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Richard Hylton v. Anytime Towing

March 26, 2012

RICHARD HYLTON,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
ANYTIME TOWING,
RICKENBACKER COLLECTION SERVICES,
RICKENBACKER GROUP, RICKENBACKER COLLECTION SYSTEM, CARLOS CASAS, ENRIQUEZ, CITY OF SAN DIEGO, DOES 1--10, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Janis L. Sammartino United States District Judge

ORDER

(1) GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO AMEND COMPLAINT;

(2) DENYING AS MOOT PARTIAL JUDGMENT AS A MATTER OF LAW;

(3) DENYING AS MOOT DEFENDANT ANYTIME TOWING'S MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS;

(4) DENYING AS MOOT CITY DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (ECF Nos. 21, 26)

PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR

Presently before the Court is Plaintiff Richard Hylton's ("Plaintiff") motion to amend complaint and for partial judgment as a matter of law, (Mot. to Am. & Mot. Partial J., ECF No. 21), Defendant Anytime Towing's motion for judgment on the pleadings, (Mot. J. on the Pleadings, ECF No. 26). Also before the Court are the associated oppositions and replies. The motion hearings set for January 5, 2012, and February 2, 2012, respectively, were vacated, and the matters taken under submission on the papers. Having considered the parties' arguments and the law, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's motion to amend complaint. Accordingly, Plaintiff's motion for partial judgment as a matter of law and Defendant Anytime Towing's motion for judgment on the pleadings are DENIED AS MOOT.*fn1

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, filed suit on May 12, 2011, alleging violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA"), 15 U.S.C. § 1692, et seq., and the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Cal. Civ. Code § 1788, among other claims. (Compl., ECF No. 1) In short, Plaintiff is challenging the impounding and later auctioning of his vehicle after he was cited for driving with an expired registration. (Id. ¶¶ 18--31)

Approximately four months after filing the original complaint-several months after Defendants Enriquez and Anytime Towing had filed answers, (Enriquez Answer, ECF No. 4; Anytime Towing Answer, ECF Nos. 8, 9), but just fourteen days after Defendant City of San Diego filed its answer, (City of San Diego Answer, ECF No. 19)-Plaintiff filed the instant motion seeking leave to file an amended complaint, (Mot. to Am. & Mot. Partial J., ECF No. 21).

The first amended complaint purports to (1) more fully identify Defendant Emery Enriquez, named in the original complaint as simply "Enriquez,"; (2) add Officer Billy Andal ("Andal"), referred to throughout the original complaint as simply "Enriquez's partner," as a defendant; (3) remove Defendant Rickenbacker and its principal Carlos Casas (collectively, "Rickenbacker Defendants") as defendants; (4) add Lienenforcement, Inc. as a defendant, for violations of the FDCPA since the filing of the original complaint; and (5) add a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim against Defendants City of San Diego, Enriquez, and Andal, based on information developed since the filing of the original complaint.*fn2 (Id.); (Proposed First Am. Compl. ("FAC"), ECF No. 21-5)

LEGAL STANDARD

Leave to amend should be freely given "when justice so requires." Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2). But while the rule should be interpreted extremely liberally, leave should not be granted automatically. Jackson v. Bank of Haw., 902 F.2d 1385, 1387 (9th Cir. 1990). "The party opposing amendment bears the burden of showing prejudice." DCD Programs, Ltd. v. Leighton, 833 F.2d 183, 187 (9th Cir. 1987). A trial court may deny a motion for leave to amend based on various factors, including bad faith, undue delay, prejudice to the opposing party, futility of amendment, and whether the party has previously amended. Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962). Relevant here, "[t]he rule favoring liberality in amendments to pleadings is particularly important for the pro se litigant." Noll v. Carlson, 809 F.2d 1446, 1448 (9th Cir. 1987).

A motion to amend a complaint to add or drop a party may also implicate Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 21, which grants the district court discretion to add or drop a party. Rules 19 and 20 govern who may be joined as a party. Rule 20(a)(2) allows for the permissive joinder of defendants if "any right to relief is asserted against them jointly, severally, or in the alternative with respect to or arising out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series ...


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