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Leibel v. City of Buckeye

United States District Court, D. Arizona

September 27, 2019

Kevin Leibel, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
City of Buckeye, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          Dominic W. Lanza, United States District Judge

         Pending before the Court is C.L.’s[1] motion for leave to file a first amended complaint (“FAC”). (Doc. 77.) For the following reasons, the Court grants C.L.’s motion.

         BACKGROUND

         On June 6, 2018, C.L.-a 14-year-old autistic boy-filed a complaint against the City of Buckeye, the Buckeye Police Department (“BPD”), and three members of the BPD (collectively, “Defendants”) (Doc. 1).[2] The complaint arises from a July 2017 incident in which Defendant Officer David Grossman is alleged to have slammed C.L. against a tree, wrestled C.L. to the ground, and then pinned C.L. down while attempting to handcuff him. Officer Grossman had approached C.L. because he witnessed C.L. “stimming”-self-stimulating with a piece of string, which is a common technique used by individuals with autism to calm their nerves-which he mistook for illegal drug use. There is no suggestion C.L. committed a crime before this encounter occurred.

         On December 10, 2018, the Court entered a Rule 16 scheduling order that established February 8, 2019 as the deadline for amending pleadings. (Doc. 35 ¶ 2.)

         On January 30, 2019, the Court issued an order dismissing several counts of the complaint, including Count III, which asserted a claim failure to train and/or supervise. (Doc. 40.) C.L. had alleged the City of Buckeye failed to “enforce proper and adequate training and supervision on interacting and dealing with individuals with disabilities.” (Doc. 7 ¶ 125.) The Court dismissed that claim because C.L. hadn’t alleged “a pre-existing pattern of violations” sufficient to conclude that the City engaged in “deliberate indifference for purposes of failure to train.” (Doc. 40 at 11-12.)

         On June 27, 2019, C.L. conducted a Rule 30(b)(6) deposition of the City of Buckeye, with the City designating Assistant Police Chief Robert Sanders as its representative. (Doc. 77-3.) During that deposition, Sanders arguably testified that he had knowledge, predating the incident with C.L., that autistic individuals were at a higher risk than other citizens of being involved in encounters with police officers and that these encounters often resulted in the autistic individual’s injury or death. (Doc. 77-1, citing Doc. 77-3 at 2, 15, 25-26.) Further, Sanders testified that he had watched a training video recommending that officers receive additional training to adequately raise awareness about autistic individuals. (Doc. 77-1 at 3, citing 77-3 at 19.) He also arguably testified that the BPD had sufficient time to train its officers on those issues but didn’t. (Doc. 77-1 at 3-4, citing 77-3 at 19, 72.)

         On August 14, 2019, C.L. filed a motion for leave to file a FAC. (Doc. 77.) The proposed FAC seeks to incorporate the newly-discovered facts elicited during the Rule 30(b)(6) deposition in order to resuscitate the failure to train/supervise claim. (Doc. 77-2 ¶¶ 16-42, 149-159.)

         DISCUSSION

         C.L. moves for leave to amend under Rule 15’s liberal amendment standard. (Doc. 77-1.) Defendants, on the other hand, argue C.L. must first show “good cause” under Rule 16 because the deadline to amend pleadings has passed. (Doc. 78 at 2-3.)

         The Court agrees with Defendants that C.L. must first satisfy Rule 16 before turning to Rule 15’s liberal amendment standard. The Court entered a Rule 16 scheduling order on December 10, 2018. (Doc. 35.) That scheduling order established a February 8, 2019 deadline for amending pleadings-a deadline that has already expired. After a deadline established in a Rule 16 scheduling order expires, a party seeking to amend its pleading must satisfy Rule 16’s standards. Johnson v. Mammoth Recreations, Inc., 975 F.2d 604, 607-08 (9th Cir. 1992).

         Because those standards apply here, C.L. must first show “good cause” to amend his complaint. Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(4). “Rule 16(b)’s ‘good cause’ standard primarily considers the diligence of the party seeking the amendment . . . . [C]arelessness is not compatible with a finding of diligence and offers no reason for a grant of relief . . . . [T]he focus of the inquiry is upon the moving party’s reasons for seeking modification. If that party was not diligent, the inquiry should end.” Johnson, 975 F.2d at 609.

         I. Good Cause

         C.L. argues that good cause exists because he is seeking amendment based upon new facts discovered during the 30(b)(6) deposition of the City of Buckeye. (Doc. 89 at 2-3.) Further, C.L. argues he moved for leave to amend “soon after obtaining ...


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