United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS' UNOPPOSED MOTION FOR
LEAVE TO FILE AN AMENDED COMPLAINT ORDER VACATING HEARING SET
FOR DECEMBER 18, 2019 (ECF NO. 41)
before the Court is Plaintiffs' motion for leave to file
a second amended complaint. (ECF No. 41.) Defendants have
not filed any opposition to the motion and the deadline to do
so has expired. The Court finds the matter suitable for
decision without oral argument and shall vacate the hearing
set for December 18, 2019 on the Motion to
Amend. See Local Rule 230(g). Having
considered the moving papers, the attached declaration, as
well as the Court's file, the Court issues the following
order granting the motion for leave to amend.
August 1, 2018, J.M, a minor at the time of filing, Nora
Morelos, and Yakira Morelos (“Plaintiffs”) filed
the complaint in this action. (ECF No. 1.) Following the
Court's granting an unopposed motion for leave to file a
first amended complaint, this action is currently proceeding
on Plaintiffs' first amended complaint filed on March 7,
2019. (ECF No. 30.) On November 1, 2019, the Court ordered
Plaintiff J.M. to either file evidence that Plaintiff
J.M.'s stated guardian ad litem was in fact appointed
under state law, or file a motion for appointment of a
guardian ad litem, within ten days of entry of the order.
(ECF No. 37.) On November 13, 2019, the Court ordered
Plaintiff J.M. to show cause in writing why he should not be
dismissed from the action for failure to comply with the
Court's November 1, 2019 order. (ECF No. 40.) On the same
date, Plaintiffs filed the instant motion seeking leave from
the Court to file a second amended complaint which names
Plaintiff J.M. as an adult individual and removes any
reference to a guardian ad litem. (Pls.' Mot. Leave File
Sec. Am. Compl. (“Mot.”), ECF No. 41.) The Court
subsequently discharged the order to show cause based on the
filing of the motion to file an amended complaint. (ECF No.
43.) The deadline to file an opposition to Plaintiffs'
motion has expired and Defendants have not filed any
opposition to the motion to amend.
district court has entered a pretrial scheduling order
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16 setting a
deadline for amending pleadings, the district court is to
first apply Rule 16's standard for amending the
scheduling order if the deadline to amend has passed.
Johnson v. Mammoth Recreations, Inc., 975 F.2d 604,
607-08 (9th Cir. 1992); United States ex rel. Terry v.
Wasatch Advantage Grp., LLC, 327 F.R.D. 395, 403 (E.D.
Cal. 2018). If the party seeking amendment can satisfy the
good cause standard of Rule 16(b), the district court then
must determine whether the moving party has satisfied the
requirements of Rule 15(a). Wasatch, 327 F.R.D. At
The Rule 16(b) Good Cause Standard
Rule of Civil Procedure 16(b) provides that the district
court must issue a scheduling order that limits “the
time to join other parties, amend the pleadings, complete
discovery, and file motions.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
16(b)(1)-(3). A scheduling order “may be modified only
for good cause and with the judge's consent.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(4). The “good cause” standard
“primarily considers the diligence of the party seeking
the amendment.” Mammoth Recreations, 975 F.2d
at 609. To establish good cause, the party seeking the
modification of a scheduling order must generally show that
even with the exercise of due diligence, they cannot meet the
requirement of that order. Id. The prejudice to
other parties, if any, may be considered, but the focus is on
the moving party's reason for seeking the modification.
Id. If the party seeking to amend the scheduling
order fails to show due diligence, the inquiry should end and
the court should not grant the motion to modify. Zivkovic
v. Southern California Edison, Co., 302 F.3d 1080, 1087
(9th Cir. 2002) (citing Mammoth Recreations, 975
F.2d at 609). “Relevant inquiries [into diligence]
include: whether the movant was diligent in helping the court
to create a workable Rule 16 order; whether matters that were
not, and could not have been, foreseeable at the time of the
scheduling conference caused the need for amendment; and
whether the movant was diligent in seeking amendment once the
need to amend became apparent.” Wasatch, 327
F.R.D. at 404 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted)
(alteration in original).
The Rule 15 Standard for Amending Pleadings
Plaintiff can meet the good cause standard to modify the
scheduling order under Rule 16, Plaintiff must then satisfy
the standards under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a).
Wasatch, 327 F.R.D. at 403-04. Twenty-one days after
a responsive pleading or a motion to dismiss is filed, a
party may amend only by leave of the court or by written
consent of the adverse party. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1)-(2).
“Rule 15(a) is very liberal and leave to amend
‘shall be freely given when justice so requires.'
