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Lachcik v. Maricopa County Board of Commissioners

United States District Court, D. Arizona

August 15, 2016

Shelly M Lachcik, et al., Plaintiffs,
Maricopa County Board of Commissioners, et al., Defendants.


          David G. Campbell United States District Judge

         Plaintiffs have filed a pro se motion to amend their second amended complaint. Doc. 39. The motion has been fully briefed (Docs. 43, 45), and Plaintiffs have filed a supplement to their original motion (Doc. 44) and lodged the proposed amendment (Doc. 40). No party requests oral argument. The Court will grant the motion.

         I. Background.

         Until last year, Plaintiff Shelly Lachcik and her mother, Plaintiff Katherine Fox, lived together in federally-subsidized housing. On July 4, 2015, the Housing Authority of Maricopa County (“HAMC”) terminated Lachcik’s housing assistance based on its finding that she failed to report a change in her household income arising from Fox’s self-employment. Doc. 40 at 35-37. Plaintiffs filed their original complaint on November 16, 2015. Doc. 1.

         On December 1, 2015, Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint, naming as defendants the Maricopa County Board of Commissioners, HAMC, and HAMC’s Executive Director, Gloria Munoz, in her official capacity. Doc. 10. The amended complaint asserted claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 based on alleged violations of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, section 8 of the Housing Act of 1937 (42 U.S.C. § 1437f), the informal hearing provision of the section 8 regulations (24 C.F.R. § 982.555), and the Fair Housing Act (42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)). Id. at 7-8. Plaintiffs sought declaratory, injunctive, and damages relief, including reinstatement of her housing assistance. Id. Defendants subsequently filed their answer. Doc. 18. With leave of court, Plaintiffs amended their amended complaint to substitute the “Maricopa County Board of Supervisors” for the “Maricopa County Board of Commissioners.” Doc. 34.

         On July 11, 2016, Plaintiffs filed a motion to amend their second amended complaint. The proposed amendment seeks to add four defendants: Jenese Bojorquez, Marifel Saldana, Keith Quinn, and the unknown hearing officer (collectively, the “HAMC Employees”). Doc. 40 at 1. The HAMC Employees are each named in both their individual and official capacities. Id. The proposed amendment has little overlap with the second amended complaint. It includes several pages of new exhibits, cites new legal authority, and alleges violations of several regulations not discussed in the prior complaint. Compare Doc. 35 with Doc. 40. The demand for relief, however, is largely unchanged: the proposed third amended complaint seeks a declaratory judgment stating that Defendants’ conduct violated the Due Process Clause, preliminary and permanent injunctive relief reinstating Plaintiff Lachcik’s subsidy, and compensatory damages. Docs. 35 at 7-8; 40 at 14.

         II. Legal Standard.

         Because the deadline for amending as a matter of course has passed, Plaintiffs may amend “only with the opposing party’s written consent or the court’s leave.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). Leave to amend is given freely “when justice so requires.” Id. “Rule 15’s policy of favoring amendments to pleadings should be applied with extreme liberality.” DCD Programs, Ltd. v. Leighton, 833 F.2d 183, 186 (9th Cir. 1987) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted; alterations incorporated). A motion for leave to amend may be denied, however, if the court finds “undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on the part of the movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing party by virtue of allowance of the amendment, [or] futility of amendment.” Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962).

         Pursuant to this Court’s Local Rules of Civil Procedure, “[a] party who moves for leave to amend a pleading must attach a copy of the proposed amended pleading as an exhibit to the motion, which must indicate in what respect it differs from the pleading which it amends, by bracketing or striking through the text to be deleted and underlining the text to be added.” LRCiv 15.1(a). This rule carries “‘the force of law.’” Eldridge v. Schroeder, No. CV-14-01325-PHX-DGC-ESW, 2016 WL 354868, at *2 (D. Ariz. Jan. 28, 2016) (quoting Hollingsworth v. Perry, 558 U.S. 183, 191 (2010)). Courts in this district “routinely den[y] motions for leave to amend for failure to comply with LRCiv 15.1(a), ” id. (collecting cases), and it is well within their discretion to do so. See, e.g., Young v. Nooth, 539 F. App’x 710, 711 (9th Cir. 2013) (“The district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Young leave to amend his complaint because Young failed to attach a proposed amended complaint as required by local rule.”).

         III. Analysis.

         Defendants contend that Plaintiffs’ motion should be denied because (1) Plaintiffs failed to comply with LRCiv 15.1(a), (2) Plaintiffs have unduly delayed this motion, (3) the proposed amendment would be prejudicial to Defendants, and (4) the proposed amendments would be futile. Doc. 43.

         A. LRCiv 15.1(a).

         As Defendants pointed out in their opposition, Plaintiffs’ motion for leave to amend did not comply with LRCiv 15.1(a). Within one week of being apprised of this defect, Plaintiffs filed a version of the second amended complaint that satisfied LRCiv 15.1(a). Docs. 46, 48. Because Plaintiffs acted quickly in responding to the procedural defect in their original motion, and because it does not appear that Defendants were prejudiced by Plaintiffs’ initial noncompliance with LRCiv 15.1(a), the Court will not dismiss Plaintiffs’ motion based on this initial noncompliance. The Court reminds Plaintiffs, however, that compliance with the Local Rules of Civil Procedure is mandatory, even for pro se litigants, and that failure to comply with these rules in the future may result in denial of motions of dismissal of their case.

         B. ...

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