U.S. District Judge Samuel Conti on Monday granted Kaiser leave to amend its answer in an ERISA lawsuit brought by retired cardiothoracic surgeon Thomas Gonda. Dr. Gonda was seeking benefits and damages following termination of his long-term disability benefits. The parties had previously entered into a settlement agreement that Kaiser used as a basis for seeking summary judgment in the present case. Judge Conti previously ruled that Kaiser must amend its complaint if it sought to use the settlement agreement as an affirmative defense. As Courthouse News Service notes:
Conti granted Kaiser leave to amend its answer on Monday.
“The court finds that defendants unduly delayed in raising the affirmative defense of the settlement agreement,” Conti wrote in the 9-page order. “However, there is no evidence of bad faith or futility. Most importantly, the court finds that there will be no undue prejudice to Dr. Gonda.”
The Judge noted that although it took the defendant as long as three years to amend its complaint, there was no bad faith nor undue prejudice to the plaintiff, therefore granting the defendant leave to amend its answer is appropriate.