Construction Law Insights

Chrisley v. Dan Ryan Builders Mid-Atlantic, LLC, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 38374, 2020 WL 1066341 (W.D. Va. Mar. 5, 2020)

In March 2018, the plaintiffs sued Dan Ryan Builders Mid-Atlantic, LLC and Dan Ryan Builders West Virginia, LLC (collectively “DRB”) for negligent construction and repair of their property and for personal injuries. In August 2018, DRB filed a Third-Party Complaint against various subcontractors, including Builders FirstSource Atlantic-Group, LLC (“Builders FirstSource”); Fine Line Trim, LLC; and Cranford Contractors, Inc. In September 2018, the plaintiffs filed an Amended Complaint against the subcontractors. On January 28, 2019, Builder FirstSource filed a Fourth Party Complaint against MI Windows and Doors, Inc. (“MI Windows”). In April 2019, a Scheduling Order was entered and a jury trial was scheduled for July 27, 2020. The Scheduling Order’s deadline for parties to

amend their pleadings was July 31, 2019. On January 10, 2020, DRB filed a motion to amend/correct its Third-Party Complaint to add a new subcontractor, Southern Maryland Heating and Air, Inc. (“Southern Maryland”) and to initiate a direct action against MI Windows. On January 24, 2020, the plaintiffs filed their opposition. On February 7, 2020, Southern Maryland filed its opposition. The other defendants consented to DRB’s motion.

The Court denied DRB’s motion to amend its pleadings because it was unable to find good cause for allowing DRB to amend its pleadings. Rule 15 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a party may seek leave from the court to amend its pleading and the court should grant leave to amend when justice so requires. Courts may deny leave to amend if the amendment would be prejudicial to the opposing party, there has been bad faith on the part of the moving party, or the amendment would have been futile. The Scheduling Order only allowed parties to amend their pleadings after July 31, 2019 if there was a showing of good cause for granting the requests to amend. Good cause exists when a party’s reasonable diligence before the expiration of the amendment deadline would not have resulted in the discovery of the evidence supporting the proposed amendment. DRB acknowledged that it had knowledge, even before the lawsuit was filed, that the plaintiffs had reported serious issues with the HVAC system, the plaintiffs’ original and amended complaints referenced the HVAC system, and DRB notified Southern Maryland of the lawsuit. Thus, DRB had ample opportunity to include Southern Maryland in the lawsuit in 2018, but did not file its motion to amend until nearly 6 months after the deadline for amending pleadings and 18 months after it filed its Third-Party Complaint. A party’s mere change in strategy does not show diligence or good cause. For similar reasons, the Court denied DRB’s request to initiate a direct action against MI Windows.

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