Cooks v. Contra Costa County

Filing 40

ORDER by Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton granting 33 Motion to Amend/Correct. (pjhlc1S, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 10/14/2020)

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Case 4:20-cv-02695-PJH Document 40 Filed 10/14/20 Page 1 of 3 1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 7 PETER JAMES COOKS, v. 9 10 ORDER GRANTING RENEWED MOTION FOR LEAVE TO AMEND CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, Re: Dkt. No. 33 Defendant. 11 United States District Court Northern District of California Case No. 20-cv-02695-PJH Plaintiff, 8 12 13 Before the court is plaintiff Peter Cooks’ renewed motion to file an amended 14 15 complaint. The matter is fully briefed1 and suitable for decision without oral argument. 16 Having read the parties’ papers and carefully considered their arguments and the 17 relevant legal authority, and good cause appearing, the court hereby rules as follows. On August 6, 2020, this court granted defendant Contra Costa County’s motion to 18 19 dismiss and dismissed both of plaintiff’s claims with leave to amend. Dkt. 24 at 6. The 20 court ordered plaintiff to file an amended complaint with 21 days of the date of the order 21 and further ordered plaintiff’s counsel to file proof of admission to practice within the 22 same time period. Id. Plaintiff missed the filing deadline by one day and filed a motion 23 for leave to amend, (Dkt. 27), which the court denied without prejudice, (Dkt. 29). Plaintiff 24 now brings a renewed motion to file an amended complaint. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(2) requires that a plaintiff obtain either 25 26 consent of the defendant or leave of court to amend his complaint, but “leave shall be 27 28 1 Plaintiff declined to file a reply brief within the timeframe provided for by the Civil Local Rules. Case 4:20-cv-02695-PJH Document 40 Filed 10/14/20 Page 2 of 3 1 freely given when justice so requires.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a); see, e.g., Chodos v. W. 2 Pub. Co., 292 F.3d 992, 1003 (9th Cir. 2002). This policy is “to be applied with extreme 3 liberality.” Eminence Capital, LLC v. Aspeon, Inc., 316 F.3d 1048, 1051 (9th Cir. 2003). 4 The “party opposing amendment ‘bears the burden of showing prejudice.’” Id. at 1052 5 (quoting DCD Programs, Ltd. v. Leighton, 833 F.2d 183, 185 (9th Cir. 1987)). Leave to amend is thus ordinarily granted unless the amendment is futile, would 7 cause undue prejudice to the defendants, or is sought by plaintiffs in bad faith or with a 8 dilatory motive. Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962); Smith v. Pac. Props. & Dev. 9 Corp., 358 F.3d 1097, 1101 (9th Cir. 2004). While the court should consider all those 10 factors, “the crucial factor is the resulting prejudice to the opposing party.” Howey v. 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 6 United States, 481 F.2d 1187, 1190 (9th Cir. 1973). 12 As an initial matter, the court denied plaintiff’s previous motion for leave to amend 13 because plaintiff’s counsel repeatedly failed to heed the court’s admonition to 14 demonstrate admission to practice before this court. Dkt. 29 at 1–2. Plaintiff’s counsel 15 has now met the requirements to appear pro hac vice in this action. Dkt. 31. The court 16 also denied the motion because plaintiff added a cause of action under the Rehabilitation 17 Act without permission of defendant or the court. Dkt. 29 at 2. In his renewed motion, 18 plaintiff addresses his Rehabilitation Act claim and argues that he meets the 19 requirements for Rule 15. Dkt. 33 at 1–2. 20 Defendant opposes the motion arguing that amendment is futile and urges the 21 court to apply the same test as Rule 12(b)(6). Dkt. 37 at 1–2. Absent from defendant’s 22 opposition is any contention that it will suffer undue prejudice, that plaintiff’s motion is in 23 bad faith, or is otherwise dilatory. As a general rule, this court normally does not rule on 24 the futility of an amendment at the motion to amend stage unless the proposed 25 amendment is clearly and unambiguously futile. See Overpeck v. FedEx Corp., 2020 WL 26 2542030, at *4 (N.D. Cal. May 19, 2020). “In general, the futility of amendment is better 27 tested in a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim or a summary judgment motion.” 28 Bd. of Trs. of the Auto. Indus. Welfare Fund v. Groth Oldsmobile/Chevrolet, Inc., 2010 2 Case 4:20-cv-02695-PJH Document 40 Filed 10/14/20 Page 3 of 3 1 WL 760452, at *3 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 4, 2010). In this case, the court cannot say that 2 amendment is clearly and unambiguously futile. Defendant may, of course, reassert its 3 arguments in a motion to dismiss or motion for summary judgment. 4 In sum, “[t]he standard for granting leave to amend is generous.” United States v. 5 Corinthian Colls., 655 F.3d 984, 995 (9th Cir. 2011) (quoting Balistreri v. Pacifica Police 6 Dep’t, 901 F.2d 696, 701 (9th Cir. 1990)). Defendant has not met its burden to deny 7 leave to amend. Accordingly, plaintiff’s renewed motion for leave to amend is 8 GRANTED. Plaintiff shall file his proposed amended complaint, (Dkt. 27-1), within seven 9 days of the date this order is filed. 10 IT IS SO ORDERED. United States District Court Northern District of California 11 12 13 Dated: October 14, 2020 /s/ Phyllis J. Hamilton PHYLLIS J. HAMILTON United States District Judge 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 3

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