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Youngman v. Robert Bosch LLC

United States District Court, E.D. New York

February 11, 2013

Catherine E. YOUNGMAN, Plaintiff,
ROBERT BOSCH LLC, et al., Defendants.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Robert J. Epstein, New York, NY, for Plaintiff.

Richard H. Bakalor, Susan B. Clearwater, Quirk and Bakalor, P.C., New York, NY, for Defendants.


JAMES ORENSTEIN, United States Magistrate Judge.

Defendants Robert Bosch LLC, Robert Bosch Tool Corporation (collectively, " Bosch" ), Lowe's Home Centers, Inc., and Lowe's Companies, Inc. (collectively, " Lowe's" ) seek leave to file an amended Answer that asserts affirmative defenses under New Jersey law to the plaintiff's tort claims. See Docket Entry (" DE" ) 39 (original motion); DE 42 (supplemental motion papers); Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). Plaintiff Catherine E. Youngman (" Youngman" ), in her capacity as the Trustee of the bankruptcy estate of original plaintiff Dominik Charkiewicz (" Charkiewicz" ), opposes the amendment: she claims that the court must apply the substantive law of

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New York, and that the proposed amendment is therefore futile; in addition, she contends that the motion is untimely. See DE 40; DE 46. For the reasons set forth below, I grant the defendants leave to amend their Answer.[1]

I. Background

Charkiewicz filed this action in state court on February 25, 2011. He asserted tort claims under New York law based on injuries he claimed to have sustained as a result of using a table saw that the defendants manufactured and sold. See generally DE 1 at 7-27 (Verified Complaint) (the " Complaint" ). In his Complaint, Charkiewicz stated that he " resides" in Brooklyn, New York; that he purchased the table saw at a Lowe's store in Staten Island, New York on December 7, 2007; and that he sustained an injury while using the saw at an address in Bayonne, New Jersey on February 28, 2009. Id. ΒΆΒΆ 2, 45-47. On May 25, 2011, the defendants— all of them corporate entities incorporated, and with principal offices, in states other than New York— then invoked federal diversity jurisdiction to remove the case to this court. DE 1 at 1-3 (removal notice).

On June 1, 2012, the defendants filed the instant motion. They asserted that discovery in this case had revealed that the Bayonne site of the accident mentioned in the Complaint was in fact Charkiewicz's residence at the time. Based on that fact and their analysis of applicable choice-of-law rules, the defendants argued that this case is governed by the law of New Jersey; as a result, they asked leave to file an amended complaint raising affirmative defenses under New Jersey law. DE 39. Youngman (who was substituted as plaintiff after being appointed as the Trustee for Charkiewicz's bankruptcy estate, see DE 35; Fed.R.Civ.P. 25) opposes the motion on two grounds. First, she contends that the addition of affirmative defenses under New Jersey law would be futile because Charkiewicz was a New York resident at all material times for the purposes of determining controlling law, and that this action arises under the substantive law of New York. Second, she argues that the defendants waited too long to seek leave to amend their Answers. DE 40; DE 46.

II. Discussion

Once a party is no longer permitted to amend its pleading as a matter of course, see Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1), that party may only amend its pleading upon the consent of its adversaries or by leave of the court. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). Such leave shall be " freely give[n] ... when justice so requires." Id. Although the determination of a motion for leave to amend is committed to the court's sound discretion, see

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Dluhos v. Floating and Abandoned Vessel, Known as " New York" , 162 F.3d 63, 70 (2d Cir.1998), a court should not deny leave to amend absent reasons such as (among others not pertinent here) " undue delay" or the " futility" of the proposed amendment. Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182, 83 S.Ct. 227, 9 L.Ed.2d 222 (1962). I address each proffered basis for denying leave to amend in turn below.

A. Undue Delay

Youngman contends that I should deny the motion as untimely. She notes that that the defendants have had all the information necessary to conduct a choice-of-law analysis and assert defenses under New Jersey law since the outset of this litigation. Moreover, Youngman asserts that she shaped her discovery strategy around an assumption that New York law would control, that she would have chosen a different discovery strategy had she known ...

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