Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Marshall v. Payne

Superior Court of Delaware

October 25, 2018

Burtran K. Marshall and Senithia Thomas
v.
Brittany A. Payne

          Joel H. Fredricks, Esquire Weik, Nitsche, & Dougherty, LLC

          Theodore J. Segletes, III, Esquire Law Offices of Chrissinger & Baumberger

          Vivian L. Medinilla Judge

         Dear Counsel:

         This is the Court's ruling on Defendant's Motion to Amend Answer to Plaintiffs' Complaint. For the reasons stated below, the Defendant's Motion is DENIED.

         Procedural and Factual Background

         The allegations in the Complaint arise from a motor vehicle accident that occurred on September 5, 2015, where Defendant's vehicle struck the vehicle that Burtran K. Marshall ("Plaintiff Marshall") was driving and wherein Senithia Thomas ("Plaintiff Thomas") was a passenger.[1] Plaintiffs allege Defendant was negligent when she disregarded a red light and struck Plaintiffs' vehicle.[2] Plaintiffs allege they have suffered personal injuries, pain and suffering, and medical expenses.[3]

         On December 14th, 2016, Plaintiffs Burtran K. Marshall and Senithia Thomas ("Plaintiffs") filed a complaint against Brittany A. Payne ("Defendant").[4] On March 16, 2017, Defendant filed an Answer to the Complaint.[5] On August 4, 2017, Defendant filed Answers to Plaintiffs' Interrogatories.[6] Plaintiff Thomas was deposed on September 15, 2017 and Plaintiff Burtran was deposed on June 29, 2018.[7] On November 21, 2017, Defendant was scheduled to be deposed but did not appear.[8] In the Trial Scheduling Order dated February 12, 2018, a deadline to amend the pleadings was not included because Defendant stated that the deadline was not necessary for the defense.[9]

         On July 16, 2018, Defendant filed its Motion to Amend Answer to Plaintiffs' Complaint.[10] On August 1, 2018, Plaintiffs filed an Opposition to Defendant's Motion.[11] Defendant seeks to amend the Answer to include a counterclaim against Plaintiff Marshall for his negligence and "to assert specific affirmative defenses related to Mr. Marshall's negligence and Plaintiffs' failure to join an indispensable party."[12] Defendant argued in its Motion that under Delaware Superior Court Civil Rule 15(a), the Court should grant its Motion to Amend Answer to Plaintiffs' Complaint because justice so requires.[13]

         Plaintiffs argue that where Defendant failed to plead an affirmative defense in its first responsive pleading, and does not fall within one of the two exceptions under Superior Court Civil Rule 8(c), Defendant has waived the defense.[14] In the alternative, Plaintiffs argued that even if Defendant did fall within one of the two recognized exceptions under Rule 8(c), Defendant fails to satisfy the prejudice prong under Rule 15(c).[15]

         Oral arguments were heard on August 14, 2018 and the Court reserved its decision and requested supplemental briefing on the issue of how granting leave to amend would prejudice passenger Plaintiff Thomas. Defendant filed supplemental briefing on August 24, 2018. Plaintiffs filed their response on August 30, 2018.

         Defendant argues in its supplemental briefing that passenger Plaintiff Thomas would not be prejudiced by the Amendment because any claim Plaintiff Thomas would have against Plaintiff Marshall would relate back to the original Complaint.[16]Plaintiffs disagrees and argues that prejudice is established where the passed statute of limitations precludes Plaintiff Thomas from making a direct claim against Plaintiff Marshall.[17] This Court agrees.

         Standard of Review

         Rule 15(a) allows a party to amend its pleading "only by leave of court or by written consent of the adverse party."[18] Further, leave of court "shall be freely given when justice so requires."[19] Although freely given, "justice may not require that leave to amend be freely given if the party seeking to amend has been inexcusably careless, or if the amendment would unfairly prejudice an opposing party."[20]Prejudice, "is to be tested by the terms of Rule 15(c) and leave to amend which would otherwise be freely given will be given with relation back consequences if the requirements of Rule 15(c) are met."[21]

         Discussion

         First, this Court finds that Defendant fails to satisfy the exception under Superior Court Civil Rule 8(c). This rule mandates that a party shall assert any affirmative defenses including contributory negligence.[22] If a defendant does not plead an affirmative defense in ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.