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Truijillo v. Ametek, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. California

June 21, 2017

DANIELLE TRUIJILLO, as Guardian Ad Litem for KADEN PORTER, a minor, on behalf of himself and others similarly situated; LACEY MORALES, as Guardian Ad Litem for ISABEL MORALES., a minor, on behalf of herself and others similarly situated; BEVERLY HOY, on behalf of herself and others similarly situated;, Plaintiffs,
AMETEK, INC., a Delaware corporation; SENIOR OPERATIONS, LLC, a limited liability company; THOMAS DEENEY; and DOES 2 through 100, inclusive, Defendants.


          Hon. Gonzalo P. Curiel United States District Judge.

         Before the Court is Plaintiffs' motion for leave to amend their First Amended Complaint. Dkt No. 89. The motion has been fully briefed. Dkt. Nos. 94, 96. The Court deems Plaintiffs' motion suitable for disposition without oral argument pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7.1(d)(1). Having reviewed Plaintiffs' moving papers and the applicable law, and for the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS Plaintiffs' motion for leave to amend.


         On May 29, 2015, Plaintiffs, Danielle Trujillo, as Guardian Ad Litem for Kaden Porter, Lacey Morales, as Guardian Ad Litem for Isabel Morales, and Beverly Hoy on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated (“Plaintiffs”), filed this lawsuit in San Diego County Superior Court against Defendants, Ametek, Inc., Senior Operations, LLC, and DOES 1-100 (“Defendants”). On June 25, 2015, Defendant, Senior Operations, LLC, removed this matter to federal court. Dkt. No. 1.

         On August 7, 2015, Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint (“FAC”). Dkt. No. 21. The amended complaint named Ametek Inc. and Senior Operations, LLC, as Defendants and again reserved DOES 1 through 100 as unnamed defendants. Id. Subsequently, Defendants filed motions to dismiss Plaintiffs' FAC. Dkt. Nos. 24, 25. On October 2, 2015, Plaintiffs filed responses to the motions. Dkt. Nos. 33, 34. On November 11, 2015, this Court granted in part and denied in part Defendants' motions to dismiss. Dkt. No. 43.

         On March 8, 2017, Plaintiffs moved to file a Second Amended Complaint (“SAC”). Dkt. No. 89. Plaintiffs' SAC sought to add Thomas Deeney as a defendant, taking the place of DOE 1. On March 24, 2017, Defendant Ametek (as moving “Defendant”), filed a response in opposition to amendment. Dkt. No. 94. On March 31, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a reply. Dkt. No. 96.


         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (“Rule”) 15(a), leave to amend a complaint after a responsive pleading has been filed may be allowed by leave of the court and “shall freely be given when justice so requires.” Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962); Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a). “If the underlying facts or circumstances relied upon by a plaintiff may be a proper subject of relief, he ought to be afforded an opportunity to test his claim on the merits.” Foman, 371 U.S. at 182. Granting leave to amend rests in the sound discretion of the trial court. Int'l Ass'n of Machinists & Aerospace Workers v. Republic Airlines, 761 F.2d 1386, 1390 (9th Cir. 1985). This discretion must be guided by the strong federal policy favoring the disposition of cases on the merits and permitting amendments with “extreme liberality.” DCD Programs Ltd. v. Leighton, 833 F.2d 183, 186 (9th Cir. 1987). “This liberality in granting leave to amend is not dependent on whether the amendment will add causes of action or parties.” Id.

         Because Rule 15(a) favors the disposition of cases on the merits and weighs in favor of amendment, the nonmoving party bears the burden of demonstrating why leave to amend should not be granted. Genentech, Inc. v. Abbott Labs., 127 F.R.D. 529, 530-31 (N.D. Cal. 1989). In assessing the propriety of an amendment, courts consider several factors: (1) undue delay; (2) bad faith or dilatory motive; (3) prejudice to the opposing party; (4) repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously permitted; and (5) futility of amendment. Foman, 371 U.S. at 182; United States v. Corinthian Colleges, 655 F.3d 984, 995 (9th Cir. 2011).

         These factors do not carry equal weight. The possibility of delay alone, for instance, cannot justify denial of leave to amend. See DCD Programs, 833 F.2d at 186. But when delay is combined with a showing of prejudice, bad faith, or futility of amendment, leave to amend will likely be denied. Bowles v. Reade, 198 F.2d 752, 758 (9th Cir. 1999). The single most important factor is whether prejudice would result to the non-movant as a consequence of the amendment. William Inglis & Sons Baking Co. v. ITT Continental Baking Co., 668 F.2d 1014, 1053 n.68 (9th Cir. 1981). Absent prejudice, or a strong showing of any of the remaining factors, there exists a presumption in favor of granting leave to amend. Eminence Capital, LLC v. Aspeon, Inc., 316 F.3d 1048, 1052 (9th Cir. 2003).


         Plaintiffs seek leave to amend to add Thomas Deeney, a natural person, as a defendant. Plaintiffs contend that during a December 2016 deposition of Deeney, Plaintiffs learned new information that implicates Deeney as having been responsible for the acts or omissions that caused Plaintiffs' injuries. Defendant Ametek opposes Plaintiffs' motion on multiple grounds, emphasizing above all that the recent deposition of Deeney did not reveal new facts or evidence justifying amendment. The Court will consider Defendant's arguments in turn.

         A. Unjustified and Undue Delay

         Defendant points to three circumstances indicating that Plaintiffs have unduly delayed in seeking to add Deeney as a defendant. One, Defendant argues that Plaintiffs had sufficient information at least a year before filing the current motion, to assess Deeney's role and responsibilities at Ametek and to add him as a defendant. Dkt. No. 94 at 5. Defendant argues that the administrative record, on which Plaintiffs' initial complaint relied, is “replete with references, notices, orders and correspondence involving, addressed to, or authored by Mr. Deeney on behalf of AMETEK.” Id. at 6. Defendant further argues that Deeney had already been identified by Ametek in its Rule 26(a) Initial Disclosures as the Ametek representative “most knowledgeable as to facts and circumstances regarding” the current dispute. Lastly, Defendants point out ...

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