Pleading: Amendments

Murphy v. Montana State Fund [12/23/10] 2010 MTWCC 39 This Court follows M.R.Civ.P. 15(a) in determining whether to permit parties to amend pleadings.  Petitioner objected to Respondent’s motion to amend its response to add a contention that Petitioner failed to meet the time requirements of § 39-71-603, MCA, on the grounds that Respondent cannot prevail on this defense.  The likelihood of success of defending a claim on particular grounds is not a basis for precluding an amendment otherwise permissible under M.R.Civ.P. 15(a), and Petitioner’s argument as to the merits of Respondent’s defense is premature.
Flynn and Miller v. Montana State Fund [07/14/10] 2010 MTWCC 26 Leave to amend a petition shall be freely given when justice so requires and denied when the proposed amendments, on their merits, would be futile.  Petitioners filed a motion to amend their petition to include attorney fees and a penalty in accordance with the deadlines set by the Court.  Common Fund insurers argued that Petitioners’ motion should be denied because the insurers believed Petitioners would ultimately be unsuccessful in their plea for attorney fees and a penalty.  The Court held that insurers’ arguments were premature and offered no basis for denying the requested amendment.
Montana State Fund v. Uninsured Employers' Fund and Folda [05/11/10] 2010 MTWCC 10 Leave to amend pleadings shall be freely given when justice so requires.  However, leave to amend is properly denied when the proposed amendments would, on their merits, be futile.  Therefore, the Court denied a party’s request to amend its pleading to add a plea for attorney fees in a case where the party is ineligible for attorney fees under the Workers’ Compensation Act.
Keller v. Liberty Northwest, Inc. [08/12/09] 2009 MTWCC 25 Respondent’s motion to amend its response was granted where Respondent sought to amend its response the day after it timely filed its response, and the affirmative defense Respondent sought to add is not indisputably futile.
Hagemann v. Montana Contractor Compensation Fund [07/10/08] 2008 MTWCC 35 Petitioner was granted leave to amend his petition, and an Order Rescheduling Scheduling Order was issued which stated in bold type that he must file his petition by February 11, 2008. Petitioner attempted to file his amended petition on March 27, 2008, and it was refused by the Court as untimely. Petitioner asked this Court to reconsider the decision, asserting that he had no “super excuse” for the tardiness and that his staff failed to properly calendar the deadline. Having failed to take advantage of the leave that was given by the Court to file an amended petition, Petitioner offers no compelling reason why the Court should revisit the issue yet again.
Wood v. Montana State Fund [12/06/07] 2007 MTWCC 53 Leave to amend petition granted where Petitioners sought to allege specific contentions in support of their allegations that they are entitled to attorney fees and a penalty, where Petitioners had prayed for attorney fees and a penalty in their initial petition and they learned additional facts which go to Respondent’s alleged unreasonableness in adjusting the claim during the post-petition deposition of Respondent’s claims adjuster.

Shell v. Valor Ins. Co. [03/24/06] 2006 MTWCC 12 Rule 15(a), Mont. R. Civ. P., provides that a party may amend its pleading once as a matter of course at any time before a responsive pleading is served and otherwise by leave of court, said leave to be freely given when justice so requires. A document captioned as a “Response to Motion” which fails to substantively address the motion within the body of the brief is insufficient to constitute substantive opposition to that motion, and thus as provided for in Rule 24.5.316 ARM, the failure of an adverse party to timely file an answer brief may be deemed an admission that the motion is well taken.

Rogers v. Montana State Fund [12/21/05] 2005 MTWCC 58 Leave to amend a petition will be freely given when justice so requires. Where a petition fails to set forth facts in sufficient detail for the Court to determine whether good cause exists to set a matter for emergency trial, Petitioner may amend the petition to set forth facts in sufficient detail for the Court to make such a determination.
Lanz v. Liberty Northwest Ins. Corp. [08/03/05] 2005 MTWCC 44 An amended petition adding a new party does not relate back to the original petition for statute of limitations purposes where there is no showing that the new party was, within the limitations period, aware of the filing of the petition and knew, or should have known, that the petitioner had made a mistake concerning its identity, or where the petition failed to name fictitious respondents whose true identities were unknown. Rule 15(c), Mont. R. Civ. P. and § 25-5-103, MCA (1999).
Mathews v. Liberty NW [7/8/04] 2004 MTWCC 55 A motion to amend a petition is untimely where a final decision and judgment on the original petition have already been entered.

Higgins v. Liberty NW [3/23/04] 2004 MTWCC 31 Leave to amend a petition ". . . shall be freely given when justice so requires." Rule 15(a), Mont.R.Civ.P. Where a petition requests the Court to set aside a settlement based on mutual mistake of fact but facts are ascertained during discovery which claimant believes support a reopening based on constructive fraud, leave to file an amended petition will be granted even though the constructive fraud theory was identified and proffered shortly before the pretrial conference.