Federal judge rules Pa. company can amend its complaint against NY manufacturer

By Jon Campisi | Dec 7, 2011

A Pennsylvania company that specializes in the business of cylinder re-qualification and maintenance can move forward with seeking increased damages against a New York-based products manufacturer, after a federal judge last week granted the plaintiff’s motion to file an amended complaint.

Norristown, Pa.-based Mawa, Inc., doing business as Erjo Services Division, had filed a lawsuit against Westbury, N.Y.-based Utility Manufacturing Co., also known as Jem Lawe Co., on March 31, 2011, seeking damages in the amount of $144,968.90, plus interest and costs.

Mawa, which specializes in cleaning cylinders such as those used as oxygen tanks, claimed that an application called “Seal Rite #5” that it had purchased from the defendant, which was supposed to provide a leak-proof connection between cylinders and their valves, was defective.

The plaintiff alleged in its complaint that it had been contacted by one of its customers who stated that a shipment of 750 medical oxygen cylinders were contaminated and unusable.

Mawa had claimed that what it had received from Utility Manufacturing was not Seal Rite #5, but rather was a substance used in the electrical industry.

Following the incident, Mawa claimed it had to devise its own cleaning method for the cylinders.

In its lawsuit against Utility Manufacturing, Mawa alleged breach of contract, breach of express and implied warranties and negligent misrepresentation.

After consulting with a business evaluation expert, Mawa concluded that the damages it originally assessed in its complaint was incorrect, and it filed a motion seeking to amend its complaint.

The defendant opposed the motion, claiming that the amended complaint would constitute a new cause of action.

On Dec. 2, Senior U.S. District Judge Robert F. Kelly agreed with the plaintiff and granted Mawa’s motion to file an amended complaint.

“Plaintiff’s amendment seeks to increase the amount of damages sought, and there does not appear to be any undue prejudice, undue delay, bad faith or futility which may result from amending the complaint,” Kelly wrote in his ruling.

The judge had written that such a motion should only be denied in circumstances in which a “plaintiff’s delay in seeking amendment is undue, made in bad faith, prejudicial to the opposing party, or [the amendment] fails to cure the jurisdictional defect.

“Although Defendant filed a brief in opposition to Plaintiff’s Motion to Amend, Defendant does not make any express argument asserting that there is a delay in Plaintiff’s seeking amendment that is undue, made in bad faith or prejudicial to it,” the judge wrote.

Mawa’s original complaint was filed by Plymouth Meeting, Pa. attorney Richard C. Senker at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

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