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Arrieta v. County of Kern

United States District Court, E.D. California

April 8, 2015

FRANCISCO ARRIETA, et al., Plaintiffs,


JENNIFER L. THURSTON, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiffs seek leave to amend the Court's scheduling order to file a Second Amended Complaint in the action. (Doc. 44.) Defendants oppose modification of the Court's Order. (Doc. 46.) The Court found the motion suitable for decision without oral argument, and took the matter under submission pursuant to Local Rule 230(g). (Doc. 49.) Because the Court finds Plaintiffs fail to demonstrate good cause for amending the scheduling order, the motion to amend is DENIED.

I. Background

Plaintiffs initiated this action by filing a complaint on March 21, 2014. (Doc. 1.) Plaintiffs allege they were at Kern Medical Center around midnight on May 7, 2013, "when they observed unknown and unidentified Kern County Sheriff deputies hitting an unrelated third man with their batons across the street." (Doc. 32 at 7, ¶ 16.) Plaintiffs Francisco Arrieta and Maria Melendez "used their cell phones to record the acts of the deputies." ( Id., ¶ 17.) Plaintiffs allege that approximately two hours later, "Defendants Kern County Sherriff's Department Deputy Enrique Bravo and Kern County Sherriff's Department Detective Rutledge, and Does 1 through 50" went to the apartment of Melissa Quair, demanded to enter and forced their way into the apartment, and "demanded Plaintiff Francisco Arrietta's cell phone that he used to record the violent encounter." ( Id. at 7-8, ¶¶ 17, 21.) Mr. Arrieta resisted turning over the phone because it contained "intimate and personal information, " but offered to allow Defendants to "make a copy of the video encounter on his phone as long as it was done at that moment in his presence." ( Id. at 8, ¶ 23.)

According to Plaintiffs, the deputies refused to leave "until they got the cell phone, " and refused to allow anyone else to leave, including Mr. Arrieta, Sulina Quair, Laura Vasquez, and Melissa Quair. (Doc. 32 at 9, ¶¶ 27-29.) Plaintiffs allege the deputies were in the apartment for "a minimum of four hours, " during which time they "would walk up to Plaintiffs Francisco Arrieta, Sulina Quair, Laura Vasquez, and Melissa Quair and without Plaintiffs' consent push, shove, and/or elbow each of them back into their seats while yelling, and threatening Plaintiffs... to not move, not stand up, and keep sitting." ( Id. at 11-12, ¶ 34, 36, 39.) In addition, Plaintiffs allege the deputies went through the personal belongings of Ms. Quair, "including but not limited to her purse, drawers, and/or bedroom." ( Id. at 12, ¶ 37.) Plaintiffs allege that ultimately, the deputies "unlawfully seized and left with Plaintiff Francisco Arietta's cell phone." ( Id. at 12-13 ¶ 39.)

Further, Plaintiffs allege that Maria Melendez and T.A. came to the apartment later in the morning, where they were "immediately confronted" by the deputies, who ordered Ms. Melendez "to turn [over] the cell phone she used to record the prior night's beating of Mr. Silva by the Kern County Sherriff's deputies." (Doc. 32 at 13, ¶ 40-41.) Ms. Melendez refused, "stating she did not want to turn her cell phone over because her cell phone has all of her personal contacts, pictures, text messages, and videos, " and expressed concern that the video would get erased and/or destroyed." ( Id. at 13-14, ¶ 43.) Plaintiffs allege that during this encounter, Plaintiffs Sulina Quair and Laura Vasquez arrived and walked toward the apartment. ( Id. at 14, ¶ 44.) However, the deputies ordered them "to stop and not move.'" ( Id. ) Further, Plaintiffs assert the deputies would not permit anyone to leave the apartment "for a minimum of two hours." ( Id. at 14-16, ¶¶ 45, 49.) Plaintiffs allege the deputies "finally obtained a search warrant and left with Plaintiff Maria Melendez' cell phone." ( Id. at 17, ¶ 52.)

Plaintiffs assert that Mr. Arrieta and Ms. Melendez received their phones "more than a week later." (Doc. 32 at 17-18, ¶¶56-57.) Mr. Arrieta reports that when the phone was returned, "all of his pictures, contacts, and some of the video depicting the beating of Mr. Silva was erased." (Doc. 32 at 18, ¶ 56.) Similarly, Ms. Melendez asserts that "all of her pictures, contacts, and all of the video depicting the beating of Mr. Silva was erased." ( Id., ¶ 57.)

Based upon the foregoing facts, Plaintiffs assert the defendants are liable for violations of their civil rights arising under both the Constitution of the United States and California law, false arrest and/or imprisonment, assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, general negligence, conversion, civil conspiracy, and invasion of privacy. ( See generally Doc. 32.) Defendants filed their answer to the First Amended Complaint on August 18, 2014. (Doc. 36.)

The Court held a scheduling conference with the parties on August 27, 2014. (Doc. 39.) The Court ordered the parties to make initial disclosures no later than September 12, 2014. ( Id. at 1.) In addition, "[a]ny requested pleading amendments [were] ordered to be filed, either through a stipulation or motion to amend, no later than November 24, 2014." ( Id. at 9, emphasis omitted.)

Plaintiffs filed the motion now pending before the Court, seeking leave to amend the scheduling order to permit the filing of an amended complaint, on March 5, 2015. (Doc. 44.) Defendants filed their opposition on March 19, 2015 (Doc. 46), to which Plaintiffs filed a reply on March 30, 2015. (Doc. 48.)

II. Legal Standards

Districts courts must enter scheduling orders in actions to "limit the time to join other parties, amend the pleadings, complete discovery, and file motions." Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(3). In addition, scheduling orders may "modify the timing of disclosures" and "modify the extent of discovery." Id. Once entered by the court, a scheduling order "controls the course of the action unless the court modifies it." Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(d). Scheduling orders are intended to alleviate case management problems. Johnson v. Mammoth Recreations, Inc., 975 F.2d 604, 610 (9th Cir. 1992). As such, a scheduling order is "the heart of case management." Koplove v. Ford Motor Co., 795 F.2d 15, 18 (3rd Cir. 1986).

Further, scheduling orders are "not a frivolous piece of paper, idly entered, which can be cavalierly disregarded by counsel without peril." Johnson, 975 F.2d at 610 (quoting Gestetner Corp. v. Case Equip. Co., 108 F.R.D. 138, 141 (D. Maine 1985)). Good cause must be shown for modification of the scheduling order. Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(4). The Ninth Circuit explained:

Rule 16(b)'s "good cause" standard primarily considers the diligence of the party seeking the amendment. The district court may modify the pretrial schedule if it cannot reasonably be met despite the diligence of the party seeking the extension. Moreover, carelessness is not compatible with a finding of diligence and offers no reason for a grant of relief. Although existence of a degree of prejudice to the party opposing the modification might supply additional reasons to deny a motion, the ...

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