United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER DENYING MOTION TO AMEND COMPLAINT (DOC.
JENNIFER L. THURSTON, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
seeks leave to file a first amended complaint. (Doc. 33.)
Defendants oppose the request. (Doc. 34.) For the following
reasons, Plaintiff's motion for leave to amend is
Factual Allegations and Background
filed an action for personal injuries as a result of a motor
vehicle collision that occurred on July 14, 2018. (Doc. 1 at
18-19.) Plaintiff alleged that the acts of Defendants were
negligent and caused his injuries. (Doc. 1 at 18-19.)
Plaintiff initiated this action by filing a complaint on
November 7, 2018, in the Superior Court of the State of
California in and for the County of Kern, entitled Sorya
Johnson v. Knight Transportation, Inc., et al., Case No.
BCV-18-102791. (Doc. 1 at 10-20.) Defendant Knight
Transportation, Inc. filed an answer on November 26, 2018.
(Doc. 1 at 22-29.) Defendant Thomas Earl Gossard filed an
answer on December 7, 2018. (Doc. 1 at 31-40.) On December
10, 2018, Defendants filed a notice of removal to the Eastern
District of California. (Doc. 1.) This Court held a
scheduling conference with the parties on March 11, 2019.
(Docs. 10, 11.)
request of counsel, the Court held an informal telephonic
conference regarding discovery disputes on August 16, 2019.
(Docs. 19, 20.) By that time, little discovery had occurred,
and the parties were mired in disputes. (Doc. 21)
thereafter, on September 4, 2019, the parties filed a
stipulation to amend the case schedule to extend all
deadlines by about four months. (Doc. 24.) The Court denied
the stipulation because they failed to demonstrate they had
acted diligently in completing discovery. (Doc. 26.) On
September 10, 2019, the parties again filed a stipulation to
amend the case schedule. (Doc. 27.) Much of the need for the
amendment to the case schedule was due to the fact that the
plaintiff had failed to disclose her January 2019 surgery
until July 2019. Id. at 2-3. The Court granted in
part the stipulation to amend the case schedule and
emphasized that counsel cooperate to schedule depositions and
to take them immediately and to complete all needed discovery
expeditiously. (Doc. 30.)
September 27, 2019, Plaintiff took the deposition of Thomas
Gossard. Plaintiff claims that it was at this deposition that
she learned facts supporting an independent negligence claim
against Knight Transportation and justification for a
punitive damage award was first revealed. (Doc. 33 at 6, 15.)
Plaintiff alleges that she learned that the vehicle operated
by Gossard had been damaged in a prior collision, nearly a
year before the collision at issue, resulting in structural
damage to the front of the cab and knocking off a “spot
mirror” that helps the operator visualize blind spots
and manage space along the passenger side of the vehicle.
(Doc. 33 at 2.) nevertheless, since the case was filed,
Plaintiff had taken the position that Knight had
“negligently and carelessly . . . repair[ed] and
maintain[ed] a motor vehicle so as to cause the same to crash
into a vehicle driven by plaintiff . . .” (Doc. 1 at
19) Despite this, Plaintiff did not seek punitive damages.
(Doc. 1 at 17) The Court noted this omission in its order
issued on August 2019 when it considered whether disputed
discovery should be permitted “related to other
accidents to other accidents or other bad acts [to determine]
whether the plaintiff is entitled to punitive damages.”
(Doc. 21 at 1-2) However, the Court found the discovery to be
“irrelevant because the plaintiff has not sought
punitive damages in this case.” Id. at 2.
deposition, Gossard reported that Knight was aware of the
loss of his spot mirror because he had been documented it
during pre-trip inspections as a safety defect in need of
repair. (Doc. 33 at 2.) It is undisputed that at the time of
the accident, Knight had not made this repair and the spot
mirror was not in place. (Doc. 33 at 2.)
October 21, 2019, Plaintiff filed a motion for leave to file
a first amended complaint now before the Court. (Doc. 33.)
Defendants filed their opposition to the motion on November
18, 2019 (Doc. 34), to which Plaintiff filed a reply on
November 25, 2019 (Doc. 35).
courts must enter scheduling orders in actions to "limit
the time to join other parties, amend the pleadings, complete
discovery, and file motions." Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(3). In
addition, scheduling orders may "modify the timing of
disclosures" and "modify the extent of
discovery." Id. Once entered by the court, a
scheduling order "controls the course of the action
unless the court modifies it." Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(d).
Scheduling orders are intended to alleviate case management
problems. Johnson v. Mammoth Recreations, Inc., 975
F.2d 604, 610 (9th Cir. 1992). As such, a scheduling order is
"the heart of case management." Koplove v. Ford
Motor Co., 795 F.2d 15, 18 (3rd Cir. 1986).
scheduling orders are "not a frivolous piece of paper,
idly entered, which can be cavalierly disregarded by counsel
without peril." Johnson, 975 F.2d at 610
(quoting Gestetner Corp. v. Case Equip. Co., 108
F.R.D. 138, 141 (D. Maine 1985)). Good cause must be shown
for modification of the scheduling order. Fed.R.Civ.P.
16(b)(4). The Ninth Circuit explained:
Rule 16(b)'s "good cause" standard primarily
considers the diligence of the party seeking the amendment.
The 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 a grant of relief. Although existence of a degree of
prejudice to the party opposing the modification might supply
additional reasons to deny a motion, the focus of the ...