United States District Court, S.D. California
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFFS' REQUEST FOR LEAVE TO
FILE AN AMENDED COMPLAINT
ANTHONY J. BATTAGLIA UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is Plaintiffs' “request for
leave” to file an amended complaint. (Doc. No. 25.)
Defendants have filed a notice stating their intent to oppose
Plaintiffs' request should the Court entertain it. (Doc.
No. 26.) Having reviewed the parties' submissions and
controlling legal authority, and pursuant to Local Civil Rule
7.1.d.1, the Court finds the matter suitable for decision
without oral argument. The Court DENIES
dispute arises out of Plaintiffs' contention that they
are members of the San Pasqual Indian Band. Plaintiffs
instituted this lawsuit on September 28, 2016, by filing the
original complaint. (Doc. No. 1.) Defendants moved to dismiss
that complaint on March 27, 2017. (Doc. No. 9.) In lieu of
opposing Defendants' motion, Plaintiffs filed the
operative amended complaint on April 11, 2017. (Doc. No. 13.)
Given the amended complaint, the Court denied as moot
Defendants' motion. (Doc. No. 14.)
12, 2017, Defendants moved to dismiss the amended complaint.
(Doc. No. 20.) Plaintiffs were given until June 26, 2017, to
oppose the motion. (Doc. No. 21.) Again, instead of opposing
the motion, Plaintiffs filed a second amended complaint on
June 26. (Doc. No. 23.) The same day, the Court struck that
order pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15 for
Plaintiffs' failure to obtain Defendants' consent or
leave of Court. (Doc. No. 24.) Plaintiffs thereafter filed
the instant request for leave of Court to amend the
complaint. (Doc. No. 25.) The next day, Defendants filed a
notice of their intent to oppose Plaintiffs' request
should the Court entertain it. (Doc. No. 26.) This order
15(a) governs leave to amend prior to trial. A party may
amend its pleading once as a matter of course within 21 days
after serving it; or, if the pleading is one requiring a
response, within 21 days after service of the responsive
pleading or motion. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1). “In all
other cases, 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). “Five factors
are taken into account to assess the propriety of a motion
for leave to amend: bad faith, undue delay, prejudice to the
opposing party, futility of the amendment, and whether the
plaintiff has previously amended the
complaint.” Desertrain v. City of
L.A., 754 F.3d 1147, 1154 (9th Cir. 2014) (quoting
Johnson v. Buckley, 356 F.3d 1067, 1077 (9th Cir.
2004)). These factors do not “merit equal weight,
” and “it is the consideration of prejudice to
the opposing party that carries the greatest weight.”
Eminence Capital, LLC v. Aspeon, Inc., 316 F.3d
1048, 1052 (9th Cir. 2003) (per curiam). “Absent
prejudice, or a strong showing of any of the remaining 
factors, there exists a presumption under Rule 15(a)
in favor of granting leave to amend.” Id.
(emphasis in original).
grant or denial of leave to amend is in the Court's
discretion. Swanson v. U.S. Forest Serv., 87 F.3d
339, 343 (9th Cir. 1996). “In exercising this
discretion, a court must be guided by the underlying purpose
of Rule 15 to facilitate decision on the merits, rather than
on the pleadings or technicalities.” United States
v. Webb, 655 F.2d 977, 979 (9th Cir. 1981).
Consequently, the policy in favor of granting leave to amend
is applied with extreme liberality. See Foman v.
Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 181-82 (1962).
Court finds that the weight of the Desertrain
factors supports denying Plaintiffs' request. While the
Court “should freely give leave when justice so
requires, ” justice will not be had if Plaintiffs'
request is granted. This is the second time Plaintiffs, when
faced with a motion to dismiss, strategically filed an
amended complaint instead of opposing Defendants'
arguments on the merits. This suggests bad faith. This fact
is also relevant to the fifth factor, specifically, whether
Plaintiffs have previously amended the complaint (they have).
Furthermore, the complaints in this case are substantial.
Defendants undertook significant efforts to research and
draft a succinct motion to dismiss in the face of a complaint
that exceeds 800 pages. To summarily deny Defendants'
motion on the basis of Plaintiffs' filing (again) would
be prejudicial to Defendants. As such, this factor strongly
favors denying Plaintiffs' request. Because prejudice to
Defendants is accorded the greatest weight, and because there
is a strong showing on three of the five factors, the Court
exercises its discretion and DENIES Plaintiffs'
on the foregoing, the Court DENIES Plaintiffs' request.
At this juncture, the Court finds it appropriate to proceed
with Defendants' motion to dismiss. The Court sua
sponte extends the briefing schedule on that motion.
Plaintiffs' opposition is due no later than July 12,
2017. Defendants' reply is due July 29,
2017. No further extensions will be given. Pursuant to
the Court's prior order, Plaintiffs' opposition may
not exceed 35 pages. Defendants' reply may not exceed 15
pages. The hearing on this motion remains August 10,
2017, at 2:00 p.m. in Courtroom 4A.