The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Michael M. Anello United States District Judge
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE THIRD AMENDED COMPLAINT [Doc. No. 84]
Presently before the Court is Plaintiff Jane Doe's ("Plaintiff") Motion for Leave to File a Third Amended Complaint. [Doc. No. 84.] The Court, in its discretion, took the matter under submission pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7.1(d)(1). Having considered the briefs, and for the reasons stated herein, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's motion.
On February 9, 2012, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in San Diego County Superior Court, naming the City of San Diego, Anthony Arevalos, Kevin Friedman, and Does 1 through 50 as defendants. [Doc. No. 1, Ex. 1.] Plaintiff later amended the Complaint to add William Lansdowne and David Bejarano as defendants. [Doc. No. 1, Ex. 4.] On March 21, 2012, Defendants filed a Notice of Removal with this Court, alleging proper subject matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. section 1331. [Doc. No. 1.]
Following a settlement conference on September 14, 2012, the Court issued a Scheduling Order which required "any motion to join other parties, to amend the pleadings, or to file additional pleadings" to be filed on or before October 13, 2012. [Doc. No. 34 at 1.] Subsequently, on September 18, 2012, Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint ("SAC") adding Rudy Tai and Danny Hollister as defendants. [Doc. No. 35.] On February 20, 2013, the Court granted a joint motion to amend the scheduling order which, among other things, extended the discovery cutoff date to August 1, 2013, but did not extend the already-passed deadline to amend pleadings. [Doc. No. 73.]
On March 15, 2013, Plaintiff filed the instant motion, seeking leave to file a Third Amended Complaint ("TAC") to add as defendants Max Verduzco, Victoria Binkerd, and Robert Kanaski. Verduzco and Binkerd were Defendant Arevalos' superiors in the San Diego Police Department at the time of a newly-alleged 2007 incident set forth in the proposed TAC at paragraph 19. Assistant Chief Kanaski was allegedly involved in a separate 2010 incident involving Arevalos, also detailed in paragraph 19 of the TAC. The proposed TAC contains identical causes of action as the SAC, but adds additional allegations of the supervisory involvement of the three additional defendants.
Plaintiff asserts that Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)*fn1 provides the proper legal standard for determination of this motion. [Mot. at 15.] Under Rule 15(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a party may amend the party's pleading once as a matter of course at any time before a responsive pleading is served. Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a). Otherwise, a party may amend only by leave of the court or by written consent of the adverse party, and leave shall be freely given when justice so requires. Id.
However, Rule 15 does not provide the initial standard under which the Court considers Plaintiff's request to amend her complaint. When, as here, a district court has entered a scheduling order setting a deadline to amend the pleadings, and a party moves to amend the pleadings after the deadline, the motion amounts to one to amend the scheduling order and thus is properly brought under Rule 16(b) rather than Rule 15. See Coleman v. Quaker Oats Co., 232 F.3d 1271, 1294 (9th Cir. 2000). "A schedule may be modified only for good cause and with the judge's consent." Fed. R. Civ. P. 16(b)(4). The decision to modify a scheduling order is within the broad discretion of the district court. Johnson v. Mammoth Recreations, Inc., 975 F.2d 604, 607 (9th Cir. 1992) (quoting Miller v. Safeco Title Ins. Co., 758 F.2d 364, 369 (9th Cir. 1985)).
The Court's Scheduling Order set forth a pleading amendment deadline of October 13, 2012. [Doc. No. 34 at 1.] The current motion was not filed until March 15, 2013. Thus, Plaintiff is required to demonstrate good cause under Rule 16 for filing an amended pleading five months past the deadline. See Coleman, 232 F.3d at 1294.
Under Rule 16(b)(4)'s good cause standard, the Court's primary focus is on the movant's diligence in seeking the amendment. Johnson, 975 F.2d at 609. "Good cause" exists if a party can demonstrate that the schedule "cannot reasonably be met despite the diligence of the party seeking the extension." Id. (citing Fed. R. Civ. P. 16 advisory committee's notes (1983 amendment)). "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." Id. (citations omitted). The party seeking to ...