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Catlin Syndicated Ltd. v. Ramuji, LLC

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Middle Division

October 4, 2017

CATLIN SYNDICATE LIMITED, Plaintiff,
v.
RAMUJI, LLC d/b/a BUDGET INN and PEOPLES INDEPENDENT BANK, Defendants. RAMUJI, LLC and PEOPLE'S INDEPENDENT BANK, Counterclaim/Third Party Plaintiffs, GREAT AMERICAN ASSURANCE COMPANY Third-Party Plaintiff Intervenor
v.
RANDY JONES & ASSOCIATES, INC., JON PAIR, CERTAIN UNDERWRITERS AT LLOYD'S, LONDON SUBSCRIBING SEVERALLY TO POLICY NO. ULL 20018, named as “SYNDICATE 1414 AT LLOYD'S ASCOT UNDERWRITING LIMITED, SYNDICATE 5820 AT LLOYD'S ANV SYNDICATES LIMITED, SYNDICATE 727 AT LLOYD'S S.A. MEACOCH & COMPANY LIMITED, and SYNDICATE 1861 at LLOYD's ANV SYNDICATED LIMITED, Third-Party Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          VIRGINIA EMERSON HOPKINS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This is a civil action. Pending before the Court are the following Motions:

• Randy Jones & Associates (“Jones”) and Jon Pair (“Pair”) Motion To Dismiss the third party complaints of Ramuji LLC (“Ramuji”) and Peoples Independent Bank (“PIB”). (Doc. 95 at 1-2).
• PIB Motion To Amend its third-party complaint (Doc. 106 at 1-2).

         For ease of understanding, convenience, and simplicity, the Court will take up both the PIB Motion To Amend (doc. 106) and the Jones/Pair Motion To Dismiss (doc. 95) together.

         II. RELEVANT BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         These motions are a part of a larger case initiated by Catlin Syndicate on August 16, 2016, regarding different insurance policies insuring the same property (which suffered a fire loss). See (doc. 1 at 1-6); (doc. 93 at 2-10). Over the course of the litigation, there have been counterclaims (doc. 9 at 1), intervenors (doc. 87 at 6), and, at issue here, third-party complaints.

         Ramuji and PIB both claim insured status under the Catlin Syndicate policy. Each of them separately filed third-party complaints against Jones and Pair, the brokers who allegedly committed negligence, wantonness, and breach of contract among other claims. See (doc. 49); (doc. 46). There are several versions of these third-party complaints. PIB filed a third-party complaint on September 19, 2016. (Doc. 12 at 18). Ramuji filed a third-party complaint on September 23, 2016. (Doc. 15 at 1). PIB then filed an amended third-party complaint on January 24, 2017. (Doc. 46 at 15). Ramuji then filed an amended third-party complaint on January 24, 2017. (Doc. 49 at 1). PIB then restated its third-party complaint. (Doc. 98 at 1). On September 7, 2017, PIB moved the Court for leave to amend its third-party complaint once again. (Doc. 106 at 2).

         Should the Court grant PIB's Motion To Amend, this would mean that the most recent third-party complaint by PIB would be document 106. The most recent third-party complaint by Ramuji would be document 49.

         Ramuji's third party complaint against Jones and Pair alleges negligence (doc. 49 at 12), wantonness (doc. 49 at 14), breach of contract (doc. 49 at 16), fraud/misrepresentation (doc. 49 at 17), and conspiracy to commit fraud/misrepresentation (doc. 49 at 19). “Pair and Jones procured the policy in question which Underwriters at Lloyd's are attempting to avoid.” (Doc. 49 at 4). In its third-party complaint, Ramuji details its perspective on how Pair and Jones failed to provide proper insurance brokerage. (See doc. 49 at 4-12).

         III. STANDARDS AND ISSUES PRESENTED

         At issue as to the Motion To Dismiss is whether Ramuji's claims against Jones and Pair are ripe under Rule 12(b)(1). (See doc. 95 at 6-10) Also at issue is whether Jones and Pair were properly joined under Rule 14. (See doc. 95 at 11-14). At issue as to the Motion To Amend is the Rule 15 standard. The Court will explain each standard in the course of its analysis of each issue.

         IV. ANALYSIS

         A. Whether To Grant the PIB Motion To Amend (Doc. 106)

         On September 7, 2017, PIB filed a Motion To Amend Its Amended Answer, Counterclaim, and Third Party Complaint. (Doc. 106). This Motion To Amend would bring back claims the Court dismissed in its Memorandum Opinion and Order. See (Doc. 105 at 33-34); (Doc. 107 at 2-6); (Doc. 108 at 2-4). In this Court's Memorandum Opinion and Order, dated August 18, 2017, the Court dismissed many of PIB's claims. (Doc. 105 at 33-34). However, the Court did not specify if the dismissal was with, or without, prejudice. (Doc. 105 at 33-34).

The Scheduling Order from November 16, 2016, states as follows:
Plaintiff(s) may amend pleadings and/or join additional parties, in accordance with Fed.R.Civ.P. 15, until June 9, 2017. Defendant(s) may amend pleadings and/or join additional parties, in accordance with Fed.R.Civ.P. 15, until June 9, 2017.

(Doc. 31).

         The Court entered an order on March 29, 2017, “[e]xtending All Deadlines In The Scheduling Order, DOC 31 by 90 days.” (Doc. 72). The Court entered another Order on June 19, 2017, “[e]xtend[ing] all Deadlines in Scheduling Order by 120 days.” (Doc. 86). 90 days (the amount of time extended in the Doc. 72 order) from June 9, 2017, (the original deadline for amending pleadings in Doc. 31) is September 7, 2017. 120 days (the amount of time extended in the Doc. 86 order) from September 7, 2017, is January 5, 2018. Therefore, PIB's amended pleadings are timely under the Scheduling Order as amended.

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a) states 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 within:
(A) 21 days after serving it, or
(B) if the pleading is one to which a responsive pleading is required, 21 days after service of a responsive pleading or 21 days after service of a motion under Rule 12(b), (e), or (f), whichever is earlier.
(2) Other Amendments. In all other cases, 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.
(3) Time to Respond. Unless the court orders otherwise, any required response to an amended pleading must be made within the time remaining to respond to the original pleading or within 14 days after service of the amended pleading, whichever is later.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a).

         On September 13, 2017, the Underwriters partially opposed the Motion To Amend. (Doc. 107). The “Underwriters object to PIB's Motion to the extent the proposed amended pleadings re-assert claims that have already been adjudicated on the merits.” (Doc. 107 at 4). The Underwriters cited cases basically holding that “unless otherwise specified, a dismissal for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6) is presumed to be both a judgment on the merits and to be rendered with prejudice.” (Doc. 107 at 3) (quoting another source) (emphasis added by Underwriters). The “Underwriters do not object the Motion to the extent that Motion seeks leave of Court to file an amended pleading which includes new allegations about causes of action that were not previously dismissed by the Court.” (Doc. 107 at 4).

         On September 22, 2017, PIB replied. (Doc. 108 at 2). In that reply PIB freely admits the amended pleadings are in response to this Court's Memorandum Opinion and Order (Doc. 105). (Id.). PIB also stated that the amended pleadings are “intended to satisfy any pleading requirements so that PIB may proceed on all of its claims against Plaintiff Catlin Syndicate Limited (Counterclaim Defendant) and all Third Party Defendants.” (Id.) (emphasis added). ...


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