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GREENFIELD v. AMERICA WEST AIRLINES

November 12, 2004.

KELLY GREENFIELD, Plaintiff,
v.
AMERICA WEST AIRLINES, INC.; and DOUGLAS STOLLS, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MARILYN PATEL, Chief Judge, District

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Amend Complaint

Plaintiff Kelly Greenfield brought this action against America West Airlines, Inc., a Delaware corporation, and Douglas Stolls, an individual, alleging the following causes of action: gender discrimination, harassment and retaliation, sexual harassment resulting in a hostile work environment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, wrongful termination, and interference with prospective economic advantage. Both parties have stipulated to the dismissal of plaintiff's cause of action for interference with prospective economic advantage. Now before the court is plaintiff's motion for leave to amend the complaint to introduce new claims of defamation and negligent supervision under California state law. Having considered the parties' arguments and submissions, and for the reasons set forth below, the court rules as follows.

  BACKGROUND*fn1

  Kelly Greenfield, age 28, began employment with Defendant America West Airlines, Inc. ("America West") on March 12, 2001 as a Customer Service Representative. Her employment with America West was involuntarily terminated on July 31, 2003. Plaintiff thereafter brought this action against America West under the provisions of 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000(e) et. seq. alleging gender discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and sexual harassment resulting in a hostile work environment, as well as pendent state court claims for gender discrimination, harassment, and retaliation in violation of Fair Employment and Housing Act. Cal. Gov. Code § 12900 et. seq. In addition, she alleged wrongful termination in violation of public policy and a violation of California Labor Code § 201 for failure to pay wages upon plaintiff's alleged wrongful termination against America West. Against both defendants, plaintiff alleged intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress. The parties have stipulated to dismiss plaintiff's claim against both defendants for interference with prospective economic advantage.

  Both defendants have answered the complaint. Defendants have asserted a number of affirmative defenses, including their good faith efforts to prevent sexual harassment, plaintiff's failure to mitigate damages, plaintiff's failure to state facts sufficient to recover punitive damages, and statute of limitations, to name a few. Defendants object to plaintiff's motion to amend her complaint to add new causes of action. First of all, they argue that plaintiff has failed to provide the court with a proposed amended pleading, in violation of the local rules. Secondly, defendants believe that leave to amend would cause unfair prejudice to their case because the amendment would require re-opening discovery and postponing the summary judgment schedule. Thirdly, defendants characterize this motion as a dilatory litigation tactic potentially made in bad faith. Lastly, they argue that leave to amend would be futile for failure to state a claim for defamation or negligent supervision upon which relief can be granted.

  LEGAL STANDARD

  The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide that leave to amend be "freely given when justice so requires." Fed.R. Civ. Pro 15(a). The Ninth Circuit has construed this broadly, requiring that leave to amend be granted with "extraordinary liberality." Morongo Band of Mission Indians v. Rose, 893 F.2d 1074, 1079 (9th Cir. 1990); see also DCD Programs, Ltd. v. Leighton, 833 F.2d 183, 186 (9th Cir. 1987) (Rule 15's policy of favoring amendments to pleadings should be applied with "extreme liberality"); Advanced Cardiovascular Sys., Inc. v. SciMed Life Sys., Inc., 989 F.Supp. 1237, 1241 (N.D. Cal. 1997) ("[T]he court must be very liberal in granting leave to amend"); Poling v. Morgan, 829 F.2d 882, 886 (9th Cir. 1987) (describing a "strong policy permitting amendment").

  Despite this liberal policy of amendment, leave will not be given where the district court has "a substantial reason to deny" the motion. J.W. Moore et al., Moore's Federal Practice § 15.14[1] (3d ed. 1998) ("[D]istrict judge[s] should freely grant leave to amend when justice requires, absent a substantial reason to deny"). The court may decline to grant leave where there is "any apparent or declared reason" for doing so. Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962); see also Lockman Found. v. Evangelical Alliance Mission, 930 F.2d 764, 772 (9th Cir. 1991).

  The Ninth Circuit has interpreted Foman as identifying "four factors relevant to whether a motion for leave to amend pleadings should be denied: undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive, futility of amendment, and prejudice to the opposing party." United States v. Webb, 655 F.2d 977, 980 (9th Cir. 1981). See also Poling v. Morgan, 829 F.2d 882, 886 (9th Cir. 1987). The enumerated factors are not of equal weight, and delay alone is insufficient to deny leave to amend. Id. (citing Howey v. United States, 481 F.2d 1187 (9th Cir. 1973)). By the same token, "[p]rejudice to the opposing party is the most important factor." Jackson v. Bank of Hawaii, 902 F.2d 1385, 1387 (9th Cir. 1990). The party opposing leave to amend bears the burden of showing prejudice. DCD Programs, Ltd. v. Leighton, 833 F.2d 183, 187 (9th Cir. 1987). In such cases, justice does not require amendment, as leave to amend would further an injustice upon the defendant.

  DISCUSSION

  Plaintiff has moved for leave to amend under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15 in the present motion. Defendants have advanced four arguments for denying the present motion to amend the pleadings, namely: (1) that plaintiff has failed to provide the court with a proposed amended pleading, (2) that leave to amend would cause unfair prejudice to defendants, (3) that plaintiff has engaged in dilatory tactics, and (4) that leave to amend would be futile. This court considers these arguments in light of the applicable factors for evaluating a motion to amend. See Foman, 371 U.S. at 182. I. Procedural Defects

  As an initial matter, the local rules of this district require that parties filing or moving to file an amended pleading must reproduce the entire proposed pleading and may not merely incorporate any part of a prior pleading by reference. Civ. Local R. 10-1. Plaintiff failed to submit her proposed amended complaint until requested by the court on October 13, 2004. Failure to reproduce an entire proposed pleading to this court provides an adequate basis to reject her motion. ...


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