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Peruta v. County of San Diego

June 25, 2010


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


Currently before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Amend Complaint. Defendants filed an opposition and Plaintiff replied. Having considered the parties' arguments, and for the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS the motion to amend.


As relevant to this motion, Plaintiff Edward Peruta ("Peruta") filed this lawsuit on October 9, 2009, alleging three causes of action against Defendants County of San Diego and William D. Gore, individually and in his capacity as sheriff. [Doc. No. 1]. Peruta's complaint arose from his attempts to obtain a concealed weapon's permit ("CCW") in San Diego County. Peruta alleged he was denied a CCW by Defendant Gore's predecessor because the San Diego License Division made a finding that he did not have good cause and was not a resident of San Diego--both of which are requirements under Section 12050 of the California Penal Code ("Section 12050").

Defendant Gore filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's complaint on November 12, 2009, which the Court denied in its entirety on January 14, 2010. [Doc. No. 7]. Since then, Peruta alleges he discovered additional information and developed new legal theories necessitating the filing of an amended complaint. (Motion to Amend, at 2.) Accordingly, Peruta filed the present motion for leave to file an amended complaint on April 22, 2010. [Doc. No. 16]. Defendant filed an opposition, and Peruta replied. [Doc. Nos. 19, 20]. Subsequently, the Court took the motion under submission pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7.1(d)(1). [Doc. No. 21].


Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a) allows a party to amend its pleading with leave of court after the period for amendment as a matter of course has expired. See FED. R. CIV. P. 15(a)(2). Pursuant to Rule 15(a), "[t]he court should freely give leave when justice so requires." Id. The Ninth Circuit has construed this broadly, requiring that leave to amend be granted with "extreme liberality." Morongo Band of Mission Indians v. Rose, 893 F.2d 1074, 1079 (9th Cir. 1990) (citation omitted); Poling v. Morgan, 829 F.2d 882, 886 (9th Cir. 1987) (noting "the strong policy permitting amendment" (citation omitted)). This broad discretion "must be guided by the underlying purpose of Rule 15 to facilitate decision on the merits, rather than on the pleadings or technicalities." United States v. Webb, 655 F.2d 977, 979 (9th Cir. 1981) (citing Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47-48 (1957)).

The Supreme Court has articulated five factors that the court should consider in deciding whether to grant leave to amend: (1) bad faith; (2) undue delay; (3) prejudice to the opposing party; (4) futility of amendment; and (5) whether the party has previously amended its pleadings. Forman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962); see also Eminence Capital, LLC v. Aspeon, Inc., 316 F.3d 1048, 1051-52 (9th Cir. 2003). Not all factors merit equal weight, however. Eminence Capital, 316 F.3d at 1052. "Prejudice is the 'touchstone of the inquiry under rule 15(a)'" and "carries the greatest weight." Id. (citations omitted). Nevertheless, "[f]utility of amendment can, by itself, justify the denial of a motion for leave to amend." Bonin v. Calderon, 59 F.3d 815, 845 (9th Cir. 1995).


In his motion to amend, Peruta alleges that since the filing of the complaint he has learned the identities of other individuals who were unlawfully denied issuance of CCWs by Defendants and who wish to be included as plaintiffs in this suit. (Michel Decl., ¶¶ 4-5.) Peruta also wishes to add causes of action for violation of Section 12050, the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the United States Constitution, and the requirements of Due Process. (Id.) The amended complaint also seeks a declaration from the Court that the right to self defense constitutes "good cause" for the issuance of a CCW. According to Peruta, none of these amendments would prejudice Defendants.

Defendants oppose the motion to amend on the ground that it "raise[s] issues of fact not raised by the original complaint and which compound and confuse the legal issues previously sought to be addressed by this litigation." (Def. Opp., at 2-3.) Defendants also allege that the California Rifle and Pistol Association Foundation ("CRPAF") lacks standing to be a plaintiff. (Id.)

A. California Rifle and Pistol Association Foundation

Associational standing permits an organization to litigate as a representative of its members if: "(a) its members would otherwise have standing to sue in their own right; (b) the interests it seeks to protect are germane to the organization's purpose; and (c) neither the claim asserted nor the relief requested requires the participation of individual members in the lawsuit." Hunt v. Wash. State Apple Adver. Comm'n, 432 U.S. 333, 343 (1977). In this case, Defendants argue the CRPAF cannot satisfy the third prong of the associational standing test because Plaintiffs' as-applied claims and the relief they seek, although equitable in nature, both require "individualized proof" specific to each permit application. See Ass'n of Christian Sch. Int'l v. Stearns, 362 Fed. App'x 640 (9th Cir. 2010).

Whether an association satisfies the third prong of the associational standing test depends on the claims it asserts and the relief it requests. See Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 511 (1975). Thus, the Supreme Court has found the third prong to be satisfied where "there is complete identity between the interests of the [association] and those of its [members] with respect to the issues raised in this suit, and the necessary proof could be presented 'in ...

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