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Schroeder v. San Diego Unified School Dist.

February 5, 2009

JESSICA SCHROEDER, BY AND THROUGH HER GUARDIAN AD LITEM MARINA LANERI SCHROEDER; MARINA LANERI SCHROEDER, INDIVIDUALLY, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
SAN DIEGO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT; KIMBERLY CHAMBERS; FERNANDO RAY ORTIZ; HENRY L. ORTIZ; AND SYLVIA ORTIZ, DEFENDANTS.



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

Order Granting Plaintiff's Motion to Amend [Doc. No. 57]

Plaintiff*fn1 moves the Court for leave to amend her complaint to delete certain claims and parties and to add three new Defendants -- Michael Jiminez (the vice-principal at the school where the underlying incident occurred), Susan Skinner (a counselor at the school), and the Board of Education of the San Diego Unified School District. Defendants filed an opposition, arguing Plaintiff's claims against the proposed new Defendants are time-barred.

Plaintiff filed a reply raising several new arguments in support of her motion. As a result, the Court vacated the January 5, 2009 hearing date and requested that Defendants file a sur-reply.

Defendants have filed their sur-reply.

Upon review, the Court finds the motion appropriate for submission on the papers and without oral argument pursuant to Local Civil Rule 7.1(d)(1). For the reasons explained herein, Plaintiff's motion is GRANTED.

Background

The Court's November 26, 2007 order denying Defendants' motion to dismiss sets forth in detail the factual background of this case, which need not be restated in full herein. In short, at the time of the incident giving rise to this lawsuit, Plaintiff Jessica Schroeder was an 18-year-old mentally disabled young woman with the mental capacity of a very young child. Miss Schroeder attended Serra High School, within the San Diego Unified School District (" SDUSD"), as a special needs student in teacher Kimberly Chambers' classroom. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Fernando Ortiz, a student and peer tutor at Serra High School, sexually assaulted Miss Schroeder at school, while class was in session.

Plaintiff's original complaint stated claims for relief against SDUSD and Chambers under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and California Civil Code § 51.9. Plaintiff also stated a claim for relief against SDUSD under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the California Unruh Act. Finally, Plaintiff stated claims against both SDUSD and Chambers for negligence. The Court on November 26, 2007 denied Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiff's claims. On August 25, 2008, new counsel substituted into this case on behalf of Plaintiff.

Plaintiff now moves to amend the complaint to delete the following claims: all claims asserted by Marina Schroeder, individually; Plaintiff's claims against Fernando Ortiz and his family; Plaintiff's claims based on the Americans with Disabilities Act; Plaintiff's claim based on California Civil Code § 51.9; and Plaintiff's claim based on the Unruh Act. This will leave only Plaintiff's claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and her state law negligence cause of action.

Plaintiff also seeks to add three new Defendants -- Michael Jiminez (the vice-principal at the school where the underlying incident occurred), Susan Skinner (a counselor at the school), and the Board of Education of the San Diego Unified School District. Defendants have filed an opposition to this portion of Plaintiff's motion to amend, arguing Plaintiff's claims against the proposed new Defendants are barred by the statute of limitations.

Discussion

Pursuant to Rule 15(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a party must obtain leave of court to amend its pleading after a responsive pleading has been filed. However, "[t]he court should freely give leave when justice so requires." Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2). A district court may deny leave to amend based upon any one of the following four factors: bad faith, undue delay, prejudice to the opposing party, and/or futility. Griggs v. Pace American Group, Inc., 170 F.3d 877, 880 (9th Cir. 1999). Defendants argue Plaintiff's claims against the proposed new Defendants are time-barred such that the proposed amendment would be futile.*fn2

Because 42 U.S.C. § 1983 contains no limitations period, the court applies the forum state's statute of limitations for personal injury actions. Jones v. Blanas, 393 F.3d 918, 927 (9th Cir. 2004). The Court also applies the forum state's law regarding tolling, including equitable tolling, unless such law is inconsistent with federal law. Id.

Pursuant to Cal. Code Civ. Proc. ยง 355.1, the statute of limitations for personal injury actions in California is two years. Thus, Defendants argue Plaintiff's claims against the new proposed Defendants should have been filed on or before ...


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