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Barcia v. Contain-A-Way

April 1, 2008

RAMON BARCIA, ON BEHALF OF HIMSELF AND ALL PERSONS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CONTAIN-A-WAY, INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Irma E. Gonzalez, Chief Judge United States District Court

ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO AMEND IN PART AND DENYING IN PART AS MOOT [Doc. No. 15.]

Presently before the Court is plaintiff Ramon Barcia's motion to amend the complaint. (Doc. No. 15.) Defendant Contain-A-Way, Inc., has filed an opposition to the motion (Doc. No. 16) and plaintiff has filed a reply. (Doc. No. 17.) The Court finds the matter fully briefed and appropriate for disposition without oral argument pursuant to Local Civil Rule 7.1(d)(1). For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint and DENIES the motion in part as moot.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff brings the instant class action on behalf of employees at defendant's recycling centers for alleged violations of federal and state labor laws. Plaintiff filed a complaint on May 23, 2007, alleging six causes of action: (1) failure to pay earned wages and overtime compensation; (2) failure to provide rest periods; (3) failure to provide accurate itemized statements; (4) unlawful business practices in violation of California's Unfair Competition Law; (5) declaratory and injunctive relief under an Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA") plan; and (6) violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Defendant filed an answer on September 14, 2007. (Doc. No. 4.)

In the instant motion, filed February 25, 2008,*fn1 plaintiff seeks leave to: (1) add a new co-lead plaintiff; (2) modify the facts pleaded regarding meal and rest periods; (3) add a claim for monetary damages in connection with the ERISA claim; (4) claim an additional remedy under California's Private Attorneys General Act; and (5) amend the class definition.

DISCUSSION

Legal Standard

Under Rule 15 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, "a party may amend the party's pleading only by leave of court or by written consent of the adverse party; and leave shall be freely given when justice so requires." Leave to amend is granted with "extreme liberality." Morongo Band of Mission Indians v. Rose, 893 F.2d 1074, 1079 (9th Cir. 1990). "There are several accepted reasons why leave to amend should not be granted, including the presence of bad faith on the part of the [party seeking to amend], undue delay, prejudice to the [party opposing amendment], futility of amendment, and that the party has previously amended the relevant pleading." Advanced Cardiovascular Sys., Inc. v. SciMed Life Sys., Inc., 989 F. Supp. 1237, 1241 (N.D. Cal. 1997). "Not all of the factors merit equal weight. As this circuit and others have held, it is the consideration of prejudice to the opposing party that carries the greatest weight." Eminence Capital, LLC v. Aspeon, Inc., 316 F.3d 1048, 1052 (9th Cir. 2003).

Analysis

1. Stipulated Amendments

Defendant does not oppose adding Randall Lewis as co-lead plaintiff to replace Matthew Carter, who voluntarily dismissed his claims in December, 2007. Defendant does oppose the proposed addition of facts alleging a "seventh consecutive workday claim."*fn2 Plaintiff, in reply, concedes he proposed this amendment by mistake, and no longer seeks leave to add seventh consecutive workday allegations. (Reply at 1, 10.) Accordingly, plaintiff may add Mr. Lewis as co-lead plaintiff and the Court denies plaintiff's motion as moot with respect to the seventh consecutive workday claim.

2. Contested Amendments

A. Amended Meal and Rest Period Allegations

Plaintiff Ramon Barcia initially pleaded he received lunch breaks but did not receive rest periods. The proposed first amended complaint states that in addition to not receiving rest periods, the employees "did not always receive the required break for lunch." Defendant argues this amendment is futile because plaintiff may not contradict the prior pleading.*fn3 In reply, plaintiff argues the prior pleading was a mistake. Randall Lewis, the new co-lead plaintiff, illustrated in his deposition on January 11, 2008 the employees' ...


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