Late Motion to Amend Answer Should Have Been Granted, No Prejudice
The Second Department determined Supreme Court should have granted plaintiff’s motion to amend the answer by adding an affirmative defense. The court noted that, absent prejudice, mere lateness is not a sufficient ground for denial of the motion:
Permission to amend a pleading should be “freely given” (CPLR 3025[b]…). Leave to amend an answer to assert an affirmative defense should generally be granted where the proposed amendment is neither palpably insufficient nor patently devoid of merit, and there is no evidence that it would prejudice or surprise the opposing party … . Here, the defendant sufficiently alleged that the driver of his vehicle did not have his permission or consent to operate his vehicle at the time of the subject accident … . The proposed affirmative defense set forth allegations based on factual matters that are not palpably insufficient or patently devoid of merit … .
Furthermore, mere lateness is not a basis for denying an amendment unless the lateness is coupled with ” significant prejudice to the other side'” … . Although the defendant waited over 1 ½ years before moving for leave to amend the answer, there was no showing that the plaintiff would be significantly prejudiced, as discovery was ongoing … . Jeboda v Danza, 2015 NY Slip Op 07951, 2nd Dept 11-4-15