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Smith v. Gibbs

United States District Court, E.D. California

September 25, 2019

LAWRENCE CHRISTOPHER SMITH, Plaintiff,
v.
GIBBS, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION TO AMEND THE COMPLAINT (ECF NO. 25) ORDER GRANTING IN PART PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR EXTENSION OF TIME TO FILE OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (ECF NO. 27) THIRTY (30) DAY DEADLINE

          BARBARA A. MCAULIFFE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. Procedural History

         Plaintiff Lawrence Christopher Smith (“Plaintiff”) is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

         On May 23, 2018, the undersigned issued findings and recommendations in Smith v. Chanelo (“Smith I”), No. 1:16-cv-01356-LJO-BAM (PC), recommending that: (1) the action proceed on Plaintiff’s first amended complaint only as to the excessive force claim against Defendants Sotelo, P. Chanelo, D. Wattree, K. Hunt, L. Castro, A. Gonzalez, E. Ramirez, and R. Rodriguez, on March 13, 2013; (2) the Court sever the misjoined claims, into three separate cases and such cases be opened, for excessive force for the incidents of: September 9, 2013 against Defendant D. Knowlton; November 15, 2013 against Defendants E. Weiss, O. Hurtado, and F.

         Zavleta; and February 6, 2014 against Defendants D. Gibbs and D. Hardy; (3) Plaintiff’s improperly joined claims of February 4, 2015, February 25, 2015, and September 2, 2015 be dismissed without prejudice to re-filing; and (4) the remaining claims and defendants be dismissed for failure to state a cognizable claim. Smith I, ECF No. 16. The Court adopted the findings and recommendations in full on June 20, 2018, and the misjoined claims were opened as separate actions. (ECF No. 2.) Accordingly, the instant action was opened as Smith v. Gibbs, No. 1:18-cv-00854-LJO-BAM (PC), and proceeds against Defendants D. Gibbs and D. Hardy for the excessive force incident of February 6, 2014.

         On July 12, 2019, a settlement conference was held before Magistrate Judge Stanley A. Boone, where the parties attempted to resolve the instant action as well as several other pending actions brought by Plaintiff. The case did not settle. (ECF No. 18.)

         On July 18, 2019, Defendant Hardy filed an answer to the complaint. (ECF No. 19.) On August 26, 2019, following service of the complaint on Defendant Gibbs, Defendants Hardy and Gibbs filed an answer to the complaint. (ECF No. 22.) The Court issued a discovery and scheduling order on August 30, 2019. (ECF No. 23.) Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment on September 4, 2019. (ECF No. 24.)

         Currently before the Court are Plaintiff’s motion to amend the complaint, a lodged first amended complaint, and Plaintiff’s motion for continuance in these proceedings, filed September 20, 2019. (ECF Nos. 25, 26, 27.) Defendants have not yet had the opportunity to file responses to Plaintiff’s motions, but the Court finds responses are unnecessary. The motions are deemed submitted. Local Rule 230(1).

         II. Motion to Amend

         In his motion to amend the complaint, Plaintiff argues that his complaint is deficient in pleading facts sufficient for him to convey the full panoply of claims he is presently pursuing against the Defendants. Plaintiff further seeks to amend the complaint to join additional parties allegedly involved in Defendants’ conduct of February 6, 2014. Plaintiff contends that there will be no prejudice to Defendants in permitting him to file an amended complaint, as discovery was only opened on August 30, 2019. Further, although Defendants have filed a motion for summary judgment, Plaintiff argues that his amended complaint will cure the defects alleged in the motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 25.)

         A. Legal Standard

         Under Rule 15(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a party may amend the party’s pleading once as a matter of course at any time before a responsive pleading is served. Otherwise, a party may amend only by leave of the court or by written consent of the adverse party. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a). “Rule 15(a) is very liberal and leave to amend shall be freely given when justice so requires.” AmerisourceBergen Corp. v. Dialysist West, Inc., 465 F.3d 946, 951 (9th Cir. 2006) (citation and quotation omitted).

         However, courts “need not grant leave to amend where the amendment: (1) prejudices the opposing party; (2) is sought in bad faith; (3) produces an undue delay in litigation; or (4) is futile.” Id. These factors do not carry equal weight. Prejudice is the most important factor to consider. Jackson v. Bank of Hawaii, 902 F.2d 1385, 1387 (9th Cir. 1990).

         B. ...


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