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Benanti v. Matevousian

United States District Court, E.D. California

January 6, 2020

MATEVOUSIAN, Defendants.


         Plaintiff Michael Benanti is appearing pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Federal Narcotics Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). This matter was referred to a United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Rule 302. On December 2, 2019, Plaintiff filed a motion to amend the complaint, along with a proposed third amended complaint. (ECF Nos. 82, 83.) Defendants filed an opposition on December 20, 2019. (ECF No. 86.) Plaintiff did not file a reply and the time to do so has expired. Local Rule 230(1).

         Plaintiff seeks to file a third amended complaint under Rule 15, claiming the amendment “clarifies the issues, narrows the time frames and adds other defendants.” (ECF No. 82 at p. 2.)



         Both Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 15 and 16 govern leave to amend in this instance. Rule 16(b) govern the issuance and modification of pretrial scheduling orders while Rule 15(a) govern amendment of pleadings. Both rules will be discussed below.

         A. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16

         Under Rule 16 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a discovery and scheduling order controls the course of litigation unless the Court subsequently alters the original order. Fed R. Civ. P. 16(d). Modification of a scheduling order requires a showing of good cause, Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b), and good cause requires a showing of due diligence, Johnson v. Mammoth Recreations, Inc., 975 F.2d 604, 609 (9th Cir. 1992). 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 court may also consider the prejudice to the party opposing 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). A party may obtain relief from the court's deadline date for discovery by demonstrating good cause for allowing further discovery. Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(4).

         “Good cause may be found to exist where the moving party shows that it diligently assisted the court with creating a workable scheduling order, that it is unable to comply with the scheduling order's deadlines due to matters that could not have reasonably bee foreseen at the time of the issuance of the scheduling order, and that it was diligent in seeking an amendment once it became apparent that the party could not comply with the scheduling order.” Kuschner Nationwide Credit, Inc., 256 F.R.D. 684, 687 (E.D. Cal. 2009).

         In order to demonstrate diligence, Plaintiff must show whether he collaborated with the court in setting a schedule; 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. Johnson, 975 F.2d at 608. “[C]arelessness not compatible with a finding of diligence and offers no reason for a grant of relief.” Id. at 609. The district court is given broad discretion under Rule 16. Id. at 607.

         Plaintiff did not act diligently. According to Plaintiff, the relevant facts in the complaint took place “from October 6, 2017 to October 27, 2017.” (ECF No. 81.) This case was filed two years ago on November 6, 2017. (ECF No. 1.) On December 19, 2017, the Court screened the complaint and granted Plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint. (ECF No. 13.) Plaintiff filed an amended complaint on January 19, 2018. (ECF No. 14.) The Court thereafter ordered serve on January 24, 2018. (ECF No. 15.) After filing an exhaustion-related motion for summary judgment which was denied, Defendants answered the complaint on October 11, 2018. (ECF Nos. 23, 36, 38, 39, 30.)

         On October 16, 2018, the Court issued the discovery and scheduling order, and the deadline to amend the pleadings expired on April 16, 2019. (ECF No. 41.) Therefore, Plaintiff's ability to amend the complaint is governed by Rule 16(b). Plaintiff previously amended his complaint on January 19, 2018. (ECF No. 14.) Plaintiff also filed a motion to amend the complaint on April 15, 2019, which was denied. (ECF Nos. 51, 66.) Plaintiff did not raise the issue of amendment again until it was raised as part of his opposition to Defendants' motion for summary judgment. (ECF Nos. 83, 84.) On December 17, 2019, the Court issued Findings and Recommendations to grant Defendants' motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 85.)

         Plaintiff did not act diligently in seeking to amend and file a third amended complaint. Plaintiff waited until well after the deadline to amend expired by seeking to amend in response to Defendants' motion for summary judgment. The scheduling order specifically warned, “A request for an extension of a deadline set in this order must be filed on or before the expiration of the deadline in question and will only be granted on a showing of good cause.” (ECF No. 41.) Because Plaintiff did not act with due diligence and fails to set forth good cause to allow amendment, at this juncture, Plaintiff's motion must be denied.

         Even if Plaintiff met the due diligence standard under Rule 16(b), Plaintiff's motion to amend must be denied under Rule 15.

         B. Federal Rule of ...

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