Obesity Research Institute, LLC v. Fiber Research International, LLC et al

Filing 122

ORDER granting Plaintiff's 52 Motion for Leave to File First Amended Complaint. Pla shall file the First Amended Complaint in the form attached as Exhibit 1 to the Declaration of Scott J. Ferrell, by 3/3/2016. Signed by Judge Cynthia Bashant on 2/25/2016. (jah)

Download PDF
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 11 SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 12 13 OBESITY RESEARCH INSTITUTE, LLC, 14 Plaintiff, 15 Case No. 15-cv-00595-BAS(MDD) v. 16 17 18 ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT (ECF No. 52) FIBER RESEARCH INTERNATIONAL, LLC, Defendant. 19 20 AND RELATED COUNTERCLAIM 21 22 23 On March 16, 2015, Obesity Research Institute, LLC (“Obesity Research”) 24 filed a Complaint for Declaratory Judgment against Fiber Research International, 25 LLC (“Fiber Research”) asking the Court to declare that it has no liability under either 26 the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1125 et seq., or the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic 27 Act (“FFDCA”), 21 U.S.C. §§ 301 et seq. (ECF No. 1.) On May 28, 2015, Fiber 28 Research filed an Answer, in which it asserts the affirmative defense of unclean –1– 15cv595 1 hands, and a First Amended Counterclaim. (ECF No. 41 (“FACC”).) Obesity 2 Research has moved to dismiss the FACC and strike the affirmative defense. (ECF 3 Nos. 42, 43.) 4 On June 30, 2015, U.S. Magistrate Judge Mitchell D. Dembin issued a 5 scheduling order directing that any motion to amend the pleadings be filed by July 6 27, 2015. (ECF No. 46 at ¶ 2.) On July 22, 2015, Obesity Research filed the present 7 motion seeking leave to file a First Amended Complaint for Declaratory Judgment. 8 (ECF No. 52.) Fiber Research opposes. (ECF No. 54.) 9 The Court finds this motion suitable for determination on the papers submitted 10 and without oral argument. See Civ. L.R. 7.1(d)(1). For the reasons set forth below, 11 Court GRANTS Obesity Research’s Motion for Leave to File a First Amended 12 Complaint. (ECF No. 52.) 13 I. LEGAL STANDARD 14 Rule 15(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure directs that “a party may 15 amend its pleading only with the opposing party’s written consent or the court’s 16 leave. The court should freely give leave when justice so requires.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 17 15(a)(2). “[T]his policy is to be applied with extreme liberality.” Morongo Band of 18 Mission Indians v. Rose, 893 F.2d 1074, 1079 (9th Cir. 1990). 19 Although the decision whether to allow amendment is in the court’s discretion, 20 “[i]n exercising its discretion, a court must be guided by the underlying purpose of 21 Rule 15—to facilitate decision on the merits rather than on the pleadings or 22 technicalities.” DCD Programs, Ltd. v. Leighton, 833 F.2d 183, 186 (9th Cir. 1987) 23 (internal quotations omitted). Denial of a request to amend is only proper when it 24 “would be clearly frivolous, unduly prejudicial, cause undue delay or a finding of bad 25 faith is made.” United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Trades No. 40 v. 26 Ins. Corp. of Am., 919 F.2d 1398, 1402 (9th Cir. 1990). 27 /// 28 /// –2– 15cv595 1 II. DISCUSSION 2 Obesity Research seeks leave to file a First Amended Complaint for 3 Declaratory Judgment (1) to add Shimizu Chemical Corporation (“Shimizu”) as a 4 party; (2) to add a cause of action for declarative relief based on California’s unfair 5 competition and false advertising laws; and (3) adding allegations to bolster its 6 defense of laches. 7 amendment would be clearly frivolous or futile because Shimizu has assigned its 8 interests to Fiber Research; and (2) Fiber Research would be prejudiced by the 9 amendment because it would cause undue delay. (ECF No. 54.) The Court disagrees. 10 Although Fiber Research alleges Shimizu has assigned its claims to Fiber 11 Research, Fiber Research has filed no documentation confirming this assignment. 12 Obesity Research has an interest in making sure the assignment is valid. It would not 13 be frivolous to assure that this litigation resolves all issues with respect to Propol and 14 its connection to Obesity Research’s Lipozene. Hence, the Court finds amendment 15 to add Shimizu would not be futile. (ECF No. 52.) Fiber Research opposes, arguing: (1) the 16 More importantly, the Court finds amendment would not be unduly prejudicial. 17 The Court is mindful that the current scheduling order requires that discovery be 18 completed by February 29, 2016 and that this amendment is likely to extend the 19 discovery time. (See ECF Nos. 71, 72.) However, Obesity Research contends it plans 20 to serve Shimizu via mail, countering Fiber Research’s argument that service will 21 require months of delay. (See ECF No. 52-1 at p. 6; ECF No. 55 at pp. 2-3.) Obesity 22 Research further states it was waiting on an order on its motion to dismiss the 23 Counterclaims before adding Shimizu as a party, but, as the Court had not yet ruled 24 on the motion, moved to amend before the cut-off date set in Judge Dembin’s 25 scheduling order. (ECF No. 52-1 at p. 3.) Obesity Research also alleges that it gave 26 notice to Fiber Research back in June of last year of its intent to amend to add Shimizu 27 as a party if the motion to dismiss was not granted. (Id.; see also ECF Nos. 52-9; 28 ECF No. 55 at p. 3.) However, Fiber Research was not willing to stipulate to the –3– 15cv595 1 amendment. (ECF No. 52-1 at p. 4; ECF No. 52-2 at ¶¶ 10, 11.) 2 As leave to amend a pleading should be freely granted so that the Court can 3 resolve all issues on the merits, and the Court finds that such an amendment would 4 not be “clearly frivolous, unduly prejudicial, cause undue delay,” and there has been 5 no finding of bad faith, the Court GRANTS Obesity Research’s motion. See United 6 Union of Roofers, 919 F.2d at 1402. 7 III. CONCLUSION 8 For the foregoing reasons, Obesity Research’s Motion for Leave to File a First 9 Amended Complaint is GRANTED (ECF No. 52). Obesity Research shall file the 10 First Amended Complaint for Declaratory Judgment, in the form attached as Exhibit 11 1 to the Declaration of Scott J. Ferrell, no later than March 3, 2016. 12 IT IS SO ORDERED. 13 14 DATED: February 25, 2016 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 –4– 15cv595

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.

Why Is My Information Online?