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Beeck v. Aquaslide N” Dive Corp Case Brief

Summary of Beeck v. Aquaslide N” Dive Corp
562 F 2d 537  [1977]

Pleading- Prejudice; Responding to the Complaint (Prejudice)

Relevant Facts: Pl, Beeck, was severely injured while using a water slide at a social gathering.  Df Aquaslide initially admitted that it designed and manufactured the slide in question after its insurance investigation determined the same.  6 mos after the S/L expired Df’s president made an on site inspection and determined that the slide was not one of theirs.  Df moved to amend its answer to deny manufacturing the slide.

Legal Issue(s): Whether the trial ct abused its discretion granting leave to the Df to amend and deny after the Df which admitted in its answer and answers to interrogatories that it designed, manufactured and sold the slide ?  Whether the tr ct abused its discretion after it granted leave to amend and deny prior admission in granting separate trial on the issue of manufacturing?

Court’s Holding: 1- No, not an abuse to allow amendment; 2- No, not an abuse to sever trial

Procedure: D. Ct S Dst Iowa granted motion to amend answer(Df), and motion for separate trial.  Jury verdict for Df, tr ct granted Summary dismissal to Df; Pl appealed.  8th C Ct of App Affirmed

Law or Rule(s): FRCP 15 (a) once issue is joined in a lawsuit, a party may amend his pleading, ‘only by leave of court or by written consent of the adverse party; and leave shall be freely given when justice so requires.”

Court Rationale: Leave to amend should be granted if the underlying facts/circumstances relied upon by a Pl may be a proper subject of relief, he ought to be afforded an opportunity to test his claim on the merits.  The grant or denial of an opportunity to amend is w/i the discretion of the D Ct. The burden is on the party opposing the amendment to show prejudice, but in ruling for leave the tr ct must inquire into the issue of prejudice.  Bad faith must be share equally by all parties.  It would be prejudicial to the Df to deny the amendment, and the amendment would allow the Df to contest a disputed factual issue at trial.

Pl elected to stand on its contention that the slide was in fact an Aquaslide after the president of the company determined it was not.  Pl was seeking a substantial sum of money for damages. Evidence of pl’s injuries would have taken up several days of trial time, and b/c of the severity of those injuries, may have been prejudicial to the Df’s claim of non-manufacture.  Judicial economy, beneficial to all the parties, was obviously served by the trial ct’s grant of separate trial.

Plaintiff’s Argument: The trial ct abused its discretion by granting leave when the Dfs acted in bad faith, by waiting until the S/L had run before filing prejudiced the Pl.

Defendant’s Argument: Upon discovery that the three different insurance investigations were in error regarding the manufacture of the slide Df Motioned for leave to amend which is required Rule 11, therefore it was not done in bad faith.



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