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Biscotti v. City of Yuba City

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 29, 2016




         Presently before the Court is Plaintiffs Matthew Biscotti and Christian Biscotti’s (“Plaintiffs”) Motion for Leave to File a First Amended Complaint (FAC) (Doc. #51). This case arises out of the fatal shooting of Plaintiffs’ mother, Victoria (Matthews) Rogers-Vasselin (“Decedent”), by Yuba City Police Officers on May 20, 2010. Defendants City of Yuba City, Officer David Kraus, Officer David Santanna, and Chief Robert D. Landon (“Defendants”) oppose this motion to amend (Doc. #55). Plaintiffs filed a reply brief in support of their motion (Doc. #57) but raised new arguments in this brief. The Court therefore permitted Defendants to file a sur-reply brief (Doc. #61). Having carefully considered the parties’ arguments, the Court denies Plaintiffs’ motion for the reasons set forth below.[1]


         Plaintiffs filed this wrongful death lawsuit on May 18, 2011. The Complaint alleged the following four claims: (1) violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process provision; (2) violation of civil rights (Monell claim); (3) supervisory liability; and (4) negligence. See Compl. On January 13, 2012, the Court issued a Status (Pre-trial Scheduling) Order (PTSO) (Doc. #11) which states: “No further joinder of parties or amendments to pleadings is permitted except with leave of court, good cause having been shown.” The PTSO set a discovery completion date of February 27, 2013.

         On April 3, 2013, Defendants moved for summary judgment on all of Plaintiffs’ claims (Doc. #17), and on May 15, 2013, the Court granted summary judgment in Defendants’ favor on all claims (Doc. #36). Plaintiffs appealed this decision to the Ninth Circuit. On January 27, 2016, the Ninth Circuit, in an unpublished opinion, affirmed in part and reversed in part this Court’s Order granting summary judgment for Defendants (Doc. #46) and remanded only the negligence claim back to this Court for jury trial. The mandate issued on February 23, 2016. (Doc. #47)

         Nearly three months later, on May 13, 2016, Plaintiffs filed this Motion to Amend the Complaint seeking to add a claim under California’s Bane Act, a battery claim, and a Fourth Amendment excessive force claim. (Doc. #51) Plaintiffs’ proposed amended complaint named an additional defendant, Officer Wolfe, however, in Plaintiffs’ reply brief they agree to “withdraw all proposed claims as stated against Officer Wolfe in the proposed First Amended Complaint.” Pls.’ Reply 2:3-6 (Doc. #57) Plaintiffs’ new claims are based on the Decedent’s alleged temporary post-shooting survival. Plaintiffs thus seek to shift the primary theory of their case from a wrongful death action to a survivor action. Defendants oppose this motion arguing that Plaintiffs have failed to and cannot demonstrate good cause and that they will be unduly prejudiced if Plaintiffs’ motion is granted.

         I. OPINION

         A. Legal Standard

         In their motion, Plaintiffs rely on the standard set out in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (“Rule”) 15(a)(2), which provides: “[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. 15(a)(2). However, the Court has already issued a PTSO in this matter specifying amendments to the pleadings require a showing of good cause.

         Although Rule “15(a) liberally allows for amendments to pleadings, ” Coleman v. Quaker Oats Co., 232 F.3d 1271, 1294 (9th Cir. 2000), this policy does not apply after a district court has issued “a pretrial scheduling order that established a timetable for amending the pleadings, and the deadline ha[s] expired.” Id. Rather, parties seeking to amend their pleadings “must show good cause for not having amended their complaints before the time specified in the scheduling order expired.” Id. “This standard ‘primarily considers the diligence of the party seeking the amendment.’” Id. (quoting Johnson v. Mammoth Recreations, Inc., 975 F.2d 604, 609 (9th Cir. 1992)).

         If good cause exists, parties next must satisfy Rule 15(a). Cf. Johnson, 975 F.2d at 608. As stated, Rule 15(a)(2) makes clear that courts should “freely give leave when justice so requires, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2), and the Ninth Circuit has noted that the policy is one “to be applied with extreme liberality, ” Morongo Band of Mission Indians v. Rose, 893 F.2d 1074, 1079 (9th Cir. 1990). In exercising their discretion to permit or deny a party to amend its pleading, Ninth Circuit courts consider five factors: (1) whether the amendment was filed with undue delay; (2) whether the movant has requested the amendment in bad faith or as a dilatory tactic; (3) whether the movant was allowed to make previous amendments which failed to correct deficiencies in the complaint; (4) whether the amendment will unduly prejudice the opposing party; and (5) whether the amendment would be futile. Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962). Whether amendment will unduly prejudice the opposing party is the most important factor in a court’s analysis under Rule 15(a). Eminence Capital, LLC v. Aspeon, Inc., 316 F.3d 1048, 1052 (9th Cir. 2003).

         B. Analysis

         1. Rule 16

         In Plaintiffs’ opening brief in support of their motion, they completely fail to acknowledge that the proposed amendment is brought after the Court’s amendment deadline and is subject to Rule 16’s good cause requirement. Recognizing this error (after receiving Defendants’ opposition brief), Plaintiffs acknowledge in their reply brief that their request to amend is subject to Rule 16’s good cause requirement. Plaintiffs contend that they have satisfied the good cause requirement because “there was insufficient evidence then possessed to state the proposed causes of action in the original [c]omplaint.” Reply 2:27-3:1. Plaintiffs further argue that “during the course of litigation, evidence was discovered that ultimately led Plaintiffs and their counsel to conclude that these additional causes of action were in fact meritorious.” Id. at 3:2-3. Due to the timing of the ...

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