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Krause v. Hawaiian Airlines, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. California

October 11, 2019

GWEN KRAUSE, Plaintiff,
v.
HAWAIIAN AIRLINES, INC., Defendant.

          ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO AMEND COMPLAINT TO ADD DEFENDANTS DELTA ENGINEERING AND HEATH TECNA AND AMEND PRE-TRIAL SCHEDULING ORDER

          JOHN A. MENDEZ, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         On February 26, 2018, Gwen Krause filed a suit against Hawaiian Airlines, Inc. (“Hawaiian”) in Sacramento County Superior Court alleging negligence. Compl., ECF No. 1-1. Defendant removed the case to federal court. Notice of Removal, ECF No. 1. Plaintiff now moves to amend her complaint and modify the pretrial scheduling order. Mot., ECF No. 37. Defendant opposes Plaintiff's motion. Opp'n, ECF No. 38.

         For the reasons set forth below, the Court DENIES Plaintiff's motion to amend.[1]

         I. FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On March 27, 2016, an interior panel on Defendant's aircraft fell from the ceiling and struck Plaintiff on the head. Compl. ¶ 12. Plaintiff contends Defendant failed to: (1) maintain the aircraft in a condition reasonably safe under the circumstances; (2) reasonably inspect the aircraft; and (3) observe due care and precaution. Compl. ¶ 15.

         Plaintiff filed suit two years later. Defendant removed the case to federal court. Through the course of discovery, Plaintiff received the initial disclosure of Defendant's expert. Mot. at 4. This April 2019 disclosure revealed that Defendant was attempting to shift liability to Delta Engineering, Inc. (“Delta Engineering”) and Heath Tecna, Inc. (“Heath Tecna”) for the design and manufacture of the panel and the panel's latch. Mot. at 4. Five months later, Plaintiff filed a motion to amend the complaint to add Delta Engineering and Heath Tecna as defendants and amend the pretrial scheduling order to allow Plaintiff and the new potential defendants to conduct discovery. Mot. at 11.

         II. OPINION

         A. Legal Standard

         Once the Court has filed a pretrial scheduling order, a party's motion to amend is not solely governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15. Rather, the moving party must satisfy Rule 16(b)'s “good cause” requirement before the Court will assess the propriety of the amendment under Rule 15. Johnson v. Mammoth Recreations, Inc., 975 F.2d 604, 607-08 (9th Cir. 1992).

         This requirement primarily looks to “the diligence of the party seeking the amendment.” Johnson, 975 F.2d at 609. “[T]he existence or degree of prejudice to the party opposing the modification might supply additional reasons to deny a motion.” Id. But, unlike the Rule 15 analysis, “the focus of the [Rule 16] inquiry is upon the moving party's reasons for seeking modification [of the schedule].” Id. If the “[moving] party was not diligent, the inquiry should end.” Id.

         B. Analysis

         1. Rule 16(b)

         The “good cause” requirement is typically not met “where the party seeking to modify the pretrial scheduling order has been aware of the facts and theories supporting amendment since the inception of the action.” Id. at 737. Indeed, “carelessness is not compatible with a finding of diligence and offers no reason for a grant of relief.” Johnson, 975 F.2d at 610.

         The motion to amend at issue here bears striking similarities to the one before the Ninth Circuit in Johnson. In Johnson, the plaintiff sued Mammoth Recreations, Inc. after a ski-lift accident. 975 F.2d at 606. On two occasions prior to the scheduling order's deadline for joining additional parties, the defendant told plaintiff that Mammoth Mountain Ski, not Mammoth Recreations, owned and operated the ski lift. Id. at 606-07. Mammoth Recreations even offered to stipulate to a substitution of the proper party. Id. at 607. Nonetheless, Johnson failed to file a motion to amend his complaint until four months after the scheduling order's deadline for joining parties. Id. at 607. The Court denied Johnson's motion ...


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