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Curtis v. Home Depot U.S.A., Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. California

April 11, 2014

ALBERT GEORGE CURTIS, Plaintiff,
v.
HOME DEPOT U.S.A., Inc., et al., Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO AMEND COMPLAINT (Doc. 18)

GARY S. AUSTIN, Magistrate Judge.

I.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Albert George Curtis ("Plaintiff") brought this action against Defendants Home Depot U.S.A., Inc. and HD Development of Maryland, Inc. ("Defendants") under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq., and related California disability laws. Plaintiff, who is physically disabled and uses a wheelchair, alleges that he visited a Home Depot store ("Store") owned and/or operated by Defendants, on several occasions. Doc. 2, ¶¶ 7-10. Each time, his full and equal enjoyment of the facilities, goods and services offered by the Store was allegedly impeded by the lack of an accessible travel route from the designated disabled parking space to the Store's entrances in violation of the ADA. Doc. 2, ¶ 10. Plaintiff seeks, inter alia, an injunction under the ADA requiring the Store to remove barriers to access related to his disability and monetary damages pursuant to provisions of California law. Doc. 2 at 8.

Pending before the Court is Plaintiff's motion to amend his original complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a). Plaintiff seeks to amend his complaint to include allegations that the Store has additional barriers to access related to Plaintiff's disabilities beyond those identified in the original complaint. Doc. 18-2, ¶ 11. Plaintiff's original complaint included only barriers that Plaintiff personally encountered when visiting the Store. Doc. 2. ¶ 10. The additional barriers Plaintiff now seeks to include were identified pursuant to a site-inspection conducted after the filing of the original complaint. Doc. 18-1 at 2.

Plaintiff filed his original complaint on July 24, 2013. Doc. 2. The Court's scheduling order thereafter set a deadline of January 10, 2014 for any amendments to the pleadings. Doc. 17. Plaintiff filed the instant motion to amend the complaint on January 10, 2014. Doc. 18. Defendants filed an opposition on January 31, 2014. Doc. 20. Plaintiff filed a reply on February 7, 2014. Doc. 23. The matter was set for hearing on March 7, 2014, but was taken under submission on the papers pursuant to Local Rule 230(g).

For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's motion for leave to file a first amended complaint is GRANTED.

II.

LEGAL STANDARD

Rule 15 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs amendments to pleadings. Rule 15 provides that a complaint may be amended as a matter of course within 21 days after serving it or 21 days after service of a responsive pleading. Fed. R. Civ. P., Rule 15(a)(1)(A) and (B). Rule 15 further provides that "[i]n all other cases, a party may amend its pleading only with the opposing party's written consent or the court's leave. The Court should freely give leave when justice so requires." Fed. R. Civ. P., Rule 15(a)(2). As a general matter, courts apply Rule 15(a) with "extreme liberality." Eminence Capital, LLC v. Aspeon, Inc., 316 F.3d 1048, 1051 (9th Cir. 2003); also see DCD Programs Ltd. v. Leighton, 833 F.2d 183, 186 (9th Cir. 1987) ("[r]ule 15's policy of favoring amendments to pleadings should be applied with extreme liberality") (parentheses in original, internal quotation marks omitted).

In determining whether to grant leave to amend, courts consider a number of factors identified by the Supreme Court in Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178 (1962). These factors, known as the Foman factors, include (1) bad faith on the part of the movant; (2) undue delay or dilatory motive on the part of the movant; (3) repeated failure on the part of the movant to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed; (4) undue prejudice to the opposing party by virtue of allowance of the amendment; and (5) futility of the amendment. Eminence Capital, 316 F.3d at 1052; also see Griggs v. Pace. Amer. Group, Inc., 170 F.3d 877, 880 (9th Cir. 1999) (consideration of a motion to amend based on Foman factors "should generally be performed with all inferences in favor of granting the motion").

The Foman factors do not all merit equal weight. Rather, the Ninth Circuit has held that "it is the consideration of prejudice to the opposing party that carries the greatest weight, " such that "[p]rejudice is the touchstone of the inquiry under rule 15(a)." Eminence Capital, 316 F.3d at 1052 (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). Indeed, "[a]bsent prejudice, or a strong showing of any of the remaining Foman factors, there exists a presumption under Rule 15(a) in favor of granting leave to amend." Id. (emphasis in original); see also DCD Programs, 833 F.2d 186-87 (noting that the party opposing amendment "bears the burden of showing prejudice" and that "delay, by itself, is insufficient to justify denial of leave to amend").

III.

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