” Amerisource Bergen Corp. v. Dialysis West,
Inc., 465 F.3d 946, 951 (9th Cir. 2006) (quoting
Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)); see also Eminence Capital, LLC v.
Aspeon, Inc., 316 F.3d 1048, 1052 (9th Cir. 2003)
(noting leave should be granted with “extreme
liberality”) (quoting Owens v. Kaiser Found. Health
Plan, Inc., 244 F.3d 708, 712 (9th Cir.2001)). Leave to
amend under Rule 15 is “within the sound discretion of
the trial court, ” and “[i]n 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).
determining whether to grant leave to amend, a court is to
consider five factors: “(1) bad faith; (2) undue delay;
(3) prejudice to the opposing party; (4) futility of
amendment; and (5) whether the plaintiff has previously
amended his complaint.” Nunes v. Ashcroft, 375
F.3d 805, 808 (9th Cir. 2004). The factors are not weighed
equally. “Futility of amendment can, by itself, justify
the denial of a motion for leave to amend.”
Bonin, 59 F.3d at 845. Undue delay, “by itself
. . . is insufficient to justify denying a motion to
amend.” Owens, 244 F.3d at 712 (quotation
marks omitted) (quoting Bowles v. Reade, 198 F.3d
752, 757-58 (9th Cir. 1999)). “[I]t is the
consideration of prejudice to the opposing party that carries
the greatest weight.” Eminence Capital, 316
F.3d at 1052. “Absent prejudice, or a strong showing of
any of the remaining [ ] factors, there exists a
presumption under Rule 15(a) in favor of granting
leave to amend.” Id.
the Court's scheduling order set the deadline to file
amended pleadings as March 22, 2019 (ECF No. 21 at 2), the
Court will first determine whether Plaintiff has demonstrated
good cause pursuant to Rule 16. See Wasatch, 327
F.R.D. at 403. Plaintiffs state that good cause exists
because Plaintiff J.M. was a minor at the time of the filing
of the lawsuit and recently became of majority age during the
litigation and thus no longer requires a guardian ad litem.
(Mot. 3; Decl. Patrick Buelna Supp. Pls.' Mot.
(“Buelna Decl”) ¶ 2, ECF No. 41-1.)
Plaintiffs' motion was filed in response to the
Court's November 1, 2019 order requiring Plaintiff J.M.
to either file evidence that Plaintiff J.M.'s stated
guardian ad litem was in fact appointed under state law, or
file a motion for appointment of a guardian ad litem. (ECF
No. 37.) Plaintiffs acknowledge that the instant motion was
not filed until two days after the ten-day deadline imposed
by the Court in the November 1, 2019 order. (Mot. 5; Buelna
Decl. ¶ 3.) Plaintiffs state it was filed late because
of a clerical error and argues Plaintiffs have diligently met
other deadlines in this action. (Id.) Defendants
have not submitted any opposition to Plaintiffs' motion
and the Court cannot discern any compelling reason to deny
leave to amend the complaint beyond the deadline set in the
scheduling order, given the limited purposes of changing
Plaintiff J.M's name to reflect he is longer a minor and
removing any reference to a guardian ad litem.
Court now turns to the question of whether leave to amend
should be granted under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
15(a). Wasatch, 327 F.R.D. at 403-04. “[I]t is
the consideration of prejudice to the opposing party that
carries the greatest weight.” Eminence
Capital, 316 F.3d at 1052. “Absent prejudice, or a
strong showing of any of the remaining [ ] factors, there
exists a presumption under Rule 15(a) in favor of
granting leave to amend.” Id. The burden to
demonstrate prejudice falls upon the party opposing the
amendment. DCD Programs, Ltd. v. Leighton, 833 F.2d
183, 187 (9th Cir. 1987).
seek to amend the complaint only for the limited purposes of
changing the name of Plaintiff J.M., previously a minor and
now of majority age, and to remove the reference to a
guardian ad litem. In this instance, given no defendant has
filed any opposition to the motion to amend, the Court finds
that granting Plaintiffs' motion to amend would not
prejudice Defendants. There is no evidence the motion was
brought in bad faith nor does it produce undue delay in the
litigation. Cf. Lockheed Martin Corp. v. Network
Solutions, Inc., 194 F.3d 980, 986 (9th Cir. 1999)
(explaining that where a motion to amend was made more than
four months after the cutoff date, “[a] need to reopen
discovery and therefore delay the proceedings supports a
district court's finding of prejudice.”). Moreover,
there is no reason to believe that ...