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Beaudoin v. Accelerated Logistics, LLC

United States District Court, D. Maryland

November 30, 2018



          Catherine C. Blake United States District Judge

         Lee Beaudoin ("Beaudoin") has sued Accelerated Logistics, LLC and Accelerated Services, LLC ("Accelerated"), alleging negligence, assault, and battery. Currently pending before the court are three motions. First, Beaudoin has filed a motion to amend the complaint. Second, Beaudoin has filed a motion for sanctions for the spoliation of evidence. Third, Accelerated has filed a motion for summary judgment as to the counts of assault and battery and the plea for punitive damages. For the reasons stated below, Beaudoin's motion to amend the complaint and her motion for sanctions for spoliation of evidence will be denied, and Accelerated's motion for summary judgment will be granted.


         This case arises out of an accident that occurred on February 9, 2017, in the Royal Farms parking lot at 1200 Ponca Street in Baltimore, Maryland. (Compl. ¶ 7, ECF No. 2). Leonard Moore ("Moore"), driving a tractor trailer owned by Accelerated, and carrying nine vehicles, attempted to make a left turn into traffic to leave the Royal Farms parking lot. (Beaudoin Dep. 38:2-14, 40:8-22). Beaudoin was stopped behind the tractor trailer when the trailer began backing up towards her car. (Id. 40:3-5; 41:23, 42:15-16). Beaudoin honked her horn and attempted to get the tractor trailer driver's attention. (Beaudoin Aff. ¶ 2)., Despite Beaudoin's efforts to attract Moore's attention, the tractor trailer struck Beaudoin's car, crushing the front of the vehicle. (Id.). Subsequently, the tractor trailer left the parking lot. (Beaudoin Dep. 47:14). Beaudoin brought suit against Accelerated alleging negligence, assault, and battery. (Compl. ¶¶ 17-52). Beaudoin seeks monetary relief, including punitive damages. (Id. ¶¶ 26, 41, 52).


         I. Motion to Amend the Complaint

         Beaudoin moved to amend the complaint to add Leonard Moore as a defendant, and to add causes for negligent hiring and retention, negligent supervision and training, and negligent entrustment.[1] Because the deadline to amend the pleadings set by the court's scheduling order has expired, the court must conduct a two-step inquiry to determine if amendment is appropriate: (1) has Beaudoin satisfied the good cause standard set by Rule 16(b)?; and (2) if Rule 16(b)'s strictures are satisfied, is amendment of the complaint proper under Rule 15(a)? See Nourison Rug Corp. v. Parvizian, 535 F.3d 295, 298-99 (4th Cir. 2008); Wonasue v. Univ. of Maryland Alumni Ass'n, 295 F.R.D. 104, 106-07 (D. Md. 2013).

         Rule 16(b)'s good cause standard "requires the party seeking relief [to] show that the deadlines cannot reasonably be met despite the party's diligence." McMillan v. Cumberland Cty. Bd. of Educ, 734 Fed.Appx. 836, 845 (4th Cir. 2018) (quoting Cook v. Howard, 484 Fed. App'x. 805, 815 (4th Cir. 2012)).[2] "[T]he good-cause standard will not be satisfied if the [district] court concludes that the party seeking relief (or that party's attorney) has not acted diligently in compliance with the schedule." McMillan, 734 Fed.Appx. at 845 (quoting Cook, 484 Fed. App'x. at 815). The facts the court should consider, include whether the non-moving party could be prejudiced by the delay, the length of the delay, and whether the movant acted in good faith. Tawwaab v. Va. Linen Serv., Inc., 729 F.Supp.2d 757, 768-69 (D. Md. 2010).

         Rule 15(a)(2) holds that a court should "freely give leave [to amend] when justice so requires." Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). "[D]enial of leave to amend is appropriate when (1) the amendment would be prejudicial to the opposing party; (2) there has been bad faith on the part of the moving party; or (3) the amendment would have been futile." Drager v. PLIVA USA, Inc., 74.1 F.3d 470, 474 (4th Cir. 2014).

