Orion Wine Imports, LLC et al v. Appelsmith

Filing 31

ORDER signed by District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller on 10/1/2018 GRANTING 17 Motion to Amend the Complaint and DIRECTING Plaintiffs to file their second amended complaint 21 days of the date this order is filed. Defendant's 15 Motion to Dismiss is DENIED AS MOOT with leave to refile upon the filing of a second amended complaint. The court VACATES the hearing on those motions and RESETS the status (pretrial scheduling) conference for 12/13/2018, at 02:30 PM, in Courtroom 3 (KJM), before District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller. The parties shall file a joint status report 7 days prior to the new date of the status conference. (York, M)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 12 ORION WINE IMPORTS, LLC and PETER E. CREIGHTON, Plaintiffs, 13 ORDER v. 14 15 16 No. 2:18-cv-01721-KJM-DB JACOB APPLESMITH, in his official capacity as Director of the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, 17 Defendant. 18 Two motions are currently before the court: a motion for leave to file a second 19 20 amended complaint filed by plaintiffs Orion Wine Imports, LLC and Peter Creighton, ECF No. 21 17-1, and a motion to dismiss the First Amended Complaint filed by defendant Jacob Applesmith, 22 Director of the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, ECF No. 15-1. The parties 23 have filed oppositions, Pls.’ Opp’n, ECF No. 19; Def.’s Opp’n, ECF No. 20, and plaintiffs have 24 replied, ECF No. 21. The court finds the motions appropriate for decision without oral argument. 25 As explained below, the court GRANTS plaintiffs’ motion for leave to file a second amended 26 complaint. 27 ///// 28 ///// 1 1 I. 2 BACKGROUND This action brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 challenges the constitutionality of 3 California Business & Professions Code § 23361. Compl., ECF No. 1. On July 10, 2018, before 4 defendant filed an answer, plaintiffs filed their First Amended Complaint. ECF No. 10. On 5 August 1, 2018, defendant moved to dismiss. ECF No. 15-1. On August 10, 2018, while 6 defendant’s motion to dismiss was pending, plaintiffs filed a motion seeking leave to file a second 7 amended complaint. ECF No. 17-1. Plaintiffs wish to amend to correct typographical errors in 8 their First Amended Complaint. ECF No. 17-1 at 2. Specifically, plaintiffs misidentified 9 California Business & Professions Code § 23661 as § 23361 and California Business & 10 Professions Code § 23374 as § 23774. ECF No. 17-1 at 2. 11 II. 12 LEGAL STANDARD Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(2) states “[t]he court should freely give 13 leave [to amend a pleading] when justice so requires.” The Ninth Circuit has “stressed Rule 15’s 14 policy of favoring amendments.” Ascon Properties, Inc. v. Mobil Oil Co., 866 F.2d 1149, 1160 15 (9th Cir. 1989). “In exercising its discretion [regarding granting or denying leave to amend] ‘a 16 court must be guided by the underlying purpose of Rule 15—to facilitate decision on the merits 17 rather than on the pleadings or technicalities.’” DCD Programs, Ltd. v. Leighton, 833 F.2d 183, 18 186 (9th Cir. 1987) (quoting United States v. Webb, 655 F.2d 977, 979 (9th Cir. 1981)). 19 However, “the liberality in granting leave to amend is subject to several limitations. Leave need 20 not be granted where the amendment of the complaint would cause the opposing party undue 21 prejudice, is sought in bad faith, constitutes an exercise in futility, or creates undue delay.” Ascon 22 Properties, 866 F.2d at 1160 (internal citation omitted). In addition, a court should look to 23 whether the plaintiff has previously amended the complaint, as “the district court’s discretion is 24 especially broad ‘where the court has already given a plaintiff one or more opportunities to amend 25 [its] complaint.’” Id. at 1161 (alteration original) (quoting Leighton, 833 F.2d at 186 n.3). 26 III. 27 28 DISCUSSION In opposition to plaintiffs’ motion, defendant asserts “the timing and substantial nature of Plaintiffs’ proposed amendments unduly prejudice Defendant.” ECF No. 20 at 1. 2 1 Defendant argues he “may have unnecessarily and prematurely presented merit-based arguments” 2 in his motion to dismiss plaintiffs’ First Amended Complaint that “Plaintiffs now have several 3 opportunities to attack.” ECF No. 20 at 3. Defendant also argues he lacks fair notice of 4 plaintiffs’ claims and will not have a fair and full opportunity to analyze the operative complaint 5 and prepare an appropriate response before the parties’ initial status conference and disclosures if 6 the court grants plaintiffs’ motion. ECF No. 20 at 3. Finally, defendant asserts that plaintiffs 7 have had two opportunities to properly identify the appropriate statutory provisions. ECF No. 20 8 at 5. 9 Because courts “should liberally allow a party to amend its pleading,” Sonoma 10 Cty. Ass’n of Retired Employees v. Sonoma Cty., 708 F.3d 1109, 1117 (9th Cir. 2013), denial of 11 amendment is warranted only if “there is strong evidence of ‘undue delay, bad faith or dilatory 12 motive on the part of the movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously 13 allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing party by virtue of allowance of the amendment, [or] 14 futility of amendment, etc.’” Id. (alteration original) (quoting Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 15 (1962)). 16 Here, the court finds granting plaintiffs leave to amend to be in the interest of 17 justice. Plaintiffs plausibly represent that their misidentification of the appropriate statutory 18 provisions in the First Amended Complaint are the result of “typographical errors.” ECF No. 17- 19 1 at 2. Granting plaintiffs’ motion would therefore serve the purpose of Rule 15 by “facilitat[ing] 20 decision on the merits.” DCD Programs, 833 F.2d at 186. In addition, defendant has not 21 identified “strong evidence” that plaintiffs’ motion would cause undue delay or undue prejudice 22 to defendant at this early stage of the proceedings. In light of the Federal Rules’ policy of 23 favoring amendments and having weighed the various interests, the court grants plaintiffs’ motion 24 for leave to amend the First Amended Complaint. Although plaintiffs’ motion does not appear to 25 reflect an attempt at gamesmanship, that plaintiffs did not correct their typographical errors when 26 they filed their First Amended Complaint does evidence significant inattention to detail. It also 27 appears plaintiffs’ counsel failed to meet and confer with defense counsel before filing. 28 3 1 Plaintiffs’ counsel is cautioned that failure to comply with court orders in the future will lead to 2 an order to show cause why sanctions should not be imposed. 3 IV. CONCLUSION 4 For the foregoing reasons, the court orders as follows: 5 (1) Plaintiffs’ motion for leave to file a second amended complaint, ECF No. 17-1, 6 is GRANTED. Plaintiffs are ordered to file their second amended complaint 7 within twenty-one (21) days of the date this order is filed. 8 (2) Defendant’s motion to dismiss, ECF No. 15-1, is DENIED AS MOOT with 9 leave to refile upon the filing of a second amended complaint. 10 (3) The court VACATES the hearing on defendant’s motion to dismiss and 11 plaintiffs’ motion to amend scheduled for October 19, 2018, and RESETS the 12 status (pretrial scheduling) conference for December 13, 2018 at 2:30 P.M. The 13 parties shall file a joint status report seven (7) days prior to the new date of the 14 status conference. 15 IT IS SO ORDERED. 16 DATED: October 1, 2018. 17 18 UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 4

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