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Jones v. Forbes

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

December 9, 2013

Theodore Jacob Jones, Plaintiff,
CO II Forbes, et al., Defendants.


LAWRENCE O. ANDERSON, Magistrate Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint. (Doc. 86) Defendants have filed a Response and Plaintiff has filed a Reply. (Docs. 91, 93) Also before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Relief From October 25, 2013 Order Regarding Disclosure of Mental Health Records. (Doc. 92) Plaintiff has not filed a response and the time to do so has passed. See Local Rules of Civil Procedure ("LRCiv") 7.2(c) (providing that a response must be filed within fourteen days after service of the motion).

I. Background

Plaintiff initiated this action by filing a Civil Rights Complaint by a Prisoner on March 1, 2012. (Doc. 1) In an order issued on April 20, 2013, the assigned District Judge dismissed the Complaint, but granted Plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint. (Doc. 7) Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint on May 3, 2012. (Doc. 9) In the subsequent screening order, the District Judge determined the First Amended Complaint states an Eighth Amendment claim for excessive force against Defendants Forbes and Sanchez. (Doc. 11 at 3-4) Plaintiff alleges Corrections Officers Forbes and Sanchez used excessive force against him when they entered his cell on July 15, 2011. Plaintiff claims they punched him in the face and body several times, used handcuffs "like brass knuckles" to strike him, kicked him in the face and body, and knocked him unconscious. (Doc. 9 at 3-5) Defendants have filed an Answer. (Docs. 29, 53)

The Court issued a Scheduling and Discovery Order on April 1, 2013. (Doc. 52) Among other deadlines, motions to amend pleadings or join other parties were to be filed by July 29, 2013.

II. Motion to Amend

In the instant motion to amend, filed on October 24, 2013, Plaintiff seeks leave to add two new defendants in place of the two currently named defendants. Specifically, he seeks to add CO II Benjamin Beckford in place of Defendant CO II Forbes, and CO II Aurelio Sanchez-Cepeda in place of Defendant A. Sanchez. It appears from the proposed Second Amended Complaint attached to the Motion to Amend that there are no other changes.[1]

Plaintiff argues his motion should be granted because he has been trying to discover the proper identities of the officers who assaulted him, and after the Court granted his motion to compel discovery, he was able to do so. Plaintiff states that when Defendants provided him with the Court-ordered discovery documents in September 2013, he learned the officers' true identities.

Defendants argue in the Response that because Plaintiff's motion to amend was filed after the deadline in the scheduling order, Plaintiff must demonstrate good cause for the untimely motion. They contend he cannot show good cause here because Plaintiff knew or should have known the identities of the new defendants before the July 29, 2013 deadline, but waited until after the deadline to file the motion to amend. Defendants argue Plaintiff is not being candid with the Court when he claims he learned the officers' identities after Defendants complied with the Court's order on the motion to compel. Defendants further request that they be dismissed from this action if the Court grants the motion to amend.

Plaintiff argues in the Reply that he has shown good cause for his untimely motion to amend. Plaintiff contends he had to wait until he received the Court-ordered discovery from Defendants before he could seek leave to amend. Plaintiff states he filed suit against the two individuals he initially believed assaulted him based on the name he saw on the vest of one of the officers and the name inside the cap of the second officer. Plaintiff states he was subsequently told several other names, but it was not until he received the compelled discovery that he definitively learned their names.

A. Legal Standards

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a), which typically governs the amendment of civil complaints, provides that "leave [to amend a pleading] shall be freely given when justice so requires." "In deciding whether justice requires granting leave to amend, factors to be considered include the presence or absence of undue delay, bad faith, dilatory motive, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by previous amendments, undue prejudice to the opposing party and futility of the proposed amendment." Moore v. Kayport Package Express, Inc., 885 F.2d 531, 538 (9th Cir. 1989) (citing Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962)). A district court need not prolong litigation by permitting further amendment where such amendment would be futile. Lipton v. Pathogenesis Corp., 284 F.3d 1027, 1039 (9th Cir. 2002). Granting or denying a motion to amend is a matter within the district court's discretion. See, e.g., Ventress v. Japan Airlines, 603 F.3d 676, 680 (9th Cir. 2010); Chappel v. Laboratory Corp. of Amer., 232 F.3d 719, 725 (9th Cir. 2000).

When, however, a party seeks leave to amend a complaint after a pretrial scheduling order has been entered pursuant to Rule 16(b)(1), Fed.R.Civ.P., and after the designated deadline for amending pleadings has passed, the party must first make a showing of "good cause" under Rule 16(b)(4).[2] Johnson v. Mammoth Recreation, Inc., 975 F.2d 604, 608 (9th Cir. 1992) ("A party seeking to amend a pleading after the date specified in the scheduling order must first show good cause for amendment under Rule 16, then if good cause be shown, the party must demonstrate that amendment was proper under Rule 15.") (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). When seeking leave to amend after the deadline imposed by the scheduling order, a party cannot "appeal to the liberal amendment procedures afforded by Rule 15; his tardy motion [has] to satisfy the more stringent good cause' showing required under Rule 16." AmerisourceBergen Corp. v. Dialysist West, Inc., 465 F.3d 965, 952 (9th Cir. 2006) (emphasis in original). "Unlike Rule 15(a)'s liberal amendment policy which focuses on the bad faith of the party seeking to impose an amendment and the prejudice to the opposing party, Rule 16(b)'s good cause' standard primarily considers the diligence of the party seeking the amendment." Johnson, 975 F.2d at 609.

For purposes of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16(b)(4), "good cause" means the scheduling deadlines cannot be met despite the party's diligence. Id. (citing 6A Wright, Miller & Kane, Federal Practice and Procedure ยง 1522.1 at 231 (2d ed. 1990)). "The pretrial schedule may be modified if it cannot reasonably be met despite the diligence of the party seeking the extension. If the party seeking the modification was not diligent, the inquiry should end and the motion to modify should not be granted." ...

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