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Robert Half International Inc. v. Ainsworth

United States District Court, S.D. California

July 15, 2015

ROBERT HALF INTERNATIONAL, INC., a Delaware corporation, Plaintiff,
v.
ERIC SHANE AINSWORTH, an individual; LISA LYNN ALDAVA, an individual; SERENA MAI GREENWOOD, an individual; RUBEN D. HERNANDEZ, an individual; DEANA H. SCHWEITZER, an individual; CATHERINE S. SHERMAN, an individual; and DOES 1 through 20, Defendants.

ORDER

WILLIAM Q. HAYES, District Judge.

The matters before the Court are: (1) the motion for leave to file amended counterclaims (ECF Nos. 33, 37) filed by Defendants; (2) the motion to file documents under seal (ECF No. 31) filed by Defendants; (3) the motion to file documents under seal (ECF No. 41) filed by Plaintiff; and (4) the motion for leave to file first amended complaint and to amend scheduling order (ECF No. 43) filed by Plaintiff.

I. Background

On September 23, 2014, Plaintiff Robert Half International Inc. ("RHI") commenced this action by filing a Complaint in San Diego County Superior Court. (ECF No. 1-1). The Complaint alleges that Defendants, Plaintiff's former employees, breached their respective employment agreements and engaged in unfair competition after terminating employment with Plaintiff and going to work for competitors. The Complaint alleges that Defendants violated Paragraph Thirteen of their respective employment agreements by "touting [their] RHI experience and background for [their] new employer[s'] benefit."[1] (ECF No. 1-1 at 16, 21, 25, 27). The Complaint asserts claims for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, tortious interference with prospective economic advantage, violation of the Lanham Act, violation of California Business & Professions Code section 17200, and common law unfair competition.

On October 17, 2014, Defendants Eric Ainsworth, Lisa Aldava, Serena Greenwood, Ruben Hernandez, Jr., Deana Schweitzer, and Catherine Sherman removed the action to this Court on the basis of federal question jurisdiction. (ECF No. 1). On October 23, 2014, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss the Complaint. (ECF No. 6). On December 17, 2014, the Court issued an Order, granting in part and denying in part the motion to dismiss. (ECF No. 10). The Court dismissed Plaintiff's second, eighth, ninth, twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth claims for breaches of contract and breaches of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing "only to the extent these claims seek to enforce Paragraph Thirteen of the employment agreements." Id. at 23. The Court found that "the Complaint fails to allege sufficient facts plausibly suggestive of a claim entitling the plaintiff to relief' for breach of Paragraph 13, i.e., facts showing that Paragraph 13 is enforceable." Id. at 10 (citation omitted). The Court dismissed Plaintiff's sixth and tenth claims for tortious interference with prospective economic advantage as displaced by the California Uniform Trade Secrets Act.

On December 30, 2014, Defendants filed an Answer (ECF No. 12) and Counterclaims for Breach of Contract and Unfair Competition (ECF No. 13). On January 23, 2015, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Dismiss Counterclaims for Breach of Contract and Unfair Competition or, in the Alternative, for a More Definite Statement. (ECF No. 19). On March 16, 2015, the Court issued an Order granting the motion to dismiss. (ECF No. 28). The Court found that Defendants had failed to allege sufficient facts to state plausible breach of contract and unfair competition claims. The Court granted Defendants thirty days to file a motion for leave to file amended counterclaims.

On February 11, 2015, United States Magistrate Judge David Bartick issued a Scheduling Order, giving the parties until May 13, 2015, to file "[a]ny motion to join other parties, to amend the pleadings, or to file additional pleadings...." (ECF No. 25 at 1).

On April 15 and 16, 2015, Defendants filed the motion for leave to file amended counterclaims, accompanied by the motion to file documents under seal. (ECF Nos. 33, 34, 37). On May 12, 2015, Plaintiff filed an opposition. (ECF No. 41). On May 13, 2015, Plaintiff filed the motion to file documents under seal. (ECF No. 41). On May 19, 2015, Defendants filed a reply. (ECF No. 45).

On May 13, 2015, Plaintiff filed the motion for leave to file a first amended complaint and to amend scheduling order. (ECF No. 43). On June 1, 2015, Defendants filed a response. (ECF No. 50). On June 8, 2015, Plaintiff filed a reply. (ECF No. 53).

II. Discussion

A. Defendants' Motion for Leave to File Amended Counterclaims (ECF Nos. 33, 37)

Defendants request leave to file amended counterclaims. Defendants assert that Plaintiff agrees that amendment is appropriate, based on Plaintiff's contentions in its motion to dismiss Defendants' counterclaims. Defendants contend that their proposed amended counterclaims include more factual allegations. Plaintiff contends that amendment would be futile because Defendants have failed to establish standing pursuant to California Business and Professions Code section 17200.

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15 mandates that leave to amend "be freely given when justice so requires." Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a). "This policy is to be applied with extreme liberality." Eminence Capital, LLC v. Aspeon, Inc., 316 F.3d 1048, 1051 (9th Cir. 2003) (quotation omitted). In determining whether to allow an amendment, a court considers whether there is "undue delay, " "bad faith, " "undue prejudice to the opposing party, " or "futility of amendment." Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962). "Not all of the [ Foman ] factors merit equal weight.... [I]t is the consideration of prejudice to the opposing party that carries the greatest weight." Eminence Capital, 316 F.3d at 1052 (citation omitted). "The party opposing amendment bears the burden of showing prejudice." DCD Programs, Ltd. v. Leighton, 833 F.2d 183, 187 (9th Cir. 1987). "Absent 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." Eminence Capital, 316 F.3d at 1052.

After review of the motion for leave to file amended counterclaims and all related filings, the Court concludes that Plaintiff has not made a sufficiently strong showing of the Foman factors to overcome the presumption under Rule 15(a) in favor of granting leave to amend. See Eminence Capital, ...


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