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Heath v. Google Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division

July 29, 2016

ROBERT HEATH, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
GOOGLE INC., Defendant.

          ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF ROBERT HEATH'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT [RE: ECF 65]

          BETH LABSON FREEMAN United States District Judge

         In this age discrimination action, Plaintiff Robert Heath moves to file a second amended complaint to re-assert his claim for age discrimination under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) as a Rule 23 class claim. Mot., ECF 65. For the reasons stated below, the Court DENIES Heath’s motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In April 2015, Heath filed his original complaint asserting age discrimination under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and FEHA. Compl., ECF 1. He pled both claims on behalf of himself and a nationwide Rule 23 class. Compl. ¶ 39. In addition, he asserted the ADEA claim as a collective action. Compl. at 21 ¶ m.

         In June 2015, Defendant Google Inc. filed a motion to dismiss. ECF 16. In response, Heath filed a first amended complaint that omitted any allegations concerning a Rule 23 class claim under FEHA. FAC ¶¶ 51-52, ECF 18. The FAC also joined Cheryl Fillikes as a plaintiff. FAC, ECF 18.

         In September 2015, the Court conducted an initial case management conference, ECF 30, and thereafter, approved, as amended, the parties' stipulated scheduling order, ECF 35. This order set January 11, 2016 as the last day to amend pleadings or add parties except for good cause. Id. at 2.

         In December 2015, Plaintiffs filed a motion to continue the deadlines in the scheduling order by 60 days, which Google partially opposed. ECF 39. The Court granted the motion in part and continued the deadline to file amended pleadings to March 11, 2016 absent good cause. ECF 41 at 2.

         In February 2016, the parties filed a stipulated request to continue the deadlines associated with briefing a motion for conditional certification but they did not seek to continue the deadline to file an amended pleading. ECF 52. The Court held a telephone conference with the parties to discuss its concerns with the proposed stipulation, and after the parties failed to file any discovery disputes or a newly proposed schedule taking into account the Court's comments, the Court denied the request. ECF 63.

         On March 25, 2016, Heath's counsel emailed Google seeking a stipulation to file a second amended complaint. Exh. 1 to Mclnerney Decl. to Opp., ECF 68-1 . That e-mail stated that Heath intended to file the motion seeking leave to file a second amended complaint that weekend. Id.

         On April 25, 2016, one month after Heath sought Google's agreement to file a second amended complaint, and 45 days after the March 11, 2016 deadline to file amended pleadings absent good cause, Heath filed the instant motion. ECF 65. The proposed SAC does not include amended allegations on behalf of Fillikes. Exh. A to Patton Decl. to Mot., ECF 65-1. However, Fillikes does not oppose Heath's motion to file a SAC. ECF 66.

         II. DISCUSSION

         The parties appear[1] to disagree over the appropriate legal standard governing this motion. Heath appears to argue that his request for leave to file a second amended complaint should be governed by Fed.R.Civ.P. 15. Mot. 4, ECF 65. Google argues that Fed.R.Civ.P. 16 provides the applicable legal standard. Opp. 4, ECF 67.

         In general, a motion to amend is subject to Rule 15, which provides that “[t]he court should freely give leave [to amend] when justice so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). However, “[o]nce the district court ha[s] filed a pretrial scheduling order pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16[, ] which establishe[s] a timetable for amending pleadings[, ] that rule’s standards control[ ].” Johnson v. Mammoth Recreations, Inc., 975 F.2d 604, 607-08 (9th Cir.1992).

         The instant motion is governed by Rule 16 because the Court issued an initial scheduling order in September 2015, ECF 35, and modified the dates in December 2015, ECF 42. Both orders explicitly specified that pleadings may not be amended beyond a certain date except for good cause. ECF 35, 42. The December 2015 scheduling order set the last day to amend pleadings to March 11, 2016. Id. ...


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