Alegre et al v. Contreras et al

Filing 27

ORDER denying 25 Plaintiff's Request for Leave to File an Amended Complaint. The Court DENIES Plaintiffs' request. At this juncture, the Court finds it appropriate to proceed with Defendants' motion to dismiss. The Court sua sponte extends the briefing schedule on that motion. Plaintiffs' opposition is due no later than 7/12/2017. Defendants' reply is due 7/29/2017. No further extensions will be given. Pursuant to the Court's prior order, Plaintiffs' opposition may not exceed 35 pages. Defendants' reply may not exceed 15 pages. The hearing on this motion remains 8/10/2017, at 2:00 p.m. in Courtroom 4A. Signed by Judge Anthony J. Battaglia on 6/27/2017. (acc)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 CINDY ALEGRE et al., Case No.: 16-CV-2442-AJB-KSC Plaintiffs, 12 13 v. 14 ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFFS’ REQUEST FOR LEAVE TO FILE AN AMENDED COMPLAINT SALLEY JEWELL, Secretary of the Department of Interior, United States of America, in her official capacity; LAWRENCE ROBERTS, Assistant Secretary of the Department of Interior Indian Affairs, United States of America, in his official capacity; MICHAEL BLACK, Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs of Department of Interior - United States of America, in his official capacity; AMY DUTSCHKE, Regional Director, Department of Interior - Indian Affairs, United States of America, in her official capacity; JAVIN MOORE, Superintendent of the Department of Interior Indian Affairs, Southern California Agency, in his official capacity; DOES 1 through 25; US ATTORNEYS OFFICE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA DISTRICT, 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 (Doc. No. 25) Defendants. 1 16-CV-2442-AJB-KSC 1 Presently before the Court is Plaintiffs’ “request for leave” to file an amended 2 complaint. (Doc. No. 25.) Defendants have filed a notice stating their intent to oppose 3 Plaintiffs’ request should the Court entertain it. (Doc. No. 26.) Having reviewed the parties’ 4 submissions and controlling legal authority, and pursuant to Local Civil Rule 7.1.d.1, the 5 Court finds the matter suitable for decision without oral argument. The Court DENIES 6 Plaintiffs’ request. BACKGROUND 7 8 This dispute arises out of Plaintiffs’ contention that they are members of the San 9 Pasqual Indian Band. Plaintiffs instituted this lawsuit on September 28, 2016, by filing the 10 original complaint. (Doc. No. 1.) Defendants moved to dismiss that complaint on March 11 27, 2017. (Doc. No. 9.) In lieu of opposing Defendants’ motion, Plaintiffs filed the 12 operative amended complaint on April 11, 2017. (Doc. No. 13.) Given the amended 13 complaint, the Court denied as moot Defendants’ motion. (Doc. No. 14.) 14 On June 12, 2017, Defendants moved to dismiss the amended complaint. (Doc. No. 15 20.) Plaintiffs were given until June 26, 2017, to oppose the motion. (Doc. No. 21.) Again, 16 instead of opposing the motion, Plaintiffs filed a second amended complaint on June 26. 17 (Doc. No. 23.) The same day, the Court struck that order pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil 18 Procedure 15 for Plaintiffs’ failure to obtain Defendants’ consent or leave of Court.1 (Doc. 19 No. 24.) Plaintiffs thereafter filed the instant request for leave of Court to amend the 20 complaint. (Doc. No. 25.) The next day, Defendants filed a notice of their intent to oppose 21 Plaintiffs’ request should the Court entertain it. (Doc. No. 26.) This order follows. LEGAL STANDARD 22 23 Rule 15(a) governs leave to amend prior to trial. A party may amend its pleading 24 once as a matter of course within 21 days after serving it; or, if the pleading is one requiring 25 a response, within 21 days after service of the responsive pleading or motion. Fed. R. Civ. 26 27 28 1 All references in this order to “Rules” are to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. 2 16-CV-2442-AJB-KSC 1 P. 15(a)(1). “In all other cases, a party may amend its pleading only with the opposing 2 party’s written consent or the court’s leave. The court should freely give leave when justice 3 so requires.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2). “Five factors are taken into account to assess the 4 propriety of a motion for leave to amend: bad faith, undue delay, prejudice to the opposing 5 party, futility of the amendment, and whether the plaintiff has previously amended the 6 complaint.” Desertrain v. City of L.A., 754 F.3d 1147, 1154 (9th Cir. 2014) (quoting 7 Johnson v. Buckley, 356 F.3d 1067, 1077 (9th Cir. 2004)). These factors do not “merit 8 equal weight,” and “it is the consideration of prejudice to the opposing party that carries 9 the greatest weight.” Eminence Capital, LLC v. Aspeon, Inc., 316 F.3d 1048, 1052 (9th Cir. 10 2003) (per curiam). “Absent prejudice, or a strong showing of any of the remaining [] 11 factors, there exists a presumption under Rule 15(a) in favor of granting leave to amend.” 12 Id. (emphasis in original). 13 The grant or denial of leave to amend is in the Court’s discretion. Swanson v. U.S. 14 Forest Serv., 87 F.3d 339, 343 (9th Cir. 1996). “In exercising this discretion, a court must 15 be guided by the underlying purpose of Rule 15 to facilitate decision on the merits, rather 16 than on the pleadings or technicalities.” United States v. Webb, 655 F.2d 977, 979 (9th Cir. 17 1981). Consequently, the policy in favor of granting leave to amend is applied with extreme 18 liberality. See Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 181–82 (1962). 19 DISCUSSION 20 The Court finds that the weight of the Desertrain factors supports denying Plaintiffs’ 21 request. While the Court “should freely give leave when justice so requires,” justice will 22 not be had if Plaintiffs’ request is granted. This is the second time Plaintiffs, when faced 23 with a motion to dismiss, strategically filed an amended complaint instead of opposing 24 Defendants’ arguments on the merits. This suggests bad faith. This fact is also relevant to 25 the fifth factor, specifically, whether Plaintiffs have previously amended the complaint 26 (they have). Furthermore, the complaints in this case are substantial. Defendants undertook 27 significant efforts to research and draft a succinct motion to dismiss in the face of a 28 complaint that exceeds 800 pages. To summarily deny Defendants’ motion on the basis of 3 16-CV-2442-AJB-KSC 1 Plaintiffs’ filing (again) would be prejudicial to Defendants. As such, this factor strongly 2 favors denying Plaintiffs’ request. Because prejudice to Defendants is accorded the greatest 3 weight, and because there is a strong showing on three of the five factors, the Court 4 exercises its discretion and DENIES Plaintiffs’ request.2 CONCLUSION 5 6 Based on the foregoing, the Court DENIES Plaintiffs’ request. At this juncture, the 7 Court finds it appropriate to proceed with Defendants’ motion to dismiss. The Court sua 8 sponte extends the briefing schedule on that motion. Plaintiffs’ opposition is due no later 9 than July 12, 2017. Defendants’ reply is due July 29, 2017. No further extensions will be 10 given. Pursuant to the Court’s prior order, Plaintiffs’ opposition may not exceed 35 pages. 11 Defendants’ reply may not exceed 15 pages. The hearing on this motion remains August 12 10, 2017, at 2:00 p.m. in Courtroom 4A. 13 14 IT IS SO ORDERED. 15 Dated: June 27, 2017 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 2 And finally, a Rule 15(a)(2) motion must be brought by noticed motion. Plaintiffs neither contacted chambers to schedule their motion nor briefed the legal authority governing their request. 4 16-CV-2442-AJB-KSC

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