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United States of America Ex Rel. Katherine Knapp v. Calibre Systems

May 4, 2012

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA EX REL. KATHERINE KNAPP, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CALIBRE SYSTEMS, INC. DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Otis D. Wright, II United States District Judge

ORDER GRANTING PLANTIFF'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE THIRD AMENDED COMPLAINT [41]

I.INTRODUCTION

Pending before the Court is Plaintiff Knapp's March 26, 2012 Motion for Leave to File Third Amended Complaint. (Dkt. No. 41.) Defendant Calibre Systems, Inc. filed an Opposition on April 2, 2012, to which Plaintiff filed the Reply on April 9, 2012. (Dkt. Nos. 43, 44.) Having considered the papers filed in support of and in opposition to this motion, the Court deems the matter appropriate for decision without oral argument. Fed. R. Civ. P. 78; L.R. 7-15. For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's Motion.

II.FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Defendant contracted with the United States government to provide environmental and archaeological services for the Ft. Irwin National Training Center in California. (SAC ¶ 11.) Defendant's contract required its compliance with sections 106 and 110 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1996 ("NHPA"), as well as other related regulations. (SAC ¶ 11.)

Plaintiff worked for Defendant at the Ft. Irwin site as an Analyst member of the Environment Program Management Directorate. (SAC ¶¶ 14--16.) During the course of her employment, Plaintiff learned that Defendant regularly ignored the NHPA and related regulations and chose to proceed with projects on sites that should have been preserved for historic values, in an attempt to secure future contracts with the government. (SAC ¶¶ 16--18.) In March 2009, Plaintiff expressed her concerns regarding Defendant's NHPA violations to two government agencies. (SAC ¶¶ 20-- 21.) Plaintiff alleges Defendant ultimately terminated her employment as a result. (SAC ¶¶ 29--35.)

Thereafter, Plaintiff instituted this action under the False Claims Act on June 17, 2010. (Dkt. No. 1.) The United States declined to intervene in the action, and the case continued with Plaintiff as a Relator. (Dkt. No. 10.) On July 25, 2011, the Court granted Defendant's motion to dismiss the sixth claim of the Complaint with leave to amend. (Dkt. No. 20.) Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint on August 8, 2011. (Dkt. No. 21.) On October 17, 2011, the Court granted in part and denied in part Defendant's motion to dismiss Plaintiff's FAC. (Dkt. No. 27.) Plaintiff filed her Second Amended Complaint ("SAC") on October 31, 2011, alleging (1) violation of the False Claims Act ("FCA"), 31 U.S.C. § 3729; (2) violation of the anti-retaliation provision of the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. § 3730(h); (3) wrongful termination in violation of public policy; (4) violation of California Labor Code sections 1102.5 and 98.6; and (5) intentional infliction of emotional distress. (Dkt. No. 28.) Following Defendant's refusal to stipulate to Plaintiff's request to for leave to file a Third Amended Complaint ("TAC"), Plaintiff now moves the Court for leave to amend her SAC, seeking to add information learned through discovery to clarify her claims.

III.LEGAL STANDARD

Rule 15(a)(2) provides that leave to amend a complaint should be "freely given when justice so requires." Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2); Moss v. U.S. Secret Serv., 572 F.3d 962, 972 (9th Cir. 2009). Rule 15 is "to be applied with extreme liberality." Eminence Capital, LLC v. Aspeon, Inc., 316 F.3d 1048, 1051 (9th Cir. 2003). The decision whether to permit leave to amend rests in the sound discretion of the trial court. Swanson v. U.S. Forest Serv., 87 F.3d 339, 343 (9th Cir. 1996); California v. Neville Chem. Co., 358 F.3d 661, 673 (9th Cir. 2004).

The party opposing the amendment carries the burden of showing why leave to amend should not be granted. DCD Programs, Ltd. v. Leighton, 833 F.2d 183, 186-- 187 (9th Cir. 1987). Leave to amend should be freely granted unless the opposing party can show reason for denial, considering four common factors: undue delay, prejudice to the opposing party, bad faith or dilatory motive, and futility of amendment. Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962); Ditto v. McCurdy, 510 F.3d 1070, 1079 (9th Cir. 2007).

IV.DISCUSSION

Plaintiff's proposed amendments include three categories of new allegations regarding Defendant's fraudulent scheme: (1) explicit allegations that Defendant defrauded the United States government by expressly or impliedly representing to the government that the work Defendant performed complied with the NHPA and the National Environmental Protection Act ("NEPA"); (2) allegations concerning Defendant's fraudulent inducement of its contracts with the United States government; and (3) allegations that Defendant presented an inflated bid price for a bridge contract. (Mot. 3--5.)

Defendant opposes Plaintiff's amendment on the grounds of undue delay and substantial prejudice. The ...


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