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Nash-Perry v. City of Bakersfield

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 8, 2019

TAMETRIA NASH-PERRY, an individual, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF BAKERSFIELD, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO AMEND COMPLAINT [DOC. 20]

          JENNIFER L. THURSTON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff 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 GRANTED.

         I. Factual Allegations and Background

         Plaintiff 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.)

         The 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.)

         Plaintiff 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.)

         Plaintiff 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.)

         II. Legal Standards for Leave to Amend

         Under 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.

         Granting 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 liberality. Id.

         There 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)).

         III. Discussion and Analysis

         In 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).

         A. Pri ...


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