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Brown v. Pitney Bowes

November 6, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Thomas J. Whelan United States District Judge


(Doc. No. 13.)

Pending before the Court is Plaintiff Patricia Jones's motion for leave to file her First Amended Complaint ("FAC"). Defendant Pitney Bowes, Inc., opposes the motion. The Court decides the matter on the papers submitted and without oral argument. See S.D. Cal. Civ. R. 7.1(d.1). For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's motion for leave to amend. (Doc. No. 13.)


Plaintiff Patricia Brown ("Plaintiff") was employed by Defendant Pitney Bowes, Inc. ("Defendant") from December 1, 1990, to December 17, 2008. (Compl. [Doc. No. 1] at 3--4.) On June 14, 2007, Plaintiff was questioned in a private office by members of Defendant's human resources and corporate integrity affairs divisions in regard to an investigation of company policy violations by Plaintiff. (Id. at 4.) According to the Complaint, Plaintiff was not allowed to leave the office for over two hours. (Id.) Two weeks later, Defendant placed Plaintiff on disability leave. (Id.) On December 17, 2007, Defendant terminated Plaintiff's employment. (Id.)

On December 17, 2008, Plaintiff filed suit against Defendant in San Diego Superior Court. (Id. at 1.) Among other charges, Plaintiff alleged that Defendant's questioning of Plaintiff on June 14, 2007, was false imprisonment. (Id. at 7.) On January 22, 2009, Defendant timely removed the suit to this Court under federal diversity jurisdiction. (Removal [Doc. No. 1] at 1.)

On March 19, 2009, the parties met for a Rule 26(f) Discovery Planning Conference by order of Magistrate Judge Porter. (Def's Opp. [Doc. No. 16] at 2.) During that meeting, Defendant apparently informed Plaintiff that her false imprisonment cause of action was time-barred under the one-year statute of limitations in California Code of Civil Procedure § 340(c). (Id.) Plaintiff's Complaint was filed approximately eighteen months after the alleged imprisonment occurred. Consequently, Defendant requested that Plaintiff stipulate to strike the false imprisonment cause of action. (Id.)

Two weeks later, on April 14, 2009, Plaintiff requested Defendant stipulate to a First Amended Complaint ("FAC"). (Id.) Plaintiff's proposed FAC alleges new facts that Plaintiff became "immediately insane" at the time of her alleged false imprisonment. (Pl's Proposed First Amended Compl. [Doc. No. 13] at 4.) Additionally, Plaintiff's insanity continued until a period of time after her termination in December 17, 2007. (Id.) This insanity would potentially toll the statute of limitations on Plaintiff's false imprisonment cause of action, thereby satisfying the one-year statute of limitations. (Id.)

Defendant refused to stipulate to the proposal, and Plaintiff thereafter filed the present motion for leave to file the FAC. (Doc. No. 13.) Defendant opposes Plaintiff's motion. (Doc. No. 16.)


Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a) covers amendments before trial. Rule 15(a)(2) provides: "[A] party may amend its pleading only with the opposing party's written consent or the court's leave. The court should freely give leave when justice so requires." Courts apply this rule with "extreme liberality" in favor of granting leave to amend. Eminence Capital, LLC v. Aspeon, Inc., 316 F.3d 1048, 1051 (9th Cir. 2003) (quoting Owens v. Kaiser Found. Health Plan, Inc., 244 F.3d 708, 712 (9th Cir. 2001).

In Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178 (1962), the Supreme Court identified the following factors for consideration in granting leave to amend: (1) "undue delay," (2) "bad faith or dilatory motive," (3) "repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed," (4) "undue prejudice to the opposing party," and (5) "futility of the amendment." Id. at 182. Of these factors, prejudice to the opposing party is given the most weight. Eminence, 316 F.3d at 1052. "Absent prejudice, or a strong showing of any of the remaining Foman factors, there exists a presumption under Rule 15(a) in favor of granting leave to amend." Id. (emphasis in original).


Plaintiff contends that the purpose of her FAC is to properly plead facts for the purpose of statutory tolling on the false imprisonment claim. (Pl's Mot. at 1--2.) According to Plaintiff, her FAC is justified because "[f]ederal policy strongly favors determination if cases on their merits." (Id. at 2.) Defendant counters that Plaintiff's FAC should be rejected because it is untimely, futile, and a bad-faith attempt by Plaintiff to "further drive up litigation costs, to force a higher settlement, or simply harass [Defendant]." (Def's Opp. at 3--4.) The ...

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