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Parrish v. JCI Jones Chemicals, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

January 30, 2019

LUCAS PARRISH; MELINA PARRISH, Individually and as prochien ami for minor Children E.L.P., born in 2002; and E.D.P., born in 2002, Plaintiffs,
v.
JCI JONES CHEMICALS, INC., a for-profit New York Corporation; JOHN DOES 1-10; DOE CORPORATIONS 1- 10; DOE PARTNERSHIPS 1-10; and DOE ENTITIES 1-10, Defendants. JCI JONES CHEMICALS, INC., Third-Party Plaintiff,
v.
STATE OF HAWAI‘I; COUNTY OF HAWAI‘I, Third-Party Defendants.

          ORDER AFFIRMING ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFFS' REQUEST FOR LEAVE TO FILE FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

          JILL A. OTAKE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is Plaintiffs Lucas and Melina Parrish's (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) Appeal In-Part of Magistrate Judge's Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Plaintiffs' Request for Leave to File First Amended Complaint (the “Appeal”). Doc. No. 79. Defendant JCI Jones Chemicals, Inc. (“Defendant”) filed its response and opposition on November 27, 2018. Doc. No. 82. This matter shall be decided without a hearing pursuant to Rule 7.2(e) of the Local Rules of Practice for the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii. For the reasons set forth below, the Court AFFIRMS the Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Plaintiffs' Request for Leave to File First Amended Complaint.

         I. BACKGROUND

         As the parties and the Court are familiar with the factual history of this case, the Court need not recount it here. The Court includes only those facts necessary for the disposition of this Appeal.

         On August 22, 2017, Plaintiffs initiated this action in the Circuit Court of the Third Circuit, State of Hawai‘i, asserting negligence (Count I) and strict liability (Count II) claims against Defendant. Doc. No. 1, Ex. A. Defendant removed the action on the basis of diversity jurisdiction on October 13, 2017. Doc. No. 1.

         On September 20, 2018, the Magistrate Judge approved a stipulation granting Defendant leave to file a third-party complaint against the State of Hawai‘i and the County of Hawai‘i (“County”). Doc. No. 55. Defendant filed its Third-Party Complaint the same day. Doc. No. 56. The County filed its Answer to the Third-Party Complaint and a Counterclaim against Defendant on October 26, 2018. Doc. No. 64. Plaintiffs filed a Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint and for Remand on October 30, 2018.[1] Doc. No. 66.

         With respect to the request to amend the Complaint, Plaintiffs sought to (1) allege additional facts related to their negligence claim against Defendant, and (2) add direct claims against the County. Doc. No. 66. On November 19, 2018, the Magistrate Judge issued an Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Plaintiffs' Request to File First Amended Complaint. Doc. No. 77. The Magistrate Judge granted Plaintiffs' request for leave to amend to add factual allegations against Defendant but denied Plaintiffs' request to add direct claims against the County. Id.

         The Magistrate Judge considered Plaintiff's request for amendment under 28 U.S.C. § 1447(e) because the proposed claims would destroy complete diversity. Id. at 5. He noted that the decision to allow joinder is discretionary and based on the weighing of the following factors:

(1) whether the new defendants should be joined under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure [(“FRCP”)] 19(a) as “needed for just adjudication”; (2) whether the statute of limitations would preclude an original action against the new defendants in state court; (3) whether there has been unexplained delay in requesting joinder; (4) whether joinder is intended solely to defeat federal jurisdiction; and (5) whether the claims against the new defendant appear valid; and (6) whether denial of joinder will prejudice the plaintiff.

Id. at 6. The Magistrate Judge found that factors (3), (4), and (5) weighed in favor of amendment and that factors (1), (2), and (6) weighed against amendment. Id. at 6-10.

         As to whether the County should be joined under FRCP 19(a), the Magistrate Judge concluded that “[a]lthough Plaintiffs' claims against the County arise from the same events as their claims against Defendant JCI, it is not necessary to consider the claims against the County to resolve Plaintiffs' existing claims against Defendant JCI nor it is necessary to join the County to protect its interests.” Id. at 7.

         In considering whether the statute of limitations would preclude an original action against the new defendants in state court, the Magistrate Judge noted that Plaintiffs would not be precluded because they have already filed an action in state court. Id. The Magistrate Judge also determined that Plaintiffs had not demonstrated sufficient prejudice. Id. at 9.

         Considering the factors as a whole, the Magistrate Judge held:

After weighing the relevant factors and considering the circumstances of this case, the Court finds that it is not appropriate to allow Plaintiffs to assert claims against the County in this action. As noted above, the County is not a necessary party to this litigation and Plaintiffs have already filed a state court action against the County in state court. Further, this action has been proceeding for more than a year in federal court, the dispositive motions deadline is set for January 2, 2019, and ...

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