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Bryntesen v. Camp Automotive, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Idaho

April 16, 2015

CASEY BRYNTESEN, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
CAMP AUTOMOTIVE, INC., et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

B. LYNN WINMILL, Chief District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

The Court has before it Plaintiffs' Motion for Leave to Amend their Complaint to Assert Claim for Punitive Damages Pursuant to Idaho Code § 6-1604 (Dkt. 80). The issue has been fully briefed and taken under advisement. For the reasons expressed below, the Court will deny the motion in part and grant the motion in part.

BACKGROUND

The underlying claims of this case stem from the detention of the Bryntesen family while driving a Camp BMW loaner vehicle that was incorrectly reported as stolen. Steve Wilson is the used car manager at Camp BMW, a Lithia Motors dealership. On June 17, 2013, Wilson noticed that a 2011 BMW 328 sedan was missing during a monthly inventory. After his discovery, Wilson searched the car lot, spoke with the available employees and a third-party repair center, and reviewed outstanding vehicle loan agreements. He also spoke with the service manager, Scott Grumbly, who assisted him in the search for the vehicle.

That same day, Wilson requested that BMW perform a GPS locate on the vehicle but was informed that he would need to first file a police report. Consequently, Wilson reported the car as stolen. The vehicle was not stolen, but had actually been loaned to the Bryntesens while their vehicle was being repaired. Matthew Rydman, a service department employee, loaned the vehicle to the Bryntesens a month earlier and misfiled the loaner agreement. Throughout Wilson's search, he never contacted Rydman, who was attending an event in California at the time.

A few days after Wilson reported the vehicle as stolen, police pulled over and detained the Bryntesens for possession of a stolen vehicle. Plaintiffs now seek to amend their Complaint to assert punitive damages claims against defendants Steve Wilson, Camp Automotive (dba Camp BMW), and Lithia. Plaintiffs also seek to amend their Complaint to state with more particularity the basis for negligence liability of defendant Lithia.

ANALYSIS

1. Plaintiffs' Motion to Amend to State Basis for Negligent Liability of Lithia

Plaintiffs seek to amend their Complaint to state with more particularity the basis for negligence liability of defendant Lithia. Pl.'s Motion at 1-2, Dkt. 80. The Court will freely grant a party leave to file an amended pleading "when justice so requires." FED. R. CIV. P. 15(a)(2). In its response brief, Lithia has not opposed Plaintiffs' amendments "regarding Lithia's relationship to the other Defendants." Def.'s Reply at 13, Dkt. 95. On the other hand, BMW of North America opposes such an amendment because the amended complaint "re-allege[s] false facts that they know are untrue and unsupported by any evidence. Def. BMW's Reply, at 3, Dkt. 94. However, the claims against BMW of North America remain unchanged in the proposed amended complaint. BMW of North America's objection to those claims may be taken up on a motion for summary judgment. Accordingly, the Court will grant this portion of Plaintiffs' motion.

2. Plaintiffs' Motion to Amend to Assert Punitive Damages

Plaintiffs also seek to amend their complaint to assert punitive damages. Plaintiffs' punitive damages claim is governed by Idaho Code § 6-1604, which provides:

In any action seeking recovery of punitive damages, the claimant must prove, by clear and convincing evidence, oppressive, fraudulent, malicious or outrageous conduct by the party against ...

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