Jackson, et al. v. Regents of the University of California

Filing 17

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER signed by District Judge Morrison C. England, Jr. on 3/22/2017 DENYING 12 Amended Motion for Leave to Amend the Complaint. (Michel, G.)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 12 13 LAQUISHA JACKSON, an individual; and A.W., a minor by and through his mother and natural guardian, LAQUISHA JACKSON, Plaintiffs, 14 MEMORANDUM AND ORDER v. 15 16 No. 2:15-cv-02595-MCE-EFB REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, 17 Defendant. 18 19 Through this action, Plaintiff Laquisha Jackson seeks relief from Defendant 20 Regents of the University of California (“the University”) on behalf of herself and her son, 21 arising from the termination of her employment. Specifically, Jackson alleges that the 22 University improperly fired her as a result of taking intermittent leave to care for her 23 autistic son. In their Complaint, ECF No. 2, Plaintiffs set out nine causes of action based 24 on the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 2601–2654; the Americans with 25 Disability Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101–12213; unlawful racial discrimination under 26 42 U.S.C. § 1981; California’s Fair Employment Housing Act (“FEHA”), Cal. Gov’t Code 27 §§ 12900–12996; and state tort law. 28 /// 1 1 Presently before the Court is Plaintiffs’ Amended Motion for Leave to Amend the 2 Complaint, ECF No. 12, in which Plaintiffs seek to add additional claims under FEHA. 3 For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiffs’ motion is DENIED.1 4 5 BACKGROUND2 6 7 Jackson worked as a senior custodian at the University of California Davis 8 Medical Center (“UCDMC”) from 2003 until her termination in 2015. Jackson’s son, 9 A.W., was diagnosed in 2005 with autism and developmental disabilities. A.W. is 14 10 years old, but his cognition is estimated to be that of a five-year old. A.W. is prone to 11 violent tantrums and episodes of emotional distress, which require Jackson’s immediate 12 presence to calm him down. Several times during her employment at UCDMC, she 13 applied for leave under the FMLA to care for her son. Jackson also attempted to join a 14 different career track at UCDMC that would provide her more flexibility to care for her 15 son. 16 Twice in 2014, Jackson’s applications for leave under the FMLA were rejected. 17 Plaintiffs allege that these rejections were improper for various reasons. In February 18 2015, UCDMC initiated the process of firing Jackson due to poor attendance and 19 ultimately terminated her. In response, Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit on December 11, 20 2015. On April 1, 2016, Defendant filed an Answer, ECF No. 7, and the Court entered 21 an Initial Pretrial Scheduling Order on May 3, 2016, ECF No. 9. About seven and a half 22 months later, Plaintiffs made the instant motion, seeking leave to add to their complaint 23 three additional causes of action under FEHA based on discrimination Jackson allegedly 24 suffered because of her association with a disabled person. 25 /// 26 27 1 Because oral argument will not be of material assistance, the Court ordered this matter submitted on the briefs. E.D. Cal. Local R. 230(g). 2 28 Unless otherwise noted, the allegations in this section are drawn directly, and in some cases verbatim, from the allegations of Plaintiffs’ Complaint 2 1 STANDARD 2 Generally, a motion to amend is subject to Rule 15(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil 3 4 Procedure,3 which provides that “[t]he court should freely give leave [to amend] when 5 justice so requires.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2). However, “[o]nce the district court ha[s] 6 filed a pretrial scheduling order pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16[,] which 7 establishe[s] a timetable for amending pleadings[,] that rule’s standards control[ ].” 