United States District Court, D. Oregon
REBECCA STRONG, DARRELL LYNN BYERS, MICHAEL A. YONALLY, and DONALD L. PETERSON, Plaintiffs,
CITY OF EUGENE, OFFICER SHAWN R. TROTTER (Badge #334), SERGEANT WILLIAM SOLESBEE (Badge #311), DETECTIVE DAVE BURROUGHS, and JOHN DOES #1-10, Defendants.
Marianne G. Dugan, Brian L. Michaels, Eugene, Oregon, Attorneys for plaintiffs.
Benjamin J. Miller, City of Eugene, Eugene, Oregon, Attorney for defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
ANN AIKEN, Chief District Judge.
Plaintiffs Rebecca Strong, Darrell Byers, Michael Yonally, and Donald Peterson move to file an amended complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 15. For the reasons set forth below, plaintiffs' motion is denied.
On October 28, 2014, 2007, plaintiffs filed a complaint in this Court against defendants the City of Eugene, Shawn Trotter, William Solesbee, Dave Burroughs, and ten John Does, asserting claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state law arising out of the execution of an allegedly invalid search warrant "[i]n the early morning hours of January 11, 2013." Compl. ¶ 13. Although not formally named as defendants, plaintiffs alleged that the following 25 officers "participated" in the deprivation of their rights and therefore may be subject to liability: "Vinje, McAlpine, Pope, Sergeant T. Martin, Officer Casey, Mainard, Led Better, Evans, San Miguel, Hoernlein, Griesel, Sharlow, Warden, Hubbard, Kidd, Wolgamott, Froelich, Parr, Anderson, McCormick, Conner-Jones, K. Williams, Rathje, [and] Grose." Id. at ¶¶ 9-10.
On February 25, 2015, plaintiffs filed the present motion to amend, seeking "solely to substitute for the John Doe' defendants the names of the actual participants on the SWAT raid" - i.e. the 25 individuals listed in paragraph nine of original complaint. Pls.' Mot. Am. 2; Proposed Am. Compl. ("PAC") pg. 1.
Leave to amend pleadings "shall be freely given when justice so requires." Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a). Courts apply Rule 15 with "extreme liberality." Eminence Capital, LLC v. Aspeon, Inc., 316 F.3d 1048, 1051 (9th Cir. 2003) (citations omitted). In determining whether a motion to amend should be granted, the court generally considers four factors: (1) undue delay; (2) bad faith; (3) futility of amendment; and (4) prejudice to the opposing party. Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962). These factors are not weighted equally: "futility of amendment alone can justify the denial of a motion [to amend]." Ahlmeyer v. Nev. Sys. of Higher Educ., 555 F.3d 1051, 1055 (9th Cir. 2009).
Defendants contend that plaintiffs failed to confer as required by LR 7-1. In addition, defendants argue that the proposed amendments are futile because they do not relate back to plaintiffs' original complaint, as the additional defendants neither had notice of that pleading nor were omitted therefrom by mistake. Plaintiffs assert, to the contrary, that the PAC is timely because they were "mistaken' in that they did not know which specific officers did the handcuffing, property damage, and other wrongful acts." Pls.' Reply to Mot. Am. 4.
I. Compliance With the Local Rules
The moving party must certify in the first paragraph of any motion that he or she made "a good faith effort" to resolve the matter via "personal or telephone conferences" and was unable to do so, or, alternatively, that "[t]he opposing party willfully refused to confer." LR 7-1 (a) (1). The court "may" deny any motion that "fails to meet [the] certification requirement." LR 7-1(a) (2).
In this case, plaintiffs' counsel did not comply with either the spirit or the letter of the Local Rules. On January 12, 2015, plaintiffs' counsel sent an email soliciting defendants' counsel's "position on moving to amend to ad Scott Vinje as a named defendant." First Miller Decl. Ex. 1. Defendants' counsel responded the following day that he "would need to see the amended complaint first... but it seems time-barred." Id . On February 24, 2015, when the parties were discussing the possible extension of discovery deadlines, plaintiffs requested that defendants stipulate to allowing them until the end of discovery to amend the complaint "to add defendants to replace the John Does." First Miller Decl. Ex. 2, at 2. Defendants' counsel declined: "I've though a lot about this because I'd like to find ways to make this case less complicated and adversarial, but I can't agree to extend the deadline to amend pleadings [as] I disagree with your analysis of the law surrounding john does and relation back." Id. at 1. Plaintiffs' ...