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Scott Johnston v. City of Red Bluff

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


July 14, 2011

SCOTT JOHNSTON,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITY OF RED BLUFF, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Craig M. Kellison United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER

Plaintiff brings this civil action under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 621-634, against the City of Red Bluff and various of its current and/or former employees, Martin Nichols, Tessa Pritchard, Mark Barthel, and Richard Crabtree. Plaintiff alleges age discrimination and related constitutional and state law torts with respect to his employment as an engineering technician for defendant City of Red Bluff. All defendants have appeared by way of their answer filed on June 5, 2009. Pending before the court is defendants' motion to amend the answer (Doc. 59).

In their motion, defendants seek leave to file an amended answer to add as an affirmative defense that some of plaintiff's claims are barred by the exclusive remedy provisions of California's worker's compensation statute. Plaintiff opposes, arguing: (1) the motion is presented in bad faith for the purpose of hindering plaintiff's ability to respond to defendants' opposition to his motions for summary judgment; and (2) the amendment is futile because the issue of the worker's compensation exclusive remedy has already been litigated and decided against defendants.

Leave to amend a party's pleading pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a) should be freely granted unless there is a strong reason justifying denial, such as undue delay, bad faith, prejudice to the opposing party, or futility. See Forman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962). In this case, there is no evidence of any bad faith. Notwithstanding the filing of the motion to amend, plaintiff was still able to file a reply brief relating to his motions for summary judgment. Plaintiff's argument that the amendment would be futile because the worker's compensation exclusive remedy provision has been litigated is unpersuasive. While the court discussed the issue in the February 8, 2011, findings and recommendations, that portion of the findings and recommendations was not addressed by the District Judge.*fn1 Thus, the issue has not been litigated against defendants as plaintiff suggests.

Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that:

1. Defendants' motion for leave to file an amended answer (Doc. 59) is granted; and

3. The Clerk of the Court is directed to file the proposed amended answer submitted at Doc. 59-1, which shall be considered timely filed.


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