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Sarkizi v. Graham Packaging Co.

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 3, 2014

SARGIS SARKIZI, Plaintiff,
v.
GRAHAM PACKAGING COMPANY and Does 1-25, Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO AMEND

SHEILA K. OBERTO, Magistrate Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

On May 1, 2014, Plaintiff Sargis Sarkizi ("Plaintiff") filed a motion for leave to file a first amended complaint ("FAC"). (Doc. 22.) On May 14, 2014, Defendants Graham Packaging Company and Does 1-25 ("Defendants") filed an opposition to Plaintiff's motion. (Doc. 23.) Plaintiff filed a reply to the opposition on May 28, 2014. (Doc. 24.)

The Court has reviewed the motion and supporting documents and determined that this matter is suitable for decision without oral argument pursuant to Local Rule 230(g). For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's motion to file a FAC is GRANTED.

II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On July 31, 2013, Plaintiff filed a complaint against Defendants in the Superior Court of California in Stanislaus County, alleging four causes of action related to his termination of employment by Defendants in August of 2011. (Doc. 1.) Plaintiff brought claims for wrongful termination in violation of public policy, violation of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. On September 6, 2013, Defendants removed the case to the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California. (Doc. 1.)

III. DISCUSSION

The parties participated in a scheduling conference with the Court on January 30, 2014. The Court issued a scheduling order on February 10, 2014, which provides that "[a]ny motions or stipulations requesting leave to amend the pleadings must be filed by no later than April 30, 2014." (Doc. 19, 3.) The parties were advised that "[a]ll proposed amendments must (A) be supported by good cause pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b) if the amendment requires any modification to the existing schedule... and (B) establish, under Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a), that such an amendment is not (1) prejudicial to the opposing party, (2) the product of undue delay, (3) proposed in bad faith, or (4) futile." (Doc. 19, 3:11-16 (citations omitted).)

A. Plaintiff Exhibited Diligence and Good Cause as Required under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16(b)

1. Legal Standard

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16(b) provides that the district court must issue a scheduling order that limits the time to join other parties, amend the pleadings, complete discovery, and file motions. Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(1)-(3). Once in place, "[a] schedule may be modified only for good cause and with the judge's consent." Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(4). The "good cause" requirement of Rule 16 primarily considers the diligence of the party seeking the amendment. Johnson v. Mammoth Recreations, Inc., 975 F.2d 604, 609 (9th Cir. 1992). "The district court may modify the pretrial schedule if it cannot reasonably be met despite the diligence of the party seeking the extension." Id. (internal citation and quotation marks omitted).

Good cause may be found to exist where the moving party shows, for example, that it: (1) diligently assisted the court in recommending and creating a workable scheduling order, see In re San Juan Dupont Plaza Hotel Fire Litig., 111 F.3d 220, 228 (1st Cir. 1997), (2) is unable to comply with the deadlines contained in the scheduling order due to issues not reasonably foreseeable at the time of the scheduling order, see Johnson, 975 F.3d at 609, and (3) was diligent in seeking an amendment once the party reasonably knew that it could not comply with the scheduling order, see Eckert Cold Storage, Inc. v. Behl, 943 F.Supp. 1230, 1233 (E.D. Cal. 1996); see also Jackson v. Laureate, Inc., 186 F.R.D. 605, 608 (E.D. Cal. 1999). "If [the] party was not diligent, the inquiry should end." Johnson, 975 F.2d at 609. If the Court finds that there is good cause to modify the schedule, the court then turns to Rule 15(a) to determine whether the amendment sought should be granted. Jackson, 186 F.R.D. at 607 ("As the Ninth Circuit explained in [ Johnson ], once the district court has filed a pretrial scheduling order pursuant to Rule 16 which establishes a timetable for amending pleadings, a motion seeking to amend pleadings is governed first by Rule 16(b), and only secondarily by Rule 15(a).").

2. Analysis

Because a scheduling order was issued in this action (Doc. 19), the "schedule may be modified only for good cause and with the judge's consent." Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(4). Whether good cause exists to modify a scheduling order rests on whether the party seeking the modification has been diligent. See Johnson, 975 F.2d at 609. Here, Plaintiff did not file this motion within the time constraints set forth by the Court in the scheduling order (Doc. 19, 2:9-11), which set a deadline of April 30, 2014; Plaintiff instead filed the motion on May 1, 2014. Despite Plaintiff's failure to request a modification to the scheduling order or address why his motion was not timely filed, the Court finds good cause to modify the scheduling order.

Plaintiff seeks to amend the complaint based on information contained in Plaintiff's employee file, received April 28, 2014, which provides new statutory bases for Plaintiff's claims. (Doc. 22-1, 7; Doc. 24, 2-3.) Plaintiff's counsel made clear during the meet and confer discussions prior to the parties' scheduling conference that Plaintiff reserved the right to amend pleadings if information uncovered during discovery suggested amendment would be necessary. (Doc. 22-1, Ex. 2, 3.) On March 10, 2013, Plaintiff served Defendants with written discovery requests. (Doc. 22-1, 5.) On April 1, 2014, Defendants requested an extension to respond to discovery, which Plaintiff granted. Id. In the same email granting Defendants' request for a discovery extension, Plaintiff requested that Defendants supply a courtesy copy of Plaintiff's employee file. (Doc. 22-1, Ex. 3, 1.) However, Defendants did not provide the file until April 28, 2014. (Doc. 22-1, 5.) Plaintiff was thereafter unable to obtain a stipulation from Defendants' counsel allowing amendment to the complaint. (Doc. 22-1, 2.) As such, Plaintiff filed the instant motion on May 1, 2014, seeking leave to file a FAC one day after the deadline for the parties to seek amendment to the pleadings as set forth in the Court's scheduling order.

In opposition, Defendants note that Plaintiff filed the motion on May 1, 2014, but dated the motion April 30, 2014, in the body of the pleading and in the proof of service. (Doc. 23. 9) Defendants correctly note Plaintiff's motion was untimely ...


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