Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a) declares that leave to amend shall be freely given when justice so requires. If the underlying facts or circumstances relied upon by a plaintiff may be a proper subject of relief, he ought to be afforded an opportunity to test his claim on the merits. In the absence of any apparent or declared reason -- 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, futility of amendment, etc.--leave sought should, as the rules require, be freely given. Of course, the grant or denial of an opportunity to amend is within the discretion of the court.
Plaintiffs appealed an order of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of defendant in a product liability action. Plaintiff was injured while using a water slide, which led to he and his wife suing the defendant manufacturer, alleging that it manufactured the water slide involved in the accident. Defendant initially admitted the manufacture of the slide, but later, after inspecting the slide, declared otherwise and denied manufacture.
Where the manufacturer of the product, a water slide, admitted in its Answer and later in its Answer to Interrogatories both filed prior to the running of the statute of limitations that it designed, manufactured and sold the water slide in question, was it an abuse of the trial court’s discretion to grant leave to amend to the manufacturer in order to deny these admissions after running of the statute of limitations?
The court held that judicial economy was served by the trial court’s grant of a separate trial and that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in allowing defendant to amend its answer upon discovering that it had not manufactured the water slide in question.