United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO AMEND COMPLAINT [DOC.
JENNIFER L. THURSTON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
seeks leave to file a third amended complaint. (Doc. 20.)
Defendants oppose the request. (Doc. 21.) For the reasons set
forth below, Plaintiff's motion for leave to amend is
Factual Allegations and Background
filed her original complaint in this action on October 31,
2018. (Doc. 1.) Defendants filed a motion to dismiss on
December 14, 2018. (Doc. 5). The parties then stipulated to
allow Plaintiff to file a first amended complaint and once
filed, the Defendants would withdraw their motion to dismiss.
(Doc. 9; Doc. 10.) The Plaintiff filed a first amended
complaint on January 10, 2019 (Doc. 11), and the Defendants
withdrew the motion to dismiss on January 11, 2019. (Doc.
12.) Subsequently, the parties again stipulated to allow the
Plaintiff to file a second amended complaint. (Doc. 13; Doc.
14.) The Plaintiff filed a second amended complaint on
February 7, 2019 (Doc. 15), and the Defendants filed their
answer on February 20, 2019. (Doc. 16.)
incident that gave rise to this action occurred on August 19,
2018. (Doc. 15 at 5.) Defendants Officer Alejandro Patino and
other unnamed officers were on duty police officers with the
City of Bakersfield Police Department and were responding to
a call for a domestic violence incident at 4809 Hanh Ave,
#46, Bakersfield, California 93304 at approximately 11:30
p.m. (Id.) Decedent Christopher Okamota opened one
of the two doors to the apartment, where Officer Patino
observed Mr. Okamota extending a firearm in his right hand.
(Doc. 21 at 6-7.) Officer Patino discharged his weapon
striking Mr. Okamoto. (Doc. 21 at 7.) Mr. Okamota ultimately
died as a result of his injuries. (Doc. 15 at 6.)
is the biological mother of decedent. Plaintiff alleges that
at the time of filing the second amended complaint, Plaintiff
was under the mistaken belief that decedent was the
biological father of a minor child. (Doc. 20 at 7.) Plaintiff
claims that “Decedent's parentage of a child would
bar Plaintiff from asserting claims on behalf of the Decedent
for unreasonable use of deadly force, state law wrongful
death claims under California Code of Civil Procedure §
377.60, Fifth Amendment equal protection and due process
violations, and from claiming survival damages as
Decedent's successor in interest pursuant to California
Code of Civil Procedure § 377.30.” (Id.)
now seeks leave to file a third amended complaint, on the
grounds that she has recently discovered information that
gives her standing to bring additional claims on behalf of
the decedent. (Doc. 20.) Plaintiff contends that the
amendment is within the bounds of the scheduling order and
the parameters of Rule 15. Defendants filed their opposition
to the motion on June 18, 2019 (Doc. 21), to which Plaintiff
filed a reply on June 24, 2019. (Doc. 22.)
Legal Standards for Leave to Amend
Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a), a party may amend a pleading once as a
matter of course within 21 days of service, or if the
pleading is one to which a response is required, 21 days
after service of a motion under Rule 12(b), (e), or (f).
"In all other cases, a party may amend its pleading only
with the opposing party's written consent or the
court's leave." Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). Because
Defendants do not consent to the filing of an amended
complaint, Plaintiff seeks the leave of the Court.
or denying leave to amend a complaint is in the discretion of
the Court, Swanson v. United States Forest Service,
87 F.3d 339, 343 (9th Cir. 1996), though leave should be
"freely give[n] when justice so requires."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). "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 to grant leave to amend is applied with extreme
is no abuse of discretion "in denying a motion to amend
where the movant presents no new facts but only new theories
and provides no satisfactory explanation for his failure to
fully develop his contentions originally." Bonin v.
Calderon, 59 F.3d 815, 845 (9th Cir. 1995); see also
Allen v. City of Beverly Hills, 911 F.2d 367, 374 (9th
Cir. 1990). After a defendant files an answer, leave to amend
should not be granted where "amendment would cause
prejudice to the opposing party, is sought in bad faith, is
futile, or creates undue delay." Madeja v. Olympic
Packers, 310 F.3d 628, 636 (9th Cir. 2002) (citing
Yakama Indian Nation v. Washington Dep't of
Revenue, 176 F.3d 1241, 1246 (9th Cir. 1999)).
Discussion and Analysis
evaluating a motion to amend under Rule 15, the Court may
consider (1) whether the party has previously amended the
pleading, (2) undue delay, (3) bad faith, (4) futility of
amendment, and (5) prejudice to the opposing party. Foman
v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962); Loehr v. Ventura
County Comm. College Dist., 743 F.2d 1310, 1319 (9th
Cir. 1984). These factors are not of equal weight as
prejudice to the opposing party has long been held to be the
most critical factor to determine whether to grant leave to
amend. Eminence Capital, LLC v. Aspeon, Inc., 316
F.3d 1048, 1052 (9th Cir. 2003); Jackson v. Bank of
Hawaii, 902 F.2d 1385, 1387 (9th Cir. 1990).