United States District Court, D. Maryland
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Stephanie A. Gallagher United States Magistrate Judge.
Evelyn Brundage (“Plaintiff”) brought this action
against Defendant MV Transportation, Inc. (“MV”)
for injuries she sustained while attempting to board a van MV
operated for Maryland Transit Administration Mobility
Paratransit Services (“MTA Mobility”).
See [ECF No. 3]. The parties consented to proceed
before a magistrate judge. See [ECF Nos. 11, 13].
Now pending are Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Amend and
Remand (“Motion to Amend”), [ECF No. 16],
Defendant's Motion to Permit Filing of Audio Recording
(“Motion to File Audio Recording”), [ECF No. 20],
and Plaintiff's Motion to Strike Defendant's
Supplement, [ECF No. 22]. I have considered these motions and
the other related filings. [ECF Nos. 17, 18, 21, 23]. No
hearing is necessary. See Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md.
2016). For the reasons set forth herein, Plaintiff's
Motion to Amend will be GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART,
Defendant's Motion to File Audio Recording will be
DENIED, and Plaintiff's Motion to Strike Defendant's
Supplement will be DENIED.
29, 2014, Plaintiff fell and severely injured her shoulder
while attempting to enter an MTA Mobility van outside of her
home in Baltimore, Maryland. See Pl.'s Am.
Compl., [ECF No. 3 at ¶¶ 1, 11]. MV owned and
operated the van pursuant to a transportation service
contract with MTA Mobility. See Id. at ¶ 4.
According to Plaintiff, the driver of the van (“MV
Employee”) breached a duty owed by paratransit
operators to ensure the safe transport of disabled passengers
by failing to help Plaintiff safely board the van. See
Id. at ¶¶ 3-14.
filed suit against MV in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City
under a respondeat superior theory of liability.
See Id. Thereafter, MV, a California corporation
headquartered in Texas, removed the case to this Court under
28 U.S.C. § 1441, invoking the Court's original
jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. See
[ECF No. 1]. Plaintiff filed an amended complaint
(“First Amended Complaint”) the same day that MV
removed the case. See Pl.'s Am. Compl., [ECF No.
3]. On November 28, 2016, the Court issued a Scheduling
Order, see [ECF No. 10], and the parties have since
engaged in discovery efforts including exchanging Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 26(a)(1) initial disclosures,
participating in expert and witness depositions, serving
written discovery, and conducting an independent medical
examination of Plaintiff's injuries. See
Pl.'s Mot., [ECF No. 16, 3]; Def.'s Opp., [ECF No.
17, 7]; Def.'s Supp., [ECF No. 21, 3]. Plaintiff now
timely moves to file a Second Amended Complaint in order to
1) join the MV driver, Angela Paige, as a non-diverse
defendant to the suit, and 2) correct factual errors in the
First Amended Complaint. See Pl.'s Mot., [ECF
No. 16, 1 & Ex. 2]. Plaintiff simultaneously moves to
remand this matter to the Circuit Court for Baltimore City,
because joining Ms. Paige necessarily defeats the Court's
diversity jurisdiction. See Pl.'s Reply, [ECF
No. 18, 4 n.1]. MV consents to Plaintiff's proposed
factual amendments, Def.'s Opp., [ECF No. 17, 2 at n.1],
but opposes Plaintiff's desire to join a non-diverse
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Rule of Civil Procedure 15 provides that a party seeking to
amend its pleading after twenty-one days following service
may do so “only with the opposing party's written
consent or the court's leave.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
15(a)(1)(B). Furthermore, the Rule requires courts to
“freely give leave when justice so requires.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). The Fourth Circuit has liberally
construed this standard, such that leave to amend should be
denied only if prejudice, bad faith, or futility is present.
See Johnson v. Oroweat Foods Co., 785 F.2d 503, 509
(4th Cir. 1986) (interpreting Foman v. Davis, 371
U.S. 178 (1962)); Hart v. Hanover Cnty. Sch. Bd.,
495 F. App'x 314, 315 (4th Cir. 2012).
decision whether to allow a party to join a non-diverse
defendant after a case has been removed rests within the
“sound discretion” of the district court.
Mayes v. Rapoport, 198 F.3d 457, 461-62 (4th Cir.
1999). In such cases, the district court “may deny the
joinder, or may permit the joinder and remand the action to
the State court.” 28 U.S.C. § 1447(e). “In
exercising its discretion under Section 1447(e), the district
court [is] entitled to consider all relevant factors,
including: ‘the extent to which the purpose of the
amendment is to defeat federal jurisdiction, whether the
plaintiff has been dilatory in asking for amendment, whether
the plaintiff will be significantly injured if amendment is
not allowed, and any other factors bearing on the
equities.'” Mayes, 198 F.3d at 462
(citations omitted). In addition, though the fraudulent
joinder doctrine does not directly apply to post-removal
cases, the district court may consider, as one factor,
whether the movant seeks to join a non-diverse party solely
to deprive the court of diversity jurisdiction. Id.
proposes two relatively minor factual corrections to the
First Amended Complaint. First, Plaintiff now alleges she
fell and injured her left shoulder, rather than her right
shoulder. See Pl.'s Mot., [ECF No. 16, 3]
Second, while Plaintiff originally claimed that Ms. Paige
drove across a double yellow line in the roadway prior to
pulling up to Plaintiff's home, Plaintiff now indicates
that the roadway does not have marked traffic lanes.
Id. As previously noted, MV does not oppose
Plaintiff's proposed factual amendments. Def.'s Opp.,
[ECF No. 17, 2 at n.1]. With MV's consent, and finding no
indicia of prejudice, bad faith, or futility to otherwise
warrant denial of these amendments, see Johnson, 785
F.2d at 509, the Court grants Plaintiff's motion to file
a Second Amended Complaint containing the factual
Joinder of Non-Diverse Party
also proposes to join Ms. Paige, an MV Employee and a
resident of Baltimore City, as an additional defendant whose
negligence directly caused Plaintiff “serious and
permanent injuries.” See Pl.'s Mot., [ECF
No. 16, 1-4 & Ex. 4]. The parties offer lengthy and
opposing accounts regarding whether the equities favor or
disfavor permitting Plaintiff's proposed joinder of a
non-diverse party. See Pl.'s Mot., [ECF No. 16,
3-9]; Def.'s Opp., [ECF No. 17, 3-7]; Pl.'s Reply,
[ECF No. 18, 3-10]. Ultimately,
[t]he district court, when faced with an amended pleading
naming a new nondiverse defendant in a removed case, should
scrutinize that amendment more closely than an ordinary
amendment and should conduct a balancing of the equities
involved. On the one hand is the danger of parallel lawsuits
in federal and state court, which may spawn inconsistent
results and inefficient use of judicial resources. On ...