RDL, INC.CIDA, INC., dba PACIFIC DESIGN BUILD COLLABORATIVE, v.AMERICAN SAMOA COMMUNITY COLLEGE

 

RDL, INC./CIDA, INC., dba PACIFIC DESIGN
BUILD COLLABORATIVE, Plaintiffs
v.
AMERICAN SAMOA COMMUNITY COLLEGE, Defendant
High Court of American Samoa
Trial Division
CA No. 113-01
October 31, 2002

 

[1] Where opposing party has already answered pleading, leave of the
court is necessary to amend it.
[2] Whether to grant a motion to amend the pleadings lies within the
court’s sound discretion.
[3] The Rules of Civil Procedure require the court to freely grant
amendments when justice so requires. However, leave to amend will be
denied when factors such as undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on
the part of the movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by
amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing party
by virtue of allowance of the amendment, or futility of amendment are
present.
[4] When a motion to amend concerns the addition of a party, the
movant bears the burden of demonstrating whether the third party they
seek to join satisfies the requirements of being a necessary joinder or a
permissive joinder under the rules.
[5] A necessary party is defined as a person whom in whose absence,
and among the already existing parties, complete relief cannot be
accorded.
[6] Joint and several liability does not make a party “indispensable” for
purposes of Rule 19 of the Rules of Civil Procedure.
[7] Multiple parties may, but need not be, joined if claims against them
(1) arise out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions
or occurrences and (2) will present some question of law or fact in
common.
Before KRUSE, Chief Justice, LOGOAI, Chief Associate Judge, and
ATIULAGI, Associate Judge.
267
Counsel: For Plaintiffs, Charles V. Ala`ilima
For Defendant, Paul F. Miller
ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO AMEND
COUNTER-CLAIM TO ADD A PARTY

[1] The defendant, American Samoa Community College (“ASCC”),
moves to amend its pleadings to add another party, JCW, Inc., to its
counterclaim. Because plaintiffs, RDL, Inc./CIDA, Inc., d.b.a. Pacific
Design Build Collaborative (“PDBC”), have filed a responsive pleading
and answered ASCC’s counterclaim, leave of the court is therefore
required to add a new party. T.C.R.C.P. Rule 15(a); 3 JAMES WM.
MOORE ET AL., MOORE’S FEDERAL PRACTICE, § 15.16(1) (3d ed. 1999).
Rule 15(a) applies equally to plaintiffs and defendants. Id.
[2-3] Whether to grant a motion to amend the pleadings lies within the
court’s sound discretion. Ape v. Am. Samoa Gov’t, 25 A.S.R.2d 106,
108 (Trial Div. 1993). In the exercise of its discretion, T.C.R.C.P. Rule
15(a) requires the court to grant amendments “freely when justice so
requires.” Leave to amend will, however, be denied upon the finding of
“such factors as undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on the part of
the movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments
previously allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing party by virtue of
allowance of the amendment, and futility of amendment.” Vera v. Bush,
980 F. Supp. 255, 256 (S.D. Tex. 1997).
[4-6] Moreover, when a motion to amend concerns the addition of a
party, the movant bears the burden of demonstrating whether the third
party they seek to join satisfies the requirements of either T.C.R.C.P.
19(a) (necessary joinder) or T.C.R.C.P. 20 (permissive joinder). See
Inman v. Comm’r, 871 F.Supp. 1275, 1276 (E.D. Cal. 1994); 4 JAMES
WM. MOORE ET AL., MOORE’S FEDERAL PRACTICE, § 20.02(2)(a)(ii) (3d
ed. 1999). ASCC argues that JCW, Inc. is a necessary party to the
litigation. It is unclear, however, whether JCW, Inc. actually is.
T.C.R.C.P. 19(a) defines a necessary party as a person whom “in his
absence complete relief cannot be accorded among those already
parties.” Here, ASCC has not shown why failing to join JCW, Inc.
would frustrate recovery of complete relief, in the form of money
damages, they seek from PDBC. See Perrian v. O’Grady, 958 F.2d 192,
196 (7th Cir. 1992) (distinguishing between being a necessary party and
an indispensable party). That they have claims against JCW, Inc. in the
form of joint and several liability is of no avail. See Shon v. Mollerup
Moving & Storage Co., 24 A.S.R.2d 50, 52 n.4 (Trial Div. 1993) (joint
and several liability does not make a party “indispensable” for purposes
268
of T.C.R.C.P. 19).
[7] Nonetheless, at the very least, we see no reason why JCW, Inc.
cannot be made a party under T.C.R.C.P. 20. Multiple parties may, but
need not be, joined if claims against them “(1) ‘aris[e] out of the same
transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences’ and (2)
will present some ‘question of law or fact [in] common.’” 4 JAMES WM.
MOORE ET AL., MOORE’S FEDERAL PRACTICE, § 20.02(1)(a)(3d ed. 1999)
(citing Fed. R. Civ. P. 20(a)). Both of these prongs are satisfied here.
ASCC’s claims against JCW, Inc. arise out of the same transaction,
namely the construction of the library. And they present issues of
common fact and law: whether JCW, Inc., as a partner, is liable for
damages arising out of an alleged breach of contract. See Acme Elec.
Corp. v. Sigma Instrument, Inc., 121 F.R.D. 26, 28 (S.D.N.Y. 1988).
Furthermore, PDBC has presented no substantial reason why they would
be prejudiced by the inclusion of JCW, Inc. In this respect, we do not
attribute any bad faith motives or tactics on ASCC’s part in moving to
amend the pleadings nor have they unnecessarily delayed in making the
motion. Finally, ASCC has not presented any different factual
allegations which may have complicated PDBC’s defense. See Ryan,
Inc. v. Vaka, 5 A.S.R.2d 31, 32 n.1 (Trial Div. 1987).
Therefore, in the interest of justice, judicial economy, and finality, we
exercise our discretion in favor of ASCC’s motion to amend the
pleadings to include JCW, Inc. The motion is granted. It is so ordered.