Jason Call v. Sa Matt Badgley et al

Northern District of California, cand-4:2015-cv-03353

ORDER by Judge Haywood S. Gilliam, Jr. GRANTING MOTION FOR LEAVE TO AMEND COMPLAINT.

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1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 JASON CALL, 7 Case No. 15-cv-03353-HSG Plaintiff, 8 ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR v. LEAVE TO AMEND COMPLAINT 9 SA MATT BADGLEY, et al., Re: Dkt. No. 58 10 Defendants. 11 12 Northern District of California United States District Court 13 Pending before the Court is Plaintiff Jason Call's motion for leave to amend the first 14 amended complaint to add Blake Massaro as a defendant. Dkt. No. 58 ("Mot."). Having 15 considered Plaintiff's motion, Defendant's opposition, and all related papers, the Court finds the 16 matter appropriate for decision without oral argument. See Civil L.R. 7-1(b). For the reasons 17 articulated below, the motion is GRANTED. 18 I. BACKGROUND 19 On June 1, 2015, Plaintiff filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action in Humboldt County Superior 20 Court. Dkt. No. 1 at 6. The action arises out of an incident with the Humboldt County Sheriff's 21 Department in which Defendant law enforcement officers arrested Plaintiff, who alleges he is a 22 lawful medical marijuana user, in a drug raid. Dkt. No. 34. Subsequent to the raid, the search 23 warrants that Defendants used were quashed for lack of probable cause, and the case against 24 Plaintiff was dismissed. Id. Plaintiff's first amended complaint ("FAC") asserts twelve causes of 25 action, including unreasonable use of force, unlawful search, unlawful seizure, false arrest, and 26 failure to train. Id. 27 Before Plaintiff filed his FAC, the parties met and conferred regarding Plaintiff's belief 28 that Massaro was the "Unnamed Agent/Deputy" who "pointed an automatic rifle at [Plaintiff's] 1 chest" during Plaintiff's arrest. Dkt. No. 58 ("Mitlyng Decl.") ¶ 3; Dkt. No. 34 ¶¶ 24, 40. 2 Defense counsel spoke with Massaro and informed Plaintiff's counsel that Massaro had no 3 recollection of participating in the incident and was not on the roster of officers who searched 4 Plaintiff's home. Mitlyng Decl. ¶¶ 4-5. Consequently, Plaintiff's counsel filed the FAC without 5 naming Massaro as a defendant and continued to investigate the identity of the Unnamed 6 Agent/Deputy. Id. ¶ 6. 7 On June 10, 2016, Plaintiff encountered Massaro at a social event. Dkt. No. 58-1 ¶¶ 15-16. 8 After viewing Massaro from three to four feet away, Plaintiff says he is confident that Massaro is 9 the Unnamed Agent/Deputy who pointed the rifle at Plaintiff's chest. Id.; Mitlyng Decl. ¶ 8. 10 Despite an additional meet and confer, the parties were unable to reach a stipulation to add 11 Massaro as a defendant. Mitlyng Decl. ¶¶ 11-12. 12 II. DISCUSSION Northern District of California United States District Court 13 Plaintiff moves for leave to amend the FAC to add Massaro as the Unnamed Agent/Deputy 14 described therein. See Mot. In response, Defendants acknowledge the Ninth Circuit's liberal 15 policy of permitting amendments, but represent that they will seek sanctions against Plaintiff 16 because any amendment to add Massaro cannot be filed in good faith. Dkt. No. 59. 17 A. Legal Standard 18 Under Federal Rule of Procedure 15(a), leave to amend "should be freely granted when 19 justice so requires." M/V Am. Queen v. San Diego Marine Const. Corp., 708 F.2d 1483, 1492 (9th 20 Cir. 1983). The five factors relevant to determining proper amendment are: (1) bad faith, (2) 21 undue delay, (3) prejudice to the opposing party, (4) futility of amendment, and (5) previous 22 amendments. Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962). The Court weighs prejudice to the 23 opposing party most heavily. Eminence Capital, LLC v. Aspeon, Inc., 316 F.3d 1048, 1052 (9th 24 Cir. 2003). "Absent prejudice, or a strong showing of any of the remaining Foman factors, there 25 exists a presumption under Rule 15(a) in favor of granting leave to amend." Id. (emphasis in 26 original). 27 B. Analysis 28 On the current record, amendment of the FAC to add Massaro as a defendant should be 2 1 allowed under the liberal standard in this circuit. The Court finds no evidence of bad faith or 2 undue delay on the part of Plaintiff. Plaintiff's counsel informed defense counsel of Plaintiff's 3 belief that Massaro participated in his arrest prior to filing the FAC. Mitlyng Decl. ¶ 3. 4 Moreover, after being informed that there was no evidence that Massaro participated in Plaintiff's 5 arrest, Plaintiff's counsel filed the FAC without naming Massaro in order further investigate the 6 identity of the Unnamed Agent/Deputy. Id. ¶¶ 4-6. It was not until Plaintiff saw Massaro at an 7 event that Plaintiff's counsel sought to name Massaro as a defendant. Mitlyng Decl. ¶ 8. 8 Most importantly, the Court also finds no evidence that amendment would prejudice 9 Massaro or the other Defendants in this action. Defense counsel represents Massaro and has 10 participated in this action since its inception. See id. ¶ 12. Furthermore, Massaro has been on 11 notice regarding his alleged involvement in Plaintiff's arrest since before Plaintiff filed the FAC, 12 see id. ¶ 3, and discovery has not yet been completed, see Dkt. No. 57. If, as he represents, Northern District of California United States District Court 13 Massaro did not participate in Plaintiff's arrest, defense counsel will have ample opportunity to 14 establish that fact through discovery. 15 Finally, the Court cannot conclude that amendment would be futile, and Plaintiff has only 16 amended his complaint once before. 17 Accordingly, the Court finds that Defendants have failed to overcome the presumption in 18 favor of leave to amend under Rule 15(a) and GRANTS Plaintiff's motion to amend. 19 III. CONCLUSION 20 For the aforementioned reasons, the Court finds amendment of the complaint to add 21 Massaro as a defendant appropriate and GRANTS Plaintiff's motion for leave to amend the 22 complaint. Plaintiff may file a second amended complaint that names Blake Massaro as the 23 Unnamed Agent/Deputy within 7 days of this Order. 24 // 25 // 26 // 27 // 28 3 1 Within 30 days of the date of this Order, the parties shall file a proposed case schedule that 2 includes the completion of fact discovery by the end of December 2016 and a trial date beginning 3 around May 30, 2017. See Dkt. No. 57. 4 IT IS SO ORDERED. 5 Dated: September 13, 2016 6 ______________________________________ HAYWOOD S. GILLIAM, JR. 7 United States District Judge 8 9 10 11 12 Northern District of California United States District Court 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 4