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Evans v. Arizona Cardinals Football Club, LLC

United States District Court, N.D. California

February 21, 2017

ETOPIA EVANS, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
ARIZONA CARDINALS FOOTBALL CLUB, LLC, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER DENYING EXTENSION OF TIME TO FILE SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT

          WILLIAM ALSUP UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         INTRODUCTION

         Following partial dismissal of their first amended complaint, plaintiffs move for (1) an extension of time to file their second amended complaint, and (2) leave to add a new plaintiff and re-plead their RICO and conspiracy claims. The motion is Denied.

         STATEMENT

         The allegations underlying this action first touched down in this district in May 2014, when eight plaintiffs, represented by the same counsel and seeking to represent the same purported class as our plaintiffs here, sued the National Football League. In that case, Dent v. NFL, the first and second amended complaints added one plaintiff each, bringing the total to ten (Richard Dent, Jeremy Newberry, Roy Green, J.D. Hill, Keith Van Horne, Ron Stone, Ron Pritchard, James McMahon, Marcellus Wiley, and Jonathan Rex Hadnot, Jr.). The undersigned dismissed all claims - including for fraud, fraudulent concealment, negligent misrepresentation, negligence, and violations of substance control laws - as preempted by the Labor Management Relations Act. See Dent v. NFL, No. C 14-02324 WHA, 2014 WL 7205048 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 17, 2014). Plaintiffs' appeal from that dismissal remains pending.

         In May 2015, a new roster of 13 plaintiffs - Etopia Evans, Robert Massey, Troy Sadowski, Christopher Goode, Darryl Ashmore, Jerry Wunsch, Eric King, Alphonso Carreker, Steven Lofton, Duriel Harris, Jeffrey Graham, Mel Renfro, and Cedric Killings - filed this action asserting claims for intentional misrepresentation and conspiracy against the individual clubs of the NFL. A prior order denied defendants' first motion to dismiss (Dkt. No. 89). A case management order issued the same day, stating in part, “Leave to add any new parties or pleading amendments must be sought by October 31, 2016” (Dkt. No. 90 (bold and small caps in original)). On October 31, 2016, plaintiffs sought leave to file an amended complaint to (1) add RICO and concealment claims, (2) modify the class definition, and (3) add and remove plaintiffs (Dkt. No. 112). A subsequent order granted plaintiffs leave to do so by November 30, 2016 (Dkt. No. 122). The amended complaint substituted in plaintiff Reggie Walker, who played in the NFL from 2009 to 2014, for Mel Renfro, who played in the NFL from 1964 to 1977 (compare Dkt. No. 1 at 16 with Dkt. No. 136 at 9).

         Meanwhile, discovery continued. On January 26, at the hearing on defendants' motion to dismiss the amended complaint, plaintiffs' counsel claimed they had “conducted over 20 depositions, ” were “70 percent of the way through the documents, ” and could “amend [the complaint] to any degree of particularity” required (Dkt. No. 169 at 40:3-40:8, 44:7-44:16).

         On February 3, an order granted in part the motion to dismiss, stating (Dkt. No. 168 at 10):

[T]he amended complaint shows plaintiffs' RICO claim is barred by the statute of limitations. This order therefore does not reach additional arguments regarding the sufficiency of the pleading as to this claim, except that the amended complaint's failure to plead allegations showing a conspiracy is addressed below within the context of plaintiffs' conspiracy claim.

         Within the context of plaintiffs' conspiracy claim, the order then stated, “The amended complaint contains no well-pled allegations of any conspiracy between clubs” (id. at 19). Thus, the order concluded (ibid.):

Leave to amend the RICO claim is denied as futile because plaintiffs have already had ample opportunity to investigate and plead a timely claim under RICO. If, as discovery proceeds in this matter, evidence surfaces indicating the existence of a conspiracy, or indicating that some clubs lied to plaintiffs, then the Court will at least consider allowing plaintiffs to amend their complaint to re-add a conspiracy claim. Otherwise, generous opportunity to shore up the complaint having already been given, further leave to amend is not warranted as to this claim.

         The order gave plaintiffs until February 22 to file their second amended complaint. To allow time for both the amendment and defendants' response thereto, the order also continued the deadline for plaintiffs' class certification motion from February 23 to May 18 (id. at 20). Trial remains scheduled to begin on October 30 (Dkt. No. 90 at 4).

         On February 14, plaintiffs filed this motion for (1) an extension of time to file their second amended complaint, and (2) “leave to add a new party, Carlos Rogers, who on behalf of a putative class will be filing, in addition to intentional misrepresentation and concealment claims, a [RICO] claim . . . and to re-plead their conspiracy claim” (Dkt. No. 171). Rogers, plaintiffs explain, is “[a] former player . . . who suffered a RICO injury within the applicable statute of limitations period (the sole RICO-related issue this Court addressed in granting in part Defendants' motion to dismiss)” (id. at 1). A “retained client” of plaintiffs' counsel, Rogers apparently “decided to serve as a named Plaintiff” “in response to hearing about the Court's February 3 order” (id. at 2). Plaintiffs proclaim that Rogers “will proceed with RICO, intentional misrepresentation, and conspiracy claims, ...


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