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Lewis v. Jones

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, London

October 17, 2018

RANDALL LEWIS, Plaintiff,
v.
GERALD JONES, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER AND OPINION

          KAREN K. CALDWELL, CHIEF JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Randall Lewis' motion for leave to amend his complaint. [DE 22.] Magistrate Judge Hanly A. Ingram issued a Report and Recommendation [DE 33] to which objections were filed by Defendant Laurel Ridge Landfill, LLC. [DE 35.] For the following reasons, the Court will ADOPT IN PART and REJECT IN PART the recommended disposition.

         BACKGROUND

         A detailed background of this case is contained in the Magistrate's Report and Recommendation (“R&R”). [DE 33.] Here, the Court recounts only the facts necessary to determine the pending motion.

         This dispute concerns the sale of certain property in Laurel County, Kentucky. Plaintiff Randall Lewis alleges that he and Defendant, Gerald Jones, entered into multiple real estate purchase agreements for the sale of property within the county. [DE 1-2, at 2.] Rather than conveying the property to Lewis, however, Defendant Jones sold it to Laurel Ridge Landfill, LLC. [DE 1-2, at 2.] Claiming that he and Jones executed valid real estate contracts, Lewis filed an action in Laurel Circuit Court in June of 2016. This original complaint set forth a series of claims against Jones which included: (1) breach of contract; (2) specific performance; (3) unjust enrichment; (4) negligent misrepresentation; and (5) fraud.

         The Laurel Circuit Court later granted Lewis leave to amend his complaint. Pursuant to the Laurel Circuit Court's order, Lewis was permitted to add Laurel Ridge, Waste Connections, US, Inc. (“WCUS”), and Waste Connections of Kentucky, Inc. (“WCKY”) as Defendants to the action. Specifically, Lewis' first amended complaint asserted claims of unjust enrichment and tortious contractual interference against Laurel Ridge, WCUS, and WCKY under Kentucky law. [DE 1-2.]

         Lewis' cause of action was removed to this Court on February 16, 2017. [DE 1.] That same day, Defendants WCUS and WCKY jointly moved to dismiss all claims asserted against them pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). [DE 5.] Lewis did not object to the motion on the condition that the dismissal be “without prejudice to any claim that might later be revealed in discovery and asserted by way of future amendment. [DE 8.] On June 28, 2017, the Court dismissed the claims against WCUS and WCKY without prejudice. [DE 9.]

         Following several months of discovery, Lewis now requests leave to amend his complaint for the second time. In his proposed second amended complaint, Lewis seeks to: (1) add his wife, Tonya Lewis, as a plaintiff; (2) add claims of tortious interference and unjust enrichment against WCUS and WCKY; and (3) add the specific factual allegations needed to support these additional claims. [DE 22.]

         Lewis' proposed second amended complaint incorporates the original complaint in its entirety and adds a sequence of allegations. First, Lewis claims that he and Jones agreed that Lewis' wife, Tonya Lewis, would be the grantee of the anticipated deed related to the real estate purchase agreements. Next, the proposed amended complaint asserts that the Lewis and his wife jointly secured a loan to finance the purchase of the Laurel County property and expended funds for “various expenses” related to the property. [DE 22-2.]

         The proposed amended complaint also details the alleged involvement of Laurel Ridge, WCUS, and WCKY in the real estate transaction at issue. Although the parameters of the corporate structure remain somewhat unclear, Lewis claims that Laurel Ridge is managed by WCUS and that both are affiliated with WCKY. [DE 22-2.]

         Lewis states that employees working for either WCUS or WCKY (or both) were directly involved in the real estate transaction involving Jones and Laurel Ridge. Lewis specifically points to a series of emails between Jones and WCUS/WCKY employees indicating that the corporate entities were well aware of Jones' intent to sell the property to Lewis. For instance, in March of 2016, Jones emailed Nelson Breeden, an employee of WCUS/WCKY notifying him that Lewis was interested in buying the Laurel County property. [DE 22-2, at 4.] Breeden then, according to Lewis, relayed the information to other WCUS/WCKY employees. Moreover, in April of 2016, Jones allegedly emailed employees of WCUS and WCKY that an agreement had been reached between Lewis and himself to transfer the property. [DE 22-2, at 4.]

         Lewis also maintains that in May of 2016, he notified Breeden directly that he and Jones had reached an agreement for the purchase of the Laurel County property. And on the next day, Jones purportedly promised Breeden, via email, that he would obtain a written release from the agreement with Lewis. [DE 22-2, at 5.] Lewis notes that such a written release was never obtained from him and that on May 31, 2016, Jones went ahead and sold the property at issue to Laurel Ridge. [DE 22-2, at 5.]

         Following Lewis' motion for leave to file his second amended complaint, Defendant Laurel Ridge filed a response in opposition and Lewis' reply ensued. [DE 28; 30.] After an evaluation of the pending motions, Magistrate Judge Hanly Ingram issued a recommended disposition on July 16, 2018. [DE 33.] The Magistrate recommended that the Court: (1) grant Lewis' motion to the extent it seeks to include his wife, Tonya Lewis, as a plaintiff; (2) deny Lewis' motion as to the claim of tortious interference against WCUS and WCKY; and (3) grant Lewis' motion insofar as it seeks to add a claim of unjust enrichment against WCUS and WCKY.

         Defendant Laurel Ridge filed its objections to the Magistrate's recommended disposition on July 30, 2018. [DE 35.] Laurel Ridge specifically challenges the Magistrate's recommendation that Lewis be ...


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