         Beaudoin has not established good cause to amend the complaint. Even though the court set a February 12, 2018, deadline for joinder of additional parties and amendment of the pleadings, (Scheduling Order, ECF No. 11), Beaudoin did not move to amend the complaint until May 3, 2018, (Pl.'s Mot. to Amend Compl., ECF No. 15). Beaudoin explained this delay by noting that though she received a copy of Moore's employment application, including his background check, Motor Vehicle Record, and Pre-Employment Screening Program Report ("PSP Report") on January 31, 2018, it was not readable, and a clearer version was not produced by Accelerated until April 30, 2018. (Pl.'s Reply, Mot. to Amend Compl. at 3, ECF No. 23). Further, Beaudoin did not receive a copy of Accelerated's hiring guidelines and procedures until May 4, 2018. (Id. at 1-2). And Beaudoin alleged that facts relevant to her proposed additional causes of action did not come to light until Moore's deposition on April 17, 2018. (Id. at 4). Beaudoin's arguments are not convincing.

         The PSP Report, produced on January 31, 2018, clearly denotes Moore's previous driving infractions, including speeding, driving beyond the federal 14-hour duty period, and driving a Commercial Motor Vehicle while disqualified. (PSP Report, Ex. 9 at 2-3, EGF No. 18-9). Therefore, even if Beaudoin did not receive a readable-copy of Moore's employment application until April 30, 2018, she was on notice by January 31, 2018 that Moore's driving record was far from pristine. Cf. Wcmasue, 295 F.RD. at 108 (finding the plaintiff did not act in good faith when she claimed to have learned facts for the first time in a deposition, but had previously received a personnel file which included the relevant facts). Beaudoin's notice of these facts prionto the deadline set by the court's scheduling order distinguishes this case from cases where leave to amend has been granted because entirely new evidence came to light after the scheduling order deadline. See Tawwaab, 729 F.Supp.2d at 770 (good cause to amend found because documents and depositions containing the relevant evidence were not produced or conducted, respectively, until several months after the scheduling order deadline).

         Beaudoin alleges that several new facts-beyond the blemishes on.Moore's driving record-came to light during Moore's deposition. Specifically, that: Accelerated never questioned Moore about discrepancies between his job application and the violations listed in the PSP report; Accelerated never questioned Moore about the suspension of his license; Accelerated never interviewed Moore before hiring him; and Accelerated did not train Moore upon hiring him.[3] And Beaudoin emphasizes that she did not receive Accelerated's hiring guidelines and procedures until after the deadline set by the scheduling order. But a "party need not wait on evidentiary 'confirmation' before pleading a claim for which it has a reasonable, good-faith basis." United States v. Hartford Accident and Indemnity Co., No. JKB-14-2148, 2016 WL 386218, at *6 (D. Md. Feb. 2, 2016). The PSP Report provided the requisite factual predicates for the claims of negligent hiring and retention, negligent supervision and training, and negligent entrustment that Beaudoin now seeks to add. The additional facts that came to light during Moore's deposition may have colored these claims, but they are by no means necessary prerequisites. And if Beaudoin believed she could not assert these claims without first reviewing Accelerated's hiring guidelines and practices she could have moved to extend the deadline for amendment of pleadings. See Hartford Accident, 2016 WL 386218, at *6. Because Beaudoin received information about Moore's history of driving infractions before the deadline set to amend the pleadings, the court finds Beaudoin did not act diligently in complying with the scheduling order.

         And even if the Rule 16(b)'s good cause standard was satisfied; amendment would be denied under Rule 15(a) because it would unduly prejudice the defendants. "Whether an amendment is prejudicial will often be determined by the nature of the amendment and its timing." Laber v. Harvey,438 F.3d 404, 427 (4th Cir. 2006). "[T]he further the case progressed before judgment was entered, the more likely it is that the amendment will prejudice the defendant." Id; see also May field v. Nat'l Ass'n for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc., 674 F.3d 369, 379 (4th Cir. 2012) (quoting Matrix CapitalMgmt. Fund, LP v. BearingPoint, Inc.,576 F.3d 172, 193 (4th Cir. 2009)). Beaudoin did not file her motion to amend until six days before the close of discovery. (Scheduling Order at 2, ECF No. 11). And Accelerated has agreed to stipulate to liability-admitting that Moore, driving within the scope of his employment, negligently . operated a tractor trailer and struck Beaudoin's ...

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