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Stevens v. Huhtamaki

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


October 22, 2010

RAY ANTHONY STEVENS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
HUHTAMAKI, DEFENDANT.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kendall J. Newman United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER

Presently before the court is plaintiff's motion for leave to file an amended complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15. (Dkt. No. 36.) Despite the fact that plaintiff filed his motion after expiration of the applicable law and motion completion date and did not notice his motion for an appropriate hearing date under this court's Local Rules, the court, out of an abundance of caution, ordered that defendant file a response to the motion. (Dkt. No. 38.) Defendant filed such a response. (Dkt. No. 39.) For the reasons that follow, the undersigned will deny plaintiff's motion for leave to amend.

Plaintiff filed his complaint on June 1, 2009. (Dkt. No. 1.) In that complaint, plaintiff alleges that defendant engaged in unlawful employment discrimination against him in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq.

This court subsequently entered a Status (Pretrial Scheduling) Order, which provided, in part, that "[n]o further . . . amendments to pleadings is permitted except with leave of court, good cause having been shown." (Dkt. No. 17 at 2.) It further provided: "All law and motion, except as to discovery . . . shall be conducted so as to be completed by August 20, 2010. The word "completed" in this context means that all law and motion matters must be heard on or before the above date." (Id.) In a subsequent order, the court granted, out of an abundance of caution and despite the lack of any obligation to do so, plaintiff's motion for extension of the discovery completion deadline and, as a result, also extended the law and motion completion deadline to September 9, 2010. (Dkt. No. 22 ("All law and motion, except as to discovery, shall be conducted so as to be "completed," as that term is defined in the Status (Pretrial Scheduling) Order, by September 9, 2010.").)*fn1

Plaintiff initially filed a motion for leave to amend his complaint on August 4, 2010, but failed to properly notice that motion for a hearing before the court and failed to lodge his proposed amended complaint. (Dkt. No. 23.) Because of plaintiff's failure to follow the court's Local Rules, the court ordered plaintiff to re-notice his motion for an appropriate hearing date and lodge the proposed amended complaint with the court.*fn2 (Dkt. No. 25.) Plaintiff did not immediately correct the deficiencies in his motion.

On September 13, 2010, over one month later and after the expiration of the already-continued law and motion completion deadline, plaintiff filed the pending motion for leave to file an amended complaint. Plaintiff noticed his untimely motion for a hearing to take place on September 9, 2010, which is in violation of Local Rule 230(b). Plaintiff has not filed a motion to amend the scheduling order to extend the law and motion completion date.

The proposed amended complaint attached to plaintiff's motion reflects that plaintiff is seeking leave to further allege the following: (1) defendant violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by failing to properly review plaintiff's arrest and conviction record before deciding not to hire him; (2) defendant's reasons for its decision not to hire plaintiff support an "inference of discrimination" because those reasons were a "pretext for discrimination"; (3) defendant violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because its reasons for not hiring plaintiff were factually unsupported; and (4) defendant violated "privacy laws" and defamed plaintiff by "alleging that defendant's background check had a criminal hit of a registered child molster [sic]." (Pl.'s Mot. for Leave to Amend, Ex. A, Dkt, No. 36, Doc. No. 36-1.)

"Once the district court ha[s] filed a pretrial scheduling order pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16 which establishe[s] a timetable for amending pleadings that rule's standards control[]" whether a the scheduling order should be amended. Johnson v. Mammoth Recreations, Inc., 975 F.2d 604, 607 (9th Cir. 1992). Thus, plaintiff's ability to amend his complaint is governed first by Rule 16(b), not Rule 15(a). See id. at 608.

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16(b)(4), "[a] schedule may be modified only for good cause and with the judge's consent." See also Zivkovic v. So. Cal. Edison Co., 302 F.3d 1080, 1087 (9th Cir. 2002) ("In general, the pretrial scheduling order can only be modified 'upon a showing of good cause.'") (citing Johnson, 975 F.2d at 607). The Ninth Circuit has articulated the Rule 16 inquiry as follows:

"A court's evaluation of good cause is not coextensive with an inquiry into the propriety of the amendment under . . . Rule 15." Unlike Rule 15(a)'s liberal amendment policy which focuses on the bad faith of the party seeking to interpose an amendment and the prejudice to the opposing party, Rule 16(b)'s "good cause" standard primarily considers the diligence of the party seeking the amendment. The district court may modify the pretrial schedule "if it cannot reasonably be met despite the diligence of the party seeking the extension." Moreover, carelessness is not compatible with a finding of diligence and offers no reason for a grant of relief. Although the existence or degree of prejudice to the party opposing the modification might supply additional reasons to deny a motion, the focus of the inquiry is upon the moving party's reasons for seeking modification. If that party was not diligent, the inquiry should end.

Johnson, 975 F.2d at 609 (citations omitted).

Here, plaintiff has not shown "good cause" in support of his request for leave to amend his complaint and, similarly, has not demonstrated good cause in support of any modification of the Status (Pretrial Scheduling) Order that would permit plaintiff to file an amended complaint. Indeed, plaintiff did not even file a motion to modify the scheduling order or offer any arguments regarding good cause in his motion. Moreover, plaintiff has demonstrated a lack of diligence in prosecuting his case that ends the inquiry. As recounted in prior orders issued by the court, plaintiff essentially allowed his case to languish without activity until the discovery and law and motions completion deadlines were upon him. (See Dkt. Nos. 22, 28, 38.)

Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff's motion for leave to amend is denied.

IT IS SO ORDERED.


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