Strickland et al v. Ujiri et al

Filing 42

ORDER GRANTING LEAVE TO FILE AN AMENDED JOINT ANSWER AND COUNTERCLAIM; DENYING ADMINISTRATIVE MOTION TO SEAL by Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers granting 35 Motion for Leave to File ; denying as moot 38 Administrative Motion to File Under Seal. The Court VACATES the hearing set September 22, 2020. (fs, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 9/15/2020)

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Case 4:20-cv-00981-YGR Document 42 Filed 09/15/20 Page 1 of 3 1 2 3 4 5 6 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 7 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 8 9 ALAN STRICKLAND AND KELLY STRICKLAND, 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 12 13 14 Plaintiffs, v. MASAI UJIRI; TORONTO RAPTORS; MAPLE LEAF SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT; NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION, Case No. 20-cv-981-YGR ORDER GRANTING LEAVE TO FILE AN AMENDED JOINT ANSWER AND COUNTERCLAIM; DENYING ADMINISTRATIVE MOTION TO SEAL DKT. NO. 35, 38 Defendants. 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 Pending before the Court is the Motion of defendants Masai Ujiri and Toronto Raptors/Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment for Leave to File an Amended Joint Answer and Counterclaim. (Dkt. No. 35.) The only proposed amendment asserts a counterclaim on defendant Ujiri’s behalf against plaintiff Alan Strickland for excessive force pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, assault, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, based upon recently obtained discovery in this matter. In all other respects, defendants’ original Joint Answer remains unchanged. Per the Court’s scheduling order (Dkt. No. 30), any motions to amend pleadings at this point in the proceedings require a showing of good cause pursuant to Rule 16(b)(4). The Court finds such good cause and the motion is GRANTED.1 25 26 27 28 1 Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78(b) and Civil Local Rule 7-1(b), the Court finds this motion appropriate for decision without oral argument. Accordingly, the Court VACATES the hearing set for September 22, 2020. Case 4:20-cv-00981-YGR Document 42 Filed 09/15/20 Page 2 of 3 1 Defendants bring their motion pursuant to Rules 15 and 16(b)(4). A request to amend a 2 pleading after the Court’s deadline for doing so implicates both Rule 15 and 16.2 Rule 16(b) 3 governs the issuance and modification of pretrial scheduling orders, and Rule 15(a) governs 4 amendment of pleadings. Fed. R. Civ. P. 16(b) and 15(a). “Rule 16(b)’ s ‘good cause’ standard 5 primarily considers the diligence of the party seeking the amendment.” Johnson v. Mammoth 6 Recreations, Inc., 975 F.2d 604, 609 (9th Cir. 1992). Under Rule 15(a), “[t]he four factors 7 commonly used to determine the proprietary of a motion for leave to amend are bad faith, undue 8 delay, prejudice to the opposing party, and futility of amendment.” Abels v. JBC Legal Group, 9 P.C., 229 F.R.D. 152, 155-56 (N.D. Cal. 2005) (citing Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962)). 10 Based upon the timing of the discovery responses giving rise to the proposed amendment, United States District Court Northern District of California 11 the Court finds good cause to permit the filing of the proposed amended joint answer and 12 counterclaim pursuant to Rule 16(b)(4). The record indicates no failure of diligence by defendants 13 in seeking leave to amend at this time. On July 21, 2020, plaintiffs served their first document 14 production, which contained several pieces of video footage including that of plaintiff Alan 15 Strickland’s body camera, capturing the alleged encounter from his viewpoint. The motion to 16 amend was filed with reasonable diligence thereafter. 17 The Court further finds no reason to alter the current scheduling order beyond permitting 18 this amendment. Trial is over fourteen months away, beginning on December 13, 2021, and fact 19 and expert discovery deadlines are also several months away, on April 2, 2021 and June 4, 2021, 20 respectively. While plaintiffs suggest that the proposed amendment will require pushing out 21 discovery deadlines and the trial, they do so in only the most conclusory manner. 22 Further, considering the factors applicable to leave to amend under Rule 15, the Court does 23 not find bad faith, undue delay, prejudice to plaintiff, or futility of the proposed amendment. That 24 defendant Ujiri did not file a counterclaim immediately against plaintiff Strickland does not imply 25 bad faith. Strickland does dispute that the video upon which the counterclaim is based was recently 26 2 27 28 See Phillips, J. and Stevenson, J., FED. CIV. PRO. BEFORE TRIAL (Rutter Group Prac. Guide) § 15:32 (“Once the scheduling order deadline has passed, Rule 16(b)(4) requires a party to show ‘good cause’ before being granted leave to amend the pleadings, in addition to the showing required under Rule 15.”) (emphasis in original). 2 Case 4:20-cv-00981-YGR Document 42 Filed 09/15/20 Page 3 of 3 1 produced in discovery. Filing the request to amend thereafter suggests neither bad faith nor undue 2 delay. Further, no prejudice has been shown. Discovery is in its early stages, the discovery 3 deadlines are several months away, and no depositions apparently have been taken by any party. 4 The proposed amendment does not fail on its face to state a claim. The merits analysis Strickland 5 urges is not appropriate on a motion to amend the pleadings. Defendants meet the objective factors 6 for granting leave to amend. 7 With respect to the administrative motion to seal (Dkt. No. 38), the motion is DENIED AS 8 MOOT. Plaintiffs seek to seal documents designated by defendant NBA as confidential pursuant to 9 the protective order entered in this case. Defendant NBA filed a response to the motion (Dkt. No. 40) withdrawing the confidentiality designation as to the document identified as Exhibit 4 to 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 plaintiffs’ administrative motion. Thus, the administrative motion as to Exhibit 4 is moot. 12 Plaintiffs further seek to seal two-and-a-half pages of proposed supplemental briefing based on that 13 document, identified as Exhibit 5 to the administrative motion. The Court has considered the 14 arguments therein and finds that they do not alter the analysis. Plaintiffs are directed to file an 15 unredacted version of the documents on the public docket within 7 days of issuance of this Order. 16 See Civil L. R. 79-5(f)(2). 17 18 Defendants shall file their proposed amended joint answer and counterclaim within 3 court days of issuance of this Order. 19 Plaintiffs shall file their response to the counterclaim within 21 calendar days thereafter. 20 This Order terminates Docket Nos. 35 and 38. 21 IT IS SO ORDERED. 22 23 Date: September 15, 2020 _______________________________________ YVONNE GONZALEZ ROGERS UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE 24 25 26 27 28 3

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