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Justin Valley, Individually and On Behalf of v. Automated Systems of America

January 13, 2012

JUSTIN VALLEY, INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
AUTOMATED SYSTEMS OF AMERICA, INC., AND DOES 1 -10, INCLUSIVE, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John A. Houston United States District Judge

ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO AMEND COMPLAINT [DOC. #11]

INTRODUCTION

Currently pending before this Court is the motion for leave to file a first amended complaint by Justin Valley ("plaintiff"). Plaintiff's motion has been fully briefed by the parties. After a careful consideration of the pleadings submitted, and for the reasons set forth below, this Court GRANTS plaintiff's motion.

BACKGROUND

The instant class action complaint, originally filed on February 16 , 2011, seeks relief based on allegations that defendant Automated Systems of America, Inc. ("defendant ASAI"), as owner and operator of an ATM, imposed fees for electronic fund transfers without the fee notice required by 15 U.S.C. § 1693, commonly known as the Electronic Fund Transfer Act, and 12 C.F.R. § 205, commonly known as Regulation E. Plaintiff seeks class certification, statutory damages pursuant to 15 U.S.C. § 1693m, costs of suit, and attorney's fees.

Defendant ASAI filed an answer to the complaint on March 29, 2011. A scheduling order was issued on June 28, 2011, setting pretrial deadlines, including a deadline for filing motions to amend pleadings.

On August 15, 2011, plaintiff filed the instant motion seeking leave to file a first amended complaint. Defendant ASAI filed a response to the motion on October 11, 2011. This Court subsequently took the motion under submission without oral argument.

DISCUSSION

1. Legal Standard

The filing of an amended complaint after a responsive pleading has been filed may be allowed by leave of court. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a). Rule 15(a) provides in pertinent part:

A party may amend the party's pleading once as a matter of course at any time before a responsive pleading is served or, if the pleading is one to which no responsive pleading is permitted and the action has not been placed upon the trial calendar, the party may so amend within 20 days after it is served. Otherwise, a party may amend the party's pleadings only by leave of court or by written consent of the adverse party; and leave shall be freely given when justice so requires.

The Supreme Court has instructed lower courts to heed the language of Rule 15(a) to grant leave freely when justice requires. Howey v. United States, 481 F.2d 1187, 1190 (9th Cir. 1973). Because Rule 15(a) mandates that leave to amend should be freely given when justice so requires, the rule is to be interpreted with "extreme liberality." United States v. Webb, 655 F.2d 977, 979 (9th Cir. 1981).

Granting leave to amend rests in the sound discretion of the trial court. International Ass'n of Machinists & Aerospace Workers v. Republic Airlines, 761 F.2d 1386, 1390 (9th Cir. 1985). This discretion must be guided by the strong federal policy favoring the disposition of cases on the merits. DCD Programs Ltd. v. Leighton, 833 F.2d 183, 186 (9th Cir. 1987). Because Rule 15(a) favors a liberal policy, the nonmoving party bears the burden of demonstrating why leave to amend should not be granted. Genetech, Inc. v. Abbott Laboratories, 127 F.R.D. 529 (N.D. Cal. 1989).

However, even though leave to amend is generally granted freely, it is not granted automatically. See Zivkovic v. Southern Cal. Edison Co., 302 F.3d 1080, 1087 (9th Cir. 2002). Four factors are considered when a court determines whether to allow amendment of a pleading. These are prejudice to the opposing party, undue delay, bad faith, and futility. See Forsyth v. Humana, 114 F.3d 1467, ...


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