V. Quicken Loans, Inc.

Western District of Texas, txwd-5:2019-cv-00697

Unopposed MOTION to Amend Complaint by Quicken Loans, Inc.

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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS SAN ANTONIO DIVISION PABLO E. GAY and ANNA J. SUBIA § aka ANNA J. SUBIA-GAY, § § Plaintiffs, § § v. § Case No. SA:19-CV-00697-OLG § QUICKEN LOANS INC., § § Defendant. § § DEFENDANT QUICKEN LOANS INC.'S UNOPPOSED MOTION FOR LEAVE TO AMEND ANSWER AND AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSES NOW COMES the defendant, Quicken Loans Inc. ("Quicken Loans"), pursuant to Rule1 15(a)(2), Federal Rules of Civil Procedure,2 and requests leave to amend Defendant Quicken Loans Inc.'s Original Answer and Affirmative Defenses 3 (the "Original Answer"). Under the Scheduling Order,4 the parties have until January 30, 2020, to file motions to amend pleadings. 5 Per Rule CV- 7, Local Court Rules, an executed copy of Defendant Quicken Loans Inc.'s First Amended Answer and Affirmative Defenses (the "First Amended Answer") is attached hereto as Exhibit A and incorporated herein by reference. The plaintiffs, Pablo Gay and Anna Subia-Gay (collectively, "Plaintiffs"), are not opposed to this Motion. In support of this Motion, Quicken Loans respectfully shows the Court the following: 1 All references to rules herein are to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. 2 Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2). 3 Doc. 7. 4 Doc. 15. 5 Id. at 1. Defendant Quicken Loans Inc.'s Unopposed Motion for Leave to Amend Answer and Affirmative Defenses Page 1 DA 404478.3 I. BACKGROUND 1. On May 31, 2019, Plaintiffs filed a petition6 against Quicken Loans in the District Court of Bexar County, Texas, to prevent Quicken Loans from proceeding with a trustee's sale of real property located at 10143 Silverbrook Place, San Antonio, Texas 78254 (the "Property"). 2. On June 14, 2019, Quicken Loans removed the case to this Court. 7 3. On August 9, 2019, Quicken Loans filed its Original Answer. 8 4. On October 23, 2019, this Court entered its Scheduling Order,9 setting January 30, 2020, as the deadline to file motions to amend pleadings. 10 II. ARGUMENTS AND AUTHORITIES A. Legal Standard Governing Motions to Amend Under Rule 15 1. "[A] party may amend its pleading only with the opposing party's written consent or the court's leave. The court should freely give leave when justice so requires." Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2). Rule 15(a) requires that a trial court grant a party leave to amend a complaint freely, and the language of the rule "evinces a bias in favor of granting leave to amend." Marucci Sports, L.L.C. v. Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Ass'n, 751 F.3d 368, 378 (5th Cir. 2014) (citation omitted). 2. A district court must have a "substantial reason" to deny a request for leave to amend. Id. Toward that end, the district court may consider factors such as whether there has been "undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on the part of the movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies 6 Doc. 2. 7 Doc. 1. 8 Doc. 7. 9 Doc. 15. 10 Id. at 1. Defendant Quicken Loans Inc.'s Unopposed Motion for Leave to Amend Answer and Affirmative Defenses Page 2 DA 404478.3 by amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing party, and futility of amendment." Id. (quoting Jones v. Robinson Prop. Grp., LP, 427 F.3d 987, 994 (5th Cir. 2005)). B. Undue Delay, Bad Faith, or Dilatory Motive on the Part of the Movant 3. "In reviewing the timeliness of a motion to amend, delay alone is insufficient: 'The delay must be undue, i.e., it must prejudice the nonmoving party or impose unwarranted burdens on the court.'" N. Cypress Med. Ctr. Operating Co., Ltd. v. Aetna Life Ins. Co., 898 F.3d 461, 478 (5th Cir. 2018) (quoting Mayeaux v. Louisiana Health Serv. & Indem. Co., 376 F.3d 420, 427 (5th Cir. 2004)). Many courts have explained that there is a presumption of timeliness when a party moves for leave to amend before a court-ordered deadline in a scheduling order. See, e.g., Poly–Am., Inc. v. Serrot Int'l Inc., No. CIV.A. 3:00–CV–1457, 2002 WL 206454, at *1 (N.D.Tex. Feb. 7, 2002) (Fitzwater, J.); Pyramid Transp., Inc. v. Greatwide Dallas Mavis, LLC, No. 3:12–CV– 0149–D, 2012 WL 5875603, at *2 (N.D.Tex. Nov. 21, 2012) (Fitzwater, J.). 4. There has been no undue delay, bad faith, or dilatory motive on the part of Quicken Loans. Indeed, the Scheduling Order11 in this case was just entered on October 23, 2019, and under the Scheduling Order,12 the parties have until January 30, 2020, to file motions to amend pleadings; 13 the parties have until March 12, 2020, to conduct discovery; 14 and trial is not until July 20, 2020.15 Thus, this factor weighs in favor of granting Quicken Loans leave to amend its pleading. 11 Doc. 15. 12 Doc. 15. 13 Id. at 1. 14 Id. 15 Id. at 2. Defendant Quicken Loans Inc.'s Unopposed Motion for Leave to Amend Answer and Affirmative Defenses Page 3 DA 404478.3 C. Failure to Cure Deficiencies by Amendments Previously Allowed 5. This is the first time Quicken Loans has sought leave to amend its pleadings. Further, no deficiencies in the Original Answer have been found by the Court. Nor have Plaintiffs filed a motion under Rule 12 attacking any part of the Original Answer. Accordingly, this factor weighs in favor of granting Quicken Loans leave to amend its pleading. D. Undue Prejudice to Opposing Party 6. A party "is prejudiced if an added claim would require [it] 'to reopen discovery and prepare a defense for a claim different from the [one] ... that was before the Court.'" Smith v. EMC Corp., 393 F.3d 590, 596 (5th Cir. 2004) (quoting Duggins v. Steak 'N Shake, Inc., 195 F.3d 828, 834 (6th Cir. 1990)). Courts have found undue prejudice where the amendment will radically change the nature of the litigation and require additional discovery. See Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 952 F.2d 841, 846 (5th Cir. 1992) (holding that the proposed amendment would have radically altered the nature of a trial on the merits because it would have established an entirely new factual basis for plaintiffs' claims and would have required the parties to reopen discovery and alter their trial strategies). On the other hand, court have found no prejudice where proposed defenses are based on the same facts asserted in the plaintiff's complaint. See Ntakirutimana v. CHS/Cmty. Health Sys., Inc., No. CV L-09-114, 2011 WL 13135654, at *3 (S.D. Tex. July 19, 2011) (granting defendant's motion for leave to amend where "proposed defenses are based on the same facts asserted in Plaintiffs' Complaint"). Furthermore, there is no prejudice when there is ample time left for discovery. Id. at *4 ("[W]ith four months left to conduct discovery for these additional claims and defenses, Responding Plaintiffs will not suffer undue prejudice."); Rimkus Consulting Group, Inc. v. Cammarata, 257 F.R.D. 127, 136 (S.D. Tex. 2009) (granting leave to amend a compulsory counterclaim when two months remained in discovery); Cargo v. Kan. City S., 2009 Defendant Quicken Loans Inc.'s Unopposed Motion for Leave to Amend Answer and Affirmative Defenses Page 4 DA 404478.3 WL 541318, at *4 (W.D. La. Mar. 4, 2009) (granting leave to amend when almost two months remain in the discovery period). 7. Under the Scheduling Order,16 the parties have until March 12, 2020, to conduct discovery.17 Thus, there is ample time left for discovery. Furthermore, the parties have not yet conducted any discovery, so allowing Quicken Loans to amend its pleading will not result in any additional discovery. Moreover, the additional affirmative defenses in the First Amended Answer would not fundamentally alter the nature of the case. The affirmative defenses merely propose alternative legal theories to defend against Plaintiffs' claims. See Ntakirutimana at *3 (granting defendant's motion for leave to amend where "proposed defenses are based on the same facts asserted in Plaintiffs' Complaint"). Accordingly, this factor weighs in favor of granting Quicken Loans leave to amend its pleading. E. Futility of Amendment 8. The "futility standard" is "the same standard of legal sufficiency as applies under Rule 12(b)(6)." Stripling v. Jordan Production Co., LLC, 234 F.3d 863, 873 (5th Cir. 2000). In other words, "[a]n amendment is futile if it would fail to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion." Marucci, 751 F.3d at 378 (citing Briggs v. Miss., 331 F.3d 499, 508 (5th Cir. 2003)). However, a district court is not required to engage in a detailed analysis of the proposed pleading to determine whether it is futile. See Moore v. Dallas Indep. Sch. Dist., 557 F. Supp. 2d 755, 759 (N.D. Tex. 2008), aff'd, 370 F. App'x 455 (5th Cir. 2010). Instead, "[i]f a proposed amendment is not clearly futile, then denial of leave to amend is improper." Id. at 759–60 (quoting 6 Charles Alan Wright, Arthur R. Miller & Mary Kay Kane, Federal Practice and Procedure, § 1487, at 637, 642 (2d ed.1990)) 16 Doc. 15. 17 Id. Defendant Quicken Loans Inc.'s Unopposed Motion for Leave to Amend Answer and Affirmative Defenses Page 5 DA 404478.3 (emphasis in original) aff'd, 370 Fed.Appx. 455 (5th Cir.2010). Quicken Loans' proposed amendment is not clearly futile and, therefore, this factor weighs in favor of granting Quicken Loans leave to amend its pleading. III. PRAYER WHEREFORE, Quicken Loans respectfully requests the following relief: A. An order granting Quicken Loans leave to amend its Original Answer; B. An order directing the clerk to promptly file the First Amended Answer attached hereto as Exhibit A; and C. All relief, at law or in equity, to which Quicken Loans is entitled. Respectfully submitted, By: /s/ Jacob Sparks Jacob Sparks Texas Bar No. 24066126 SPENCER FANE LLP 5700 Granite Parkway, Suite 650 Plano, Texas 75024 Tel: (214) 750-3624 Fax: (214) 750-3612 Email: JSparks@SpencerFane.com ATTORNEYS FOR QUICKEN LOANS INC. CERTIFICATE OF CONFERENCE I certify that I conferred with Plaintiffs' counsel prior to filing this Motion, and Plaintiffs are not opposed to the relief requested in the foregoing Motion. By: /s/ Jacob Sparks Jacob Sparks Defendant Quicken Loans Inc.'s Unopposed Motion for Leave to Amend Answer and Affirmative Defenses Page 6 DA 404478.3 CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE I hereby certify that on December 6, 2019, I electronically filed the foregoing Motion with the Clerk of Court using the CM/ECF system which will send notification of such filing to the following: Robert Clarence Newark, III Newark Law Offices 1341 W. Mockingbird Lane Ste 600W Dallas, TX 75246 866-230-7236 Fax: 888-316-3398 Email: office@newarkfirm.com By: /s/ Jacob Sparks Jacob Sparks Defendant Quicken Loans Inc.'s Unopposed Motion for Leave to Amend Answer and Affirmative Defenses Page 7 DA 404478.3