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Sigorta v. Ameritech Industries, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 25, 2017

ALLIANZ SIGORTA, S.A., Plaintiff,
v.
AMERITECH INDUSTRIES, INC., EAGLE ENGINES, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER

          MORRISON C. ENGLAND, JR., JUDGE.

         On August 5, 2015, Plaintiff Allianz Sigorta, S.A. filed its Complaint against Defendants Ameritech Industries, Inc., and Eagle Engines (collectively, “Defendant”). Compl., ECF No. 1.[1] Plaintiff, an insurance company, insured the aircraft that is the subject of the present litigation. Defendant Eagle Engines is-or was at the time of the incident-a division or subsidiary of Defendant Ameritech. Eagle Engines performed an overhaul of the aircraft's engine shortly before the aircraft was forced to undertake an emergency landing due to engine failure in flight. Plaintiff's Complaint alleges claims of negligence and negligent misrepresentation stemming from Defendant's alleged failure to adequately overhaul the subject engine.

         On August 10, 2016, after multiple failed attempts to properly notice its motion, Defendant noticed an amended motion to compel before Magistrate Judge Allison Claire, and filed an amended joint statement regarding the discovery disagreement the next day. ECF Nos. 43 and 44. Judge Claire denied the motion to compel on August 12, 2016, because-among other things-discovery had closed August 8, and the motion was therefore untimely. See Order Denying Motion to Compel, ECF No. 46.

         On August 31, 2016, Plaintiff filed its Motion for Leave to Amend the Complaint, seeking to add (1) a claim of negligence per se, (2) a claim for violation of California's Unfair Competition Law (“UCL”), and (3) allegations supporting exemplary damages. See Pl. Mot., ECF No. 50. Thereafter, on September 1, 2016, Defendant filed its Motion for 115-Day Extension of Time, seeking to extend the discovery cutoff in order to obtain a ruling on the previously denied motion to compel before Judge Claire. See Def. Mot., ECF No. 51. Each party opposes the motion of the other, and each party has filed a reply in response to those oppositions. See Pl. Opp, ECF No. 52; Def. Resp., ECF No. 53; Pl. Reply, ECF No. 54; Def. Reply, ECF No. 56. The motions were taken under submission October 3, 2016.

         On December 1, 2016, Defendant filed its motion for summary judgement (“MSJ”). Def. MSJ, ECF No. 63. Plaintiff then filed its cross-motion for summary judgment on December 6, 2016, and separately opposed Defendant's MSJ on December 22, 2016. Pl. MSJ, ECF No. 66; Pl. Opp. MSJ, ECF No. 68. Defendant then filed a motion in limine (“MIL”) to exclude certain expert opinions cited in Plaintiff's MSJ on December 30, 2016, and separately opposed Plaintiff's cross-MSJ on January 5, 2017. MIL, ECF No. 70; Def. Opp. MSJ, ECF No. 71. Plaintiff opposed Defendant's MIL on January 12, 2017. Pl. Opp. MIL, ECF No. 75. Each party filed its respective replies concerning the MSJs and MIL as well. See ECF Nos. 74, 76, 77. The MSJs and MIL were taken under submission March 20, 2017.[2]

         For the reasons discussed below, Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Amend the Complaint is GRANTED; Defendant's Motion for 115-Day Extension of Time regarding the discovery cutoff is GRANTED; Plaintiff's MSJ, Defendant's MSJ, and Defendant's MIL are STRICKEN for failure to comply with the terms, intent, and spirit of the Court's Pretrial Scheduling Order (“PTSO, ” ECF No. 12). As detailed below, the parties may refile dispositive motions at a later date, pursuant to the directions and timeline outlined below.

         STANDARDS

         A. Leave to File An Amended Complaint

         Generally, a motion to amend is subject to Rule 15(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which provides that “[t]he court should freely give leave [to amend] when justice so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). However, “[o]nce the district court ha[s] filed a pretrial scheduling order pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16[, ] which establishe[s] a timetable for amending pleadings[, ] that rule's standards control[ ].” Johnson v. Mammoth Recreations, Inc., 975 F.2d 604, 607-08 (9th Cir. 1992); see In re W. States Wholesale Natural Gas Antitrust Litig., 715 F.3d 716, 737 (9th Cir. 2013).

         Rule 16(b) requires a party seeking leave to amend to demonstrate “good cause.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b). “Rule 16(b)'s ‘good cause' standard primarily considers the diligence of the party seeking amendment.” Johnson, 975 F.2d at 609. “If that party was not diligent, the inquiry should end.” Id. Although “the focus of the inquiry is upon the moving party's reasons for seeking modification, ” a court may make its determination by noting the prejudice to other parties. Id.

         If good cause is found, the court must then evaluate the request to amend in light of Rule 15(a)'s liberal standard. Id. at 608. Leave to amend should be granted unless amendment: (1) would cause prejudice to the opposing party, (2) is sought in bad faith, (3) creates undue delay, (4) or is futile. Chudacoff v. Univ. Med. Ctr. of S. Nev., 649 F.3d 1143, 1153 (9th Cir. 2011) (citing Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962)). “Because Rule 16(b)'s ‘good cause' inquiry essentially incorporates the first three factors, if a court finds that good cause exists, it should then deny a motion for leave to amend only if such amendment would be futile.” Baisa v. Indymac Fed. Reserve, No. 2:09-CV-01464-WBS-JFM, 2010 WL 2348736, at *1 (E.D. Cal. June 8, 2010).

         B. Extension of Time

         With its motion for extension of time, Defendant seeks an extension of the discovery cutoff, which requires amendment of the PTSO. As with Plaintiff's motion for leave to file an amended complaint, any motion seeking to amend the PTSO must meet the “good cause” standard of Rule 16. Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b). In explaining this standard, the Ninth Circuit has stated:

A district court may modify the pretrial schedule “if it cannot reasonably be met despite the diligence of the party seeking the extension.” Moreover, carelessness is not compatible with a finding of diligence and offers no reason for granting of relief. Although the existence or degree of prejudice to the party opposing the modification might supply additional reasons to deny a motion, the focus of the inquiry is upon the moving party's reasons for seeking modifications. If that party was not diligent, the inquiry should end.

Johnson, 975 F.2d at 609 (citations omitted).

         C. Violation of Pretrial Scheduling Order

         “A scheduling order ‘is not a frivolous piece of paper, idly entered, which can be cavalierly disregarded by counsel without peril.' [citation omitted] . . . Disregard of the order would undermine the court's ability to control its docket, disrupt the agreed-upon course of the litigation, and reward the indolent and the cavalier.” Johnson, 975 F.2d at 610. If a party fails to obey a ...


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