United States District Court, D. Arizona
Douglas L. Rayes, United States District Judge
the Court is Defendant Jeff Scheaffer's motion to
dismiss, which is fully briefed. (Docs. 14, 17, 18, 27, 28.)
For the following reasons, the Court grants Mr.
January 30, 2016, Plaintiff filed a charge against PARC
Dispensary with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
(“EEOC”), alleging, inter alia,
retaliation. (Doc. 1 at 7-25.) On September 26, 2018, the
EEOC issued Plaintiff a notice of right to sue. (Id.
at 27.) Plaintiff filed his complaint against “Jeff
Sheaffer (PARC Dispensary)” in this Court on December
26, 2018, asserting that he was terminated in retaliation for
reporting sexual harassment and discrimination in the
workplace in violation of Title VII. (Id. at 1-13.)
On June 3, 2019, Mr. Sheaffer filed a motion to dismiss
arguing, inter alia, that he is an improper party
against whom administrative remedies have not been exhausted.
(Doc. 14.) On October 22, 2019, the Court ordered
simultaneous supplemental briefing to address whether
allowing Plaintiff to file an amended complaint substituting
PARC Dispensary for Jeff Scheaffer as Defendant would comply
with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(c)(1)(C). The matter
is now ripe.
a district court may review a Title VII claim against a
defendant, a plaintiff must exhaust his or her administrative
remedies by filing a charge against that defendant with the
EEOC or an equivalent agency and receiving a right to sue
letter. Barron v. Ashcroft, 358 F.3d 674, 677 (9th
Cir. 2004); Jasch v. Potter, 302 F.3d 1092, 1094
(9th Cir. 2002). Failure to exhaust remedies against a party
normally will result in dismissal without prejudice. In
re Turner, 101 F.3d 1323 (9th Cir. 1996). A plaintiff
may amend his or her complaint to change the party to the
proper party against whom administrative remedies have been
exhausted such that the amendment relates back to the date of
the original pleading under Rule 15(c)(1)(C). Fed.R.Civ.P.
15(c)(1)(C). Pursuant to Rule 15(c)(1)(C), such amendment is
proper if, within the period provided by Rule 4(m) for
service of summons, the party to be brought in (i) received
such notice of the action that it will not be prejudiced in
defending on the merits; and (ii) knew or should have known
that the action would have been brought against it, but for a
mistake concerning the proper party's identity.
undisputed that Plaintiff's EEOC charge was against PARC
Dispensary and that his right to sue letter pertained to that
entity. However, Plaintiff named Mr. Scheaffer-against whom
Plaintiff has not exhausted administrative remedies-as the
defendant in the instant action. Consequently,
Plaintiff's complaint against Mr. Scheaffer must be
dismissed without prejudice because Plaintiff has not
exhausted administrative remedies as to this defendant.
the Court will grant Plaintiff leave to amend his complaint
to name PARC Dispensary as the proper party pursuant to Rule
15(c)(1)(C) because PARC Dispensary received sufficient
notice of the action that it will not be prejudiced by such
an amendment, and knew or should have known that the action
would have been brought against it but for a mistake
concerning the proper party's identity. Indeed, PARC
Dispensary was named as the only defendant in the EEOC charge
leading up to this action, counsel for PARC Dispensary is
also counsel for Mr. Sheaffer, the summons in this matter was
delivered to PARC Dispensary's address, and PARC
Dispensary is named in parenthesis next to Mr. Sheaffer as
Defendant in the caption of Plaintiff's complaint.
Moreover, PARC Dispensary was aware that Plaintiff was
proceeding pro se and should have known that Plaintiff's
naming of Defendant as “Jeff Scheaffer (PARC
Dispensary)” was likely a mistake due to lack of legal
knowledge. Plaintiff has since confirmed that he believed
that “Jeff Shaeffer (sic) was PARC Dispensary and they
were one and the same. . . This was a mistake on
[Plaintiff's] part.” (Doc. 28 at 3.) Accordingly,
IT IS ORDERED that Defendant's motion to
dismiss (Doc. 14) is GRANTED.
Plaintiff's complaint against Jeff Scheaffer is
DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.
IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff may file an
amended complaintnaming PARC Dispensary as the defendant by
no later than December 6, 2019.
Should Plaintiff fail to file an amended complaint by this
deadline, the Clerk of Court is directed to terminate the
case without further order of the Court.
IS FURTHER ORDERED that all remaining motions are
denied as moot.
 Counsel for Mr. Sheaffer and PARC
Dispensaries contends that the requirements of Rule
15(c)(1)(C) have not been met, because Plaintiff's
service of summons was untimely under Rule 4(m). (Doc. 27 at
3.) However, a district court has broad discretion to extend
the time for service. In re Sheehan, 253 F.3d 507,
513 (9th Cir. 2001). Here, the Court exercised such
discretion and granted Plaintiff an extension of 45 days.
(Doc. 12.) The Court recognizes that its order granting the
extension was ambiguous regarding the new deadline for
service. An extension of 45 days from the original service
deadline would have created a new deadline of May 10, 2019.
An extension of 45 days from the date the order was issued
would result in a May 17, 2019 deadline. Service was executed
on May 12, 2019. (Doc. 13.) If the Court were to adopt the
first interpretation, service was executed two days late. In
contrast, if the Court adopts the second interpretation,
service was timely. The ...