams and create duplicative burden and expense for the existing parties. Id.

ANALYSIS

"On motion or on its own, the court may at any time, on just terms, add or drop a party." Fed.R.Civ.P. 21. Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 20, Persons... may be joined in one action as defendants if:

(A) any right to relief is asserted against them jointly, severally, or in the alternative with respect to or arising out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences; and
(B) any question of law or fact common to all defendants will arise in the action.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 20(a)(2).

There can be no dispute MRL's claim against the current defendant and the proposed defendant arise out of the same occurrence and involve common questions of law or fact. Specifically, the plaintiff alleges the Western Iowa breached a contract for the payment of goods and services used to construct grain elevators for ADM. Further, the plaintiff alleges these defendants may be liable to MRL under different, but related theories of relief. Because joinder of the additional party is ...


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