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Navarro v. Hamilton

United States District Court, C.D. California

March 15, 2017


          Present: Honorable CHRISTINA A. SNYDER


         Proceedings: (IN CHAMBERS) - DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE A COUNTERCLAIM (Dkt. 13, filed February 15, 2017)

         The Court finds this motion appropriate for decision without oral argument. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 78; CD. Cal. Local Rule 7-15. Accordingly, the hearing date of March 20, 2017 is vacated, and the matter is hereby taken under submission.


         On June 8, 2016, plaintiffs Norma Navarro and Waldemar Valentin filed this action in San Bernardino Superior Court against Fred Hamilton, Hamilton Transportation Services, LLC, and Does 1-50. Dkt 1-1.

         This case arises from a collision between plaintiffs' vehicle and Hamilton's truck. Plaintiffs allege that, on July 4, 2014, at approximately 1:05 a.m., Valentin was driving northbound on Interstate 15 while Navarro was sitting in the passenger seat of Valentin's vehicle. Id. ¶ 8. At that time, Hamilton had parked his truck on the right shoulder of the highway. Id. Valentin lost control of his vehicle and collided into Hamilton's parked truck. Id. Plaintiffs assert two claims against defendants: (1) negligence and negligence per se; and (2) negligent hiring, supervision, and retention. Id. ¶¶ 9-20.

         On August 18, 2016, defendants filed an answer to plaintiffs' complaint. Dkt. 1-2.

         On August 30, 2016, defendants removed the action to this Court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. Dkt. 1.

         On February 15, 2017, defendants timely filed a motion for leave to file a counterclaim or an amended answer.[1] Dkt. 13-1 ("Motion"). Valentin filed an untimely opposition to defendants' motion on March 7, 2017. Dkt. 16("Opp'n"). Defendants filed a reply on March 8, 2017. Dkt. 17.

         Having carefully considered the parties' arguments the Court finds and concludes as follows.


         Counterclaims are governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 13, which categorizes counterclaims as either compulsory or permissive. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 13. A compulsory counterclaim is one that "arises out of the transaction or occurrence that is the subject matter of the opposing party's claims." Fed.R.Civ.P. 13(a)(1)(A). A compulsory counterclaim must be "mature and owned by the pleader at the time he serves his pleading." Procare Labs.. Inc. v. Gull Labs.. Inc.. 50 F.3d 15, *2 (9th Cir. 1995); see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 13(e) ("The court may permit a party to file a supplemental pleading asserting a counterclaim that matured or was acquired by the party after serving an earlier pleading."). When a counterclaim is compulsory, it is forfeited if it is not raised in the party's pleading, including its answer to a complaint. Pochiro v. Prudential Ins. Co.. 827 F.2d 1246, 1249 (9th Cir. 1987). The Ninth Circuit applies the "logical relationship test" to determine whether a counterclaim is compulsory. See id. Applying the logical relationship test, the court must examine "whether the essential facts of the various claims are so logically connected that considerations of judicial economy and fairness dictate that all the issues be resolved in one lawsuit." Id. If a party timely seeks leave to file a counterclaim that matured after the party's initial pleading, see Fed.R.Civ.P. 13(e), "the court should grant it applying the same standard as that of an amendment under Rule 15." Kuschner v. Nationwide Credit. Inc.. 256 F.R.D. 684, 689 (E.D. Cal. 2009).

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15 provides that after a responsive pleading has been filed, "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).

         Where leave to amend is sought, the decision whether to grant leave to amend "is within the sound discretion of the trial court." United States v. Webb, 655 F.2d 977, 979 (9th Cir. 1981). Generally, a court grants a motion for leave to amend pleadings pursuant to the permissive standard of Rule 15(a). Martinez v. Newport Beach City, 125 F.3d 777, 785 (9th Cir. 1997). "Five factors are taken into account to assess the propriety of a motion for leave to amend: [(1)] bad faith, [(2)] undue delay, [(3)] prejudice to the opposing party, [(4)] futility of amendment, and [(5)] whether the plaintiff has previously amended the complaint." Johnson v. Buckley, 356 F.3d 1067, 1077 (9th Cir. 2004) (citing Nunes v. Ashcroft, 348 F.3d 815, 818 (9th Cir. 2003)). Some factors may be ...

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