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When Can a Party Be Given Leave to Amend a Pleading?

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Attorney Tom MetierThe United States District Court, D. Colorado looked at this procedural conundrum in Jones v. American Family Insurance, (Civil Action No. 16-cv-02084-CMA-MEH, March 23, 2017).  Renee Jones (“Jones”) sued American Family Insurance Company (“American”) in August of 2016 for bad faith breach of contract, statutory delay, and outrageous conduct. Jones hit a bicyclist while she was driving. She was covered by State Farm, with American being her secondary policy. The two insurance companies represented Jones and offered policy limits. American added some conditions to its settlement offer, and the bicyclist rejected the offer with the conditions attached. Eventually a jury found in favor of the bicyclist for a million dollars, reduced by 45% because of comparative negligence. Jones was mad—and sued American.

This case is a procedural one, looking at Rule 15 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (“FCRP”) to determine whether Jones can be given leave to amend her pleading. The rule says that after the 21-day period for service of the original pleading or service of a responsive pleading or Rule 12 motion, a party may amend its pleading only by leave of the court or by written consent of the adverse party.

The Court examines all the rules covering Rule 15 of the FRCP and decided that Jones facts were not delayed nor prejudicial and are relevant to her existing claims. So, the Court recommends that the judge grant Jones leave to amend her complaint to add some factual allegations. But wait, there’s more…

The Court also concludes the allegations do not demonstrate genuine issues of material fact, so the Court recommends that the judge find the proposed claim would likely be dismissed for Jones’ failure to show why the case would have to be submitted to a jury for resolution. The Court says the judge should deny Jones leave to add a claim for exemplary damages. So, the Court recommends that the judge grant part and deny part of Jones’ revised motion, and give her the time to file her Amended Complaint.

The Metier Law Firm is committed to assisting people with personal injury claims throughout Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska, and we frequently serve as co-counsel to law firms nationwide. Tom Metier recently secured the largest personal injury verdict in Colorado.

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