8 Johnson v. Mammoth Recreations, Inc., 975 F.2d 604, 607–08 (9th Cir. 1992); see also 9 In re W. States Wholesale Nat. Gas Antitrust Litig., 715 F.3d 716, 737 (9th Cir. 2013) 10 (relying on Johnson for the same principle). Rule 16(b) requires a party seeking leave to amend to demonstrate “good cause.” 11 12 Fed. R. Civ. P. 16(b). “Rule 16(b)’s ‘good cause’ standard primarily considers the 13 diligence of the party seeking amendment.” Johnson, 975 F.2d at 609. “If that party was 14 not diligent, the inquiry should end.” Id. Although “the focus of the inquiry is upon the 15 moving party's reasons for seeking modification,” a court may make its determination by 16 noting the prejudice to other parties. Id. If good cause is found, the court must then evaluate the request to amend in light 17 18 of Rule 15(a)’s liberal standard. Id. at 608. Leave to amend should be granted unless 19 amendment: (1) would cause prejudice to the opposing party, (2) is sought in bad faith, 20 (3) creates undue delay, (4) or is futile. Chudacoff v. Univ. Med. Ctr. of S. Nev., 21 649 F.3d 1143, 1153 (9th Cir. 2011) (citing Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962)). 22 “Because Rule 16(b)’s ‘good cause’ inquiry essentially incorporates the first three 23 factors, if a court finds that good cause exists, it should then deny a motion for leave to 24 amend only if such amendment would be futile.” Baisa v. Indymac Fed. Reserve, 25 No. CIV. 2:09-1464 WBS JFM, 2010 WL 2348736, at *1 (E.D. Cal. June 7, 2010). 26 /// 27 28 3 All further references to “Rule” or “Rules” are to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure unless otherwise noted. 3 1 ANALYSIS 2 When filing their motion, Plaintiffs relied on Rule 15. See Mot. for Leave to 3 4 Amend, at 2. However, as noted above, a Pretrial Scheduling Order issued several 5 months prior to Plaintiffs filing their motion. Thus, Plaintiffs’ motion must be analyzed 6 under Rule 16, and the Court construes the motion as having been made under that 7 Rule. Plaintiffs argue that Rule 16’s good cause standard has been met because they 8 9 have been diligent and that Defendant would suffer no prejudice if the Court granted 10 leave to amend the complaint. See Pls.’ Reply, ECF No. 15, at 3–5. Though good 11 cause “primarily considers the diligence of the party seeking the amendment,” Johnson, 12 975 F.2d at 609, mere diligence is not sufficient. Good cause requires a showing that 13 the pretrial scheduling order “cannot reasonably be met despite the diligence of the party 14 seeking the extension.” Id. 15 According to Plaintiffs, the impetus for their motion is the California Court of 16 Appeal’s August 29, 2016, decision in Castro-Ramirez v. Dependable Highway Express, 17 Inc., 2 Cal. App. 5th 1028 (2016). Plaintiffs argue that this decision “broadened the 18 scope of an employer’s duty to accommodate employees who are associated with a 19 disabled person.” Mot. for Leave to Amend, at 4. Plaintiffs’ new FEHA claims arise out 20 of this supposed newly broadened view of FEHA. However, Castro-Ramirez did not broaden FEHA. In fact, it explicitly disclaimed 21 22 deciding the “new” law Plaintiffs rely on. See id. at 1038 (“[W]e do not decide whether 23 FEHA establishes a separate duty to reasonably accommodate employees who 24 associate with a disabled person.”). The court only wrote, in dicta, that Plaintiffs’ reading 25 of FEHA may be a reasonable one. Id. at 1038–39. Furthermore, the discussion in 26 Castro-Ramirez relies on prior caselaw that was available to Plaintiffs when they filed 27 their original complaint. Accordingly, Plaintiffs have not shown that the pretrial 28 /// 4 1 scheduling order could not “reasonably be met despite the diligence of” Plaintiffs. 2 Therefore, Plaintiffs have failed to show good cause, and their motion must be denied. 3 4 CONCLUSION 5 6 7 8 9 For the reasons provided above, Plaintiffs’ Amended Motion for Leave to Amend the Complaint, ECF No. 12, is DENIED. IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: March 22, 2017 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 5

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