November 28, 2022

Volume XII, Number 332

Advertisement
Advertisement

COURT RULES AGAINST POOR PLUMBING COMPANY: How to Show Good Cause

Hi guys! Brittany here.

An interesting case came out the other day and thought I would share it with you all.

Let’s get to it.

Jill Adler filed suit against All Hours Plumbing Drain Cleaning, alleging All Hours violated the TCPA by sending prerecorded telemarketing messages without obtaining the requisite prior express written consent.

But I’m not here to talk about whether an ATDS was used or whether Adler provided her consent to be contacted by All Hours. Not as fun, I know. Instead, I’m going to talk about amendments. More specifically, All Hours brought forth a motion to amend its Answer after the deadline contained in the Scheduling Order.

As I’m sure most of you are aware, Scheduling Orders in federal court are court orders that determine the flow of litigation. In other words, a scheduling order establishes important dates and deadlines that the parties have to adhere to leading up to trial. Most notably, a scheduling order usually contains the deadline for parties to amend the pleadings.

In this case, All Hours filed its Answer on April 16, 2021, which did not contain any counterclaims. The Scheduling Order contained a deadline, which provided the last day the parties could amend the pleadings was July 6, 2021.

On March 29, 2022, All hours filed a motion seeking to amend its answer to include a counterclaim for quantam meruit (damages). Although it was nearly nine months after the deadline, All hours argued that they recently learned of new information that necessitated the amendment. This seems reasonable to me.

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16(b)(4), “the court may extend the deadlines in a scheduling order if the movant is able to demonstrate ‘good cause’ for that modification.”  However, when a party seeks to extend the time to “perform ‘any act’ after the deadline has passed, the court may extend the deadline only upon a showing of good cause and that the failure to act was due to excusable neglect.”

In addition to Rule 16, a party seeking leave to amend must also satisfy the Rule 15(a) amendment standard. The decision to grant or deny a party’s request to amend is within the court’s discretion.

So, the court here lays out two elements that All Hours must meet—good cause and excusable neglect. Well, how can one show good cause?

The Court here says good cause requires “a greater showing than excusable neglect.” The good cause inquiry focuses on the diligence of the party and the party’s efforts to meet the deadline. Notably, carelessness (simply missing the deadline) does not equal diligence.

Sadly, the Court concluded All Hours failed to establish good cause to amend its Answer after the deadline had passed. All Hours argued the inquiry of good cause should focus on whether Adler would be prejudiced by the delay and, it didn’t seem as though she would. However, the Court found prejudice may be relevant in the excusable neglect analysis, but not for good cause.

I am saddened the Court wouldn’t even let the poor plumbing company collect for the work it did!

The Court did not even walk through the excusable neglect analysis. At the end, All Hours was unable to amend its Answer to include a counterclaim for damages unfortunately.

So a note to all the attorneys out there—act diligently and take these deadlines seriously because courts are looking to you for proof of good cause.

© 2022 Troutman FirmNational Law Review, Volume XII, Number 167
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

About this Author

Brittany A. Andres Attorney TCPA Litigation Troutman Firm
Associate Attorney

Brittany Andres is the Baroness of the TCPAWorld and an Associate Attorney at Troutman Firm. Brittany has extensive experience handling high exposure and complex cases from inception to resolution. Brittany attended the University of California, Irvine where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. Brittany went on to attend Chapman University, Dale E. Fowler School of Law and earned her Juris Doctor. Brittany's practice at Troutman Firm is focused on class action defense litigation related to the Telephone Consumer Protection (TCPA) and compliance.

949-350-5612
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement