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Estate of Shield v. Kumho Tire U.S.A., Inc.

United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Western Division

January 9, 2020

THE ESTATE OF ROBERT BEAR SHIELD; JERRY BEAR SHIELD, SR., JERRY BEAR SHIELD, JR., JAYDEE SPOTTED ELK, AMERICAN ZURICH INSURANCE COMPANY, BROUGHT IN FROM 19-5044 WHEN CASES WERE CONSOLIDATED; AND HEAVY CONSTRUCTORS INC., BROUGHT IN FROM 19-5044 WHEN CASES WERE CONSOLIDATED; Plaintiffs,
v.
KUMHO TIRE U.S.A., INC., KUMHO TIRE MERGER SUBSIDIARY, INC., KUMHO TIRE CO. INC., KUMHO TIRE VIETNAM CO., LTD., BROUGHT IN FROM 19-5044 WHEN CASES WERE CONSOLIDATED; Defendants.

          ORDER DENYING THE BEAR SHIELD PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO AMEND DOCKET NO. 42

          VERONICA L. DUFFY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         INTRODUCTION

         This matter represents the consolidation of two separate civil cases involving products liability-related claims arising out of the same automobile accident, allegedly caused by the malfunction of a truck tire. Now pending is a motion to amend their complaint by plaintiffs Brigitte Jahner, as personal representative of the estate of Robert Bear Shield; Jerry Bear Shield, Sr.; Jerry Bear Shield, Jr.; and Jaydee Spotted Elk (collectively “the Bear Shield plaintiffs”). See Docket No. 42. This matter was referred to this magistrate judge for determination pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) and the October 16, 2014, standing order of the Honorable Jeffrey L. Viken, then-Chief United States District Judge. See Docket No. 43.

         FACTS

         This case represents two consolidated cases arising out of the same automobile accident due to an allegedly defective tire. In civil number 18-5036 the Bear Shield plaintiffs sought damages in their original complaint on theories of negligence, strict products liability, breach of warranty, wrongful death, and negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress. See Docket No. 1. These individual plaintiffs originally sued only Kumho Tire U.S.A., Inc. and Kumho Tire Merger Subsidiary, Inc. as defendants. Id.

         Individual plaintiffs filed their original complaint on June 1, 2018. Kumho Tire U.S.A., Inc. filed an answer on July 20, 2018 (Docket No. 6), after which a scheduling order was issued by the district court (Docket No. 16). Defendant Kumho Tire Merger Subsidiary, Inc. filed an answer the next day on August 28, 2018. See Docket No. 18.

         Nearly a year later, individual plaintiffs simply filed an “amended complaint” without a motion, stipulation by the parties, or leave of the court. See Docket No. 21. The individual plaintiffs' amended complaint purported to add “Kumho Tire, Company, Inc., a South Korean Corporation” (hereinafter “KTCI”), as a new defendant. Id. KTCI moved to dismiss the Bear Shield plaintiffs' amended complaint because the Bear Shield plaintiffs never made a motion to amend their complaint as required by Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). This court recommended granting KTCI's motion to dismiss and no party has objected to that recommendation. See Docket No. 37.

         The Bear Shield plaintiffs then filed a motion to amend their complaint. See Docket No. 42. The motion reads in its entirety as follows: “COMES NOW [Bear Shield plaintiffs] and hereby moves the Court for leave to file Plaintiff's [sic] Second Amended Complaint, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 15 and DSD L.R. 15.1. A copy of Plaintiffs' proposed Second Amended Complaint is attached hereto.” See Docket No. 42 at p. 1. The Bear Shield plaintiffs attached a copy of their proposed amended complaint. See Docket No. 42-1. No. memorandum of law in support of the motion was filed.

         Defendants Kumho Tire USA, Inc. and Kumho Tire Merger Subsidiary, Inc. respond in opposition to the Bear Shield plaintiffs' motion to amend. See Docket No. 51. These defendants point out, among other arguments, that a brief in support of any substantive motion is required by local rules and the Bear Shield plaintiffs' motion does not comply with local rules in this regard. Id.

         DISCUSSION

         Rule 15 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs amendments to plaintiffs' complaint. That rule provides in pertinent part as follows:

(a) Amendments Before Trial.
(1) Amending as a Matter of Course. A party may amend its pleading once as a matter of course ...

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