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Knudsen v. City and County of San Francisco

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

December 2, 2013

SONYA KNUDSEN, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO, et al., Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR LEAVE TO AMEND ANSWER Re: ECF No. 61

JON S. TIGAR, District Judge.

In this action for employment discrimination and retaliation in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Fair Employment and Housing Act ("FEHA"), Defendants move for leave to amend the answer. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is GRANTED.

I. BACKGROUND

A. The Parties and Claims

Plaintiff Sonya Knudsen is an employee of Defendant the City and County of San Francisco ("the City"). First Am. Compl. ("FAC") ¶ 3. Knudsen brings this action against Defendants the City, John Martin, and Blake Summers for claims arising out of Defendants' alleged failure to promote Knudsen on three different occasions on account of her gender and disabilities, as well as their purported failure to provide her with reasonable accommodations in light of her disabilities. Id . ¶ 36.

Knudsen asserts the following claims in the FAC: (1) a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; (2) a claim under § 1983 for retaliation in violation of the First Amendment; (3) gender discrimination in violation of FEHA; (4) disability discrimination in violation of FEHA; and (5) retaliation in violation of FEHA.

B. Procedural History

Knudsen filed the FAC on January 25, 2013. ECF No. 33. Defendants filed an answer to the FAC on March 25, 2013. ECF No. 39. Discovery closed on September 27, 2013. ECF No. 46.

C. Jurisdiction

The Court has jurisdiction over this action under 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

III. LEGAL STANDARD[1]

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a) permits a party to amend a pleading once "as a matter of course" within 21 days of serving it or within 21 days after a response to it has been filed. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1). Otherwise, "a party may amend its pleading only with the opposing party's written consent or the court's leave." Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). A district court "should freely give leave" to amend a pleading "when justice so requires." Id . "Four factors are commonly used to determine the propriety of a motion for leave to amend. These are: bad faith, undue delay, prejudice to the opposing party, and futility of amendment." DCD Programs, Ltd. v. Leighton , 833 F.2d 183, 186 (9th Cir. 1987) (citation omitted). "Not all of the factors merit equal weight... it is the consideration of prejudice to the opposing party that carries the greatest weight." Eminence Capital, LLC v. Aspeon, Inc. , 316 F.3d 1048, 1052 (9th Cir. 2003). "The party opposing amendment bears the burden of showing prejudice." DCD Programs , 833 F.2d at 187. Generally, a court must make the determination of whether to grant leave "with all inferences in favor of granting the motion." Griggs v. Pace Am. Grp., Inc. , 170 F.3d 877, 880 (9th Cir. 1999).

IV. DISCUSSION

Defendants move to amend their answer to add four new defenses, namely (1) that "all of Defendants' actions were taken in good faith;" (2) that "Plaintiff's claim falls outside of the applicable the statute of limitations;" (3) that "Plaintiff failed to exhaust administrative remedies, " and (4) that "Plaintiff's damages, if any, should be limited by the doctrine of after acquired evidence." ECF No. 61 at 3. Defendants argue that these defenses were "were inadvertently excluded" from the operative answer. Id . Defendants further argue that the proposed amendment would not prejudice Knudsen because the new defenses are "based on facts and theories already developed in the case, " and because Defendants will stipulate to permit Knudsen to take additional discovery pertaining to the new defenses. Id. at 3-4. Additionally, Defendants contend that the after-acquired evidence defense is based on "previously unknown ...


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