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Vigil v. Coloplast Corp.

United States District Court, S.D. California

January 8, 2020

BELINDA VIGIL, et al., Plaintiffs,


          Hon. Gonzalo P. Curiel United States District Judge

         Plaintiffs Belinda Vigil and her husband, Juan Vigil, seek leave from the Court to amend their short form complaint to include the Aris-Transobturator Sling System (the “Aris Sling”) as a product at issue. Defendant Coloplast Corporation opposes the amendment. Plaintiffs' motion thus presents two questions for the Court: (1) whether a two-and-a-half-year-old amendment to the complaint that is unlikely to trigger much more discovery is unfairly prejudicial to the Defendant, and (b) whether Plaintiffs' proposed amendment would futilely raise time-barred claims. The Court answers both questions in the negative, and thus GRANTS Plaintiff's request to amend the complaint.

         I. Background

         On October 2, 2015, Plaintiffs filed suit in the Southern District of West Virginia against Defendant alleging seventeen causes of actions arising from Mrs. Vigil's use of two allegedly defective products - Novasilk and Axis Tutoplast. (ECF No. 1.) Plaintiffs' case was filed as part of the pelvic mesh multidistrict litigation In Re: Coloplast Corp., Pelvic Support System Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2387.

         On September 12, 2019, Judge Joseph R. Goodwin, U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of West Virginia, granted Defendant's motion for summary judgment on ten causes of action. (ECF No. 55.) At this time, six causes of action remain: (A) Count IV - Strict Liability (Failure to Warn); (B) Count V - Strict Liability (Defective Product); (C) Count X - Discovery Rule, Rolling and Fraudulent Concealment; (D) Count XII - Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress; (E) Count XV - Unjust Enrichment; and (F) Count XVII - Punitive Damages.[1] (ECF Nos. 1, 55.)

         This matter was transferred to the Southern District of California on September 26, 2019, (ECF No. 66), and was assigned to this Court on September 30, 2019. (ECF No. 69. On October 2, 2019, Defendant Coloplast filed a notice of related cases citing three other cases in this district. (ECF No. 70.) The Court has elected not to consolidate this case with the other three cases.

         Prior to transferring the case to this District, Plaintiffs filed a request to amend the short form complaint to include a third product, the Aris Sling, on May 20, 2019. (ECF Nos. 43, 45.) On June 3, 2019, Defendant filed an opposition to that motion. (ECF No. 54.) Plaintiffs did not file a reply. On November 6, 2019, the Court set a hearing for Plaintiffs' motion on January 10, 2020 at 1:30 p.m. (ECF No. 78.) The Court now GRANTS Plaintiff's motion and vacates the upcoming hearing.[2]

         II. Standard of Review

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (“Rule”) 15(a) provides that, after an initial amendment as of right, a complaint may only be amended “with the opposing party's written consent or the court's leave.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a). Leave to amend should be “freely grant[ed] . . . when justice so requires, ” Hurn v. Ret. Fund Tr. of Plumbing, Heating & Piping Indus. of S. California, 648 F.2d 1252, 1254 (9th Cir. 1981) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)), and this Rule should be interpreted and applied with “extreme liberality.” Morongo Band of Mission Indians v. Rose, 893 F.2d 1074, 1079 (9th Cir. 1990). The “purpose” this standard is “‘to facilitate a proper decision on the merits' . . . and not to erect formal and burdensome impediments in the litigation process.” Howey v. United States, 481 F.2d 1187, 1190 (9th Cir. 1973) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 48 (1957)); see Martinez v. Newport Beach City, 125 F.3d 777, 785 (9th Cir. 1997).

         Courts ordinarily consider five factors when determining whether to grant leave to amend under Rule 15: “(1) bad faith, (2) undue delay, (3) prejudice to the opposing party, (4) futility of amendment, ” and (5) whether the pleadings have previously been amended. Allen v. City of Beverly Hills, 911 F.2d 367, 373 (9th Cir. 1990); Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962). A court need not consider all the other factors, Atkins v. Astrue, No. C 10-0180-PJH, 2011 WL 1335607, at *3 (N.D. Cal. Apr. 7, 2011), and the first factor, undue delay, is insufficient by itself to justify denying leave to amend. Bowles v. Reade, 198 F.3d 752, 758 (9th Cir. 1999). However, at a minimum, a court should address any issues of prejudice as this is the “touchstone of the inquiry under rule 15(a).” Eminence Capital, LLC v. Aspeon, Inc., 316 F.3d 1048, 1052 (9th Cir. 2003).

         The party opposing amendment has the burden of showing that the amendment is not warranted. DCD Programs, Ltd. v. Leighton, 833 F.2d 183, 187 (9th Cir. 1987); see also Richardson v. United States, 841 F.2d 993, 999 (9th Cir.1988), and the Court must grant all inferences in favor of allowing amendment. Griggs v. Pace Am. Group, Inc., 170 F.3d 877, 880 (9th Cir. 1999).

         III. Analysis

         As a threshold matter, the factors of undue delay, bad faith, and prior amendments are determinative of Plaintiff's request. Plaintiffs' request evinces a near-three-year delay to amend the complaint, and their characterization of this delay as “inadvertent” does not amount to good cause. (ECF Nos. 43, 45.) However, “delay alone provides an insufficient ground for denying leave to amend or supplement.” Loehr v. Ventura Cty. Cmty. Coll. Dist., 743 F.2d 1310, 1319-20 (9th Cir. 1984) (citation omitted); see also Howey v. United States, 481 F.2d 1187, 1190-91 (9th Cir. 1973) (granting leave to amend five years after the complaint was filed). In addition, Defendant neither asserts that Plaintiff's request is made in bad faith nor complains of past, repeated amendments. (ECF No. 54.) Consequently, a decision on Plaintiffs' motion turns on prejudice and futility.

         a. Defendant Would not be Unduly Prejudiced by ...

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