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Vahora v. Valley Diagnostics Laboratory, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 25, 2017

GULAMNABI VAHORA, Plaintiff,
v.
VALLEY DIAGNOSTICS LABORATORY, INC., et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE AMENDED COMPLAINT (Doc. 35)

          Sheila K. Oberto, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File First Amended Complaint (the “Motion to Amend”).[1] (Doc. 35.) For the reasons provided herein, the Court GRANTS this motion. (Id.)

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(2)[2] provides that “a party may amend its pleading only with the opposing party's written consent or the court's leave.” Rule 15(a)(2) further states that “[t]he court should freely give leave when justice so requires.” “This policy is ‘to be applied with extreme liberality.'” Eminence Capital, LLC v. Aspeon, Inc., 316 F.3d 1048, 1051 (9th Cir. 2003) (quoting Owens v. Kaiser Found. Health Plan, Inc., 244 F.3d 708, 712 (9th Cir. 2001)). “This liberality in granting leave to amend is not dependent on whether the amendment will add causes of action or parties.” United States v. Salera, No. 2:09-cv-02290-GEB-DAD, 2013 WL 1284311, at *1 (E.D. Cal. Mar. 28, 2013) (quoting DCD Programs, Ltd. v. Leighton, 833 F.2d 183, 186 (9th Cir. 1987)).

         “The factors commonly considered to determine the propriety of a motion for leave to amend are (1) bad faith, (2) undue delay, (3) prejudice to the opposing party, and (4) futility of amendment.” G.P.P., Inc. v. Guardian Prot. Prods., Inc., Case No. 1:15-cv-00321-SKO, 2016 WL 4041194, at *5 (E.D. Cal. July 27, 2016) (citing Foman v. Davis, 182 (1962)); cf. Bonin v. Calderon, 59 F.3d 815, 845 (9th Cir. 1995) (noting that, in addition to these four factors, courts “often consider” whether “the party has previously amended his pleadings” (citing W. Shoshone Nat'l Council v. Molini, 951 F.2d 200, 204 (9th Cir. 1991))). Among these factors, “the consideration of prejudice to the opposing party . . . carries the greatest weight.” Eminence Capital, LLC, 316 F.3d at 1052 (citation omitted); see also Bonin, 59 F.3d at 845 (“Futility of amendment can, by itself, justify the denial of a motion for leave to amend.”). 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.” Eminence Capital, LLC, 316 F.3d at 1052 (citation omitted); cf. Bowles v. Reade, 198 F.3d 752, 758 (9th Cir. 1999) (“Undue delay by itself . . . is insufficient to justify denying a motion to amend.” (citation omitted)).

         Turning first to bad faith, Defendants raise two pertinent arguments as to why Plaintiff brings the Motion to Amend in bad faith. (See Doc. 36 at 11-12.) First, Defendants contend that “Plaintiff has sought to add allegations, parties, and causes of action in violation of the Court's [o]rder after the prior motion to dismiss without explanation for its reasons for violating the Court's [o]rder.” (Id. at 11.) However, in its order entered on June 14, 2017, the Court denied Defendants' request to strike portions of Plaintiff's prior amended complaint and provided “Plaintiff an opportunity to demonstrate that amendment is appropriate.” (Doc. 34 at 6-7.) As the Court explicitly permitted Plaintiff to seek amendment, the Court is not persuaded by Defendants' argument regarding Plaintiff adding additional allegations and claims in the proposed amended complaint. Cf. Salera, 2013 WL 1284311, at *1 (“This liberality in granting leave to amend is not dependent on whether the amendment will add causes of action or parties.” (quoting DCD Programs, Ltd., 833 F.2d at 186)).

         Second, Defendants argue that the proposed amended complaint “contradicts the allegations of the [original complaint], which justifies denial of the present [Motion to Amend].” (Doc. 36 at 11.) The Court also disagrees with this argument. The Court is not aware of―and Defendants have not cited―any additional allegations that conflict with those provided in Plaintiff's original complaint. Cf. NetApp, Inc. v. Nimble Storage, Inc., Case No. 5:13-CV-05058-LHK (HRL), 2015 WL 400251, at *10 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 29, 2015) (finding that amendment would be futile where a proposed new allegation “would contradict the allegations [the plaintiff] made in its” first complaint). To the contrary, the new allegations that Defendants cite in their briefing merely provide additional context to Plaintiff's claims. (See Doc. 36 at 7-9.) Absent any indication of bad faith, the Court finds that this factor weighs in favor of permitting amendment.

         As to futility, there is no indication in the record that Plaintiff's proposed amendment would be futile. The Court therefore finds that the futility factor weighs in favor of granting the Motion to Amend.

         Regarding undue delay, the Court previously noted that “[t]his case is in its infancy and the Court has yet to enter a scheduling order.” (Doc. 34 at 6.) As this case is in a preliminary posture, the Court finds that Plaintiff did not unduly delay in seeking amendment.

         Finally, given the present posture of this matter, Defendants would suffer little to no harm due to the amendment. Defendants nonetheless contend that “[t]he discovery” that will be required to address Plaintiff's allegations in the proposed amended complaint will be costly. (Doc. 36 at 12.) However, litigation inherently involves costs and the potential to incur such costs in the first instance―i.e., where, as here, the parties have yet to engage in any discovery―is insufficient to demonstrate the requisite prejudice. See, e.g., Gilman v. Davis, No. CIV. S-05-830 LKK/GGH, 2009 WL 577768, at *4 (E.D. Cal. Mar. 4, 2009) (stating that “[d]efending a lawsuit . . . necessarily involves significant costs” and “[t]hese costs are not themselves prejudicial”); see also Artemus v. Louie, Case No. 16-cv-00626, 2017 WL 747368, at *4 (N.D. Cal. Feb. 27, 2017) (“[M]erely having to defend against additional claims does not show prejudice.” (citing United States v. Webb, 655 F.2d 977, 980 (9th Cir. 1981))); cf. AmerisourceBergen Corp. v. Dailysist W., Inc., 465 F.3d 946, 953 (9th Cir. 2006) (finding that the defendant would be prejudiced by amendment where the plaintiff sought to “advance different legal theories and require proof of different facts” in the middle of discovery); Witkin v. Lotersztain, No. 2:15-cv-0638 MCE KJN P, 2016 WL 7404764, at *4 (E.D. Cal. Dec. 22, 2016) (“Courts have found undue delay weighing against granting leave to amend where a motion for leave to amend is filed near or after the close of discovery.” (collecting cases)). The Court therefore finds that amendment will not result in prejudice to Defendants and, consequently, this factor weighs in favor of granting the Motion to Amend.

         In summary, the Court finds that the pertinent factors weigh in favor of permitting amendment. The Court therefore finds that it is appropriate to permit Plaintiff to amend his complaint.[3]

         For these reasons, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's Motion to Amend. (Doc. 35.) The Court therefore ORDERS Plaintiff to file the proposed amended complaint attached to the Motion to Amend, (See Doc. 35, Ex. 3), as the “Second Amended Complaint” by no later than August 2, 2017.

         IT IS SO ORDERED.

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