United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
EDDIE S. FERRER and SHEILA M. FERRER, Plaintiffs,
JP MORGAN CHASE BANK NA, Defendant.
ORDER DENYING MOTION TO AMEND
JAMES L. ROBART, District Judge.
This matter comes before the court on Plaintiffs' motion to amend their complaint (Mot. (Dkt. # 36).) Having considered the submissions of the parties, the balance of the record, and the relevant law, the court DENIES leave to amend.
This is a mortgage foreclosure case. Plaintiffs contend that Defendant JP Morgan Chase Bank NA ("Chase") wrongfully foreclosed on their "primary residence." ( See generally Compl. (Dkt. # 1).) Plaintiffs' original complaint alleges, among other things, causes of action for breach of contract, breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing, violation of the Deed of Trust Act, RCW 61.42.110, quiet title, and violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692f(6). ( See id. )
This case has been pending for two years. ( See generally Dkt.) Trial is scheduled for May, 2015. (Sched. Ord. (Dkt. # 22).) Plaintiffs now move to amend their complaint to (1) add a new defendant, Northwest Trustee Services, Inc. ("Northwest Trustee") and (2) add new claims for racial and national origin discrimination in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981, the Washington Law Against Discrimination, ch. 49.60 RCW et seq., and the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3605. Northwest Trustee was originally named as a defendant in this suit, but Plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed it without prejudice in July 2013. ( See Not. (Dkt. # 14).) Plaintiffs' motion to amend is now before the court.
A. Standard for Granting Leave to Amend
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15 governs timely motions to amend. Rule 15 provides that, after an initial period for amendment as of right, pleadings may be amended only with the opposing party's written consent or by leave of the court. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a). "The court should freely give leave [to amend pleadings] when justice so requires." Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). But a district court need not grant leave to amend where the amendment: (1) prejudices the opposing party; (2) is sought in bad faith; (3) produces an undue delay in litigation; or (4) is futile. AmerisourceBergen Corp. v. Dialysist W., Inc., 465 F.3d 946, 951 (9th Cir. 2006). The party opposing amendment has the burden of showing that amendment is not warranted. DCD Programs, Ltd. v. Leighton, 833 F.2d 183, 187 (9th Cir. 1987).
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16 governs untimely motions to amend. Once a district court enters a pretrial scheduling order that establishes a timetable for amending pleadings, Rule 16's standards control. Johnson v. Mammoth Recreations, Inc., 975 F.2d 604, 607-08 (9th Cir. 1992). Rule 16 provides that a court's scheduling order "may be modified only for good cause and with the judge's consent." Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(4). Therefore, a party seeking to amend a pleading after the deadline for doing so has passed must show good cause. See Johnson, 975 F.2d at 607-08.; see also DZ Bank AG Deutsche Zentral-Genossenschaftbank, Frankfurt AM Main v. Choice Cash Advantage, LLC, 918 F.Supp.2d 1156, 1170 (W.D. Wash. 2013) (denying motion to amend after the scheduling order deadline for lack of good cause under Rule 16).
In determining whether there