United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division
AUTO-OWNERS INSURANCE, ANGELA BURTON, and JENNIFER HELTON PLAINTIFFS
PAUL ASPAS, LANDSTAR INWAY, INC., and VALLEY TIRE COMPANY DEFENDANTS
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Whalin, Magistrate Judge
motions are currently before the Court. First, Plaintiff
Auto-Owners Insurance Company seeks leave to file its First
Amended Complaint, to correct its name and add defendants.
(DN 58). Defendants did not respond. Second, Plaintiffs
Angela Burton and Jennifer Helton seek leave to file their
Second Amended Complaint, to add claims of gross negligence
in hiring and supervision and punitive damages. (DN 60).
Defendants responded in opposition. (DN 68). These matters
are ripe for adjudication.
January of 2014, Plaintiffs Angela Burton
(“Burton”) and Jennifer Helton
(“Helton”) were traveling in a vehicle on I-65
South when the tires from Defendant Paul Aspas'
(“Aspas”) semi-tractor truck came off his trailer
and struck Burton's vehicle. (DN 1-2, Complaint at
¶¶ 7-9; Answer at ¶ 9). Two years later,
Plaintiffs Burton and Helton filed a Complaint in Hardin
County Circuit Court alleging claims of negligence against
Aspas and his employer, Landstar Inway, Inc.
(“Landstar”). (Id. Complaint at ¶
5). Plaintiff Auto-Owners Insurance Company
(“Auto-Owners Insurance”) also filed a Complaint
against Aspas pertaining to the same motor-vehicle accident.
(DN 1-2, Complaint at ¶¶ 5-6; Motion to Transfer at
¶ 2). The Hardin County Circuit Court consolidated the
Plaintiffs' cases. (DN 1-2, Agreed Order to Consolidate).
Aspas and Landstar timely removed the action to this Court
under diversity jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1332, on March
29, 2016. (DN 1). In August of 2016, Burton and Helton were
granted leave to file their First Amended Complaint to add
Valley Tire Company (“Valley Tire”) as a
defendant. (DN 18; DN 19). Valley Tire replaced and installed
the tires on Aspas' tractor-trailer on the day before the
accident. (DN 19, at ¶ 15). Now, Plaintiff Auto-Owners
Insurance seeks leave to file their first amended complaint
(DN 58), and Plaintiffs Burton and Helton seek leave to file
their second amended complaint (DN 60).
15(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides
that leave to amend a pleading should be “freely given
when justice so requires.” Birchwood Conservancy v.
Webb, 302 F.R.D. 422, 424 (E.D. Ky. 2013) (Fed.R.Civ.P.
15(a)(2)). A district court has “considerable
discretion” in deciding whether to grant a motion to
amend. See Leisure Caviar, LLC v. U.S. Fish &
Wildlife Serv., 616 F.3d 612, 615 (6th Cir. 2010)
(citing Morse v. McWhorter, 290 F.3d 795, 799 (6th
Cir. 2002)). In light of this liberal view, a motion to amend
a pleading, “should be denied if the amendment is
brought in bad faith, for dilatory purposes, results in undue
delay or prejudice to the opposing party, or would be
futile.” Colvin v. Caruso, 605 F.3d 282, 294
(6th Cir. 2010) (citing Crawford v. Roane, 53 F.3d
750, 753 (6th Cir. 1995)).
proposed amendment to a pleading is futile if the amendment
“could not withstand a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to
dismiss.” Rose v. Hartford Underwriters Ins.
Co., 203 F.3d 417, 410 (6th Cir. 2000). In order to
survive a motion to dismiss, the pleading “must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true to ‘state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677 (2009) (quoting
Bel Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007)). “A claim has facial plausibility when the
plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.” Id. Further, a
district court must “(1) view the complaint in the
light most favorable to the plaintiff and (2) take all well
pleaded factual allegations as true.” Tackett v. M
& G Polymers, USA, LLC, 561 F.3d 478, 488 (6th Cir.
2009) (citing Gunasekera v. Irwin, 551 F.3d 461, 466
(6th Cir. 2009)).
Insurance's First Motion to Amend
Insurance specifically wants to correct its party-name to
“Owners Insurance Company” and wants to add
Valley Tire, Landstar, and Old Republic Insurance Co.
(“Old Republic”) as defendants to its existing
claims. (DN 58). As noted above, Valley Tire and Landstar are
already named as Defendants in this action. Old Republic,
however, is not currently a named defendant in this case.
Auto-Owners Insurance's First Motion to Amend was timely
filed on February 1, 2017, in accordance with the
parties' Amended Scheduling Order for filing
“motions to amend pleadings and/or join
parties[.]” (DN 31). Because Defendants did not respond
and did not show that amendment would be prejudicial, the
Court finds the ends of justice favor granting Auto-Owners
and Helton's Second Motion to Amend
and Helton currently seek leave to add claims of gross
negligence against Valley Tire. (DN 60-1, at ¶¶
20-22). To summarize, Burton and Helton allege that Valley
Tire was grossly negligent in the hiring, staffing, training,
and supervision of its employees, servants, and agents, and
consequently they are entitled to punitive damages.
(Id.). Valley Tire's response separates these
proposed allegations into three claims: negligent hiring,
negligent supervision, and punitive damages, and argues
amendment would be futile. (DN 68, at pp. 2-4).
establish a claim of negligent hiring under Kentucky law a
plaintiff must meet two elements: “(1) the employer
knew or reasonably should have known that the employee was
unfit for the job for which he was employed, and (2) the
employee's placement or retention at that job created an
unreasonable risk of harm to the plaintiff.”
Stalbosky v. Belew, 205 F.3d 890, 894 (6th Cir.
2000) (citing Oakley v. Flor-Shin, Inc., 964 S.W.2d
438, 442 (Ky. Ct. App. 1998)). Whereas, a negligent
supervision claim requires a plaintiff prove the employer was
“negligent or reckless . . . in the employment of
improper persons or instrumentalities in work involving risk
of harm to others: in the supervision of the activity . .
.” Dempsey v. City of Lawrenceburg, 2010 WL
3825 473, at *7 (E.D. Ky. Sept. 23, 2010) (quoting
Restatement (Second) of Agency § 213)); see also
Smith v. Isaacs, 777 S.W.2d 912 (Ky. 1989).
Burton and Helton have made no factual allegations in their
proposed amended complaint to establish the elements of
either a negligent hiring or negligent supervision claim.
Although their “motion” refers to the
tire-tech's deposition testimony that he was a brand new
hire and “had a history of driving under the
influence” (DN 60, at p. 2), their “proposed
amended complaint” does not include these factual
allegations. Likewise, their motion discusses that the
tire-tech had not been properly trained, that he should not
have been alone servicing the tires of the trailer involved
in the accident, and that he was not aware of the safety
standards required for the maintenance (DN 60, at pp. 2-3),
but these factual allegations are not included in the
proposed amended complaint. Instead, their proposed amended
complaint rests solely on bare assertions that Valley Tire
was negligent in hiring and supervising its agents, servants,
and employees. Because these allegations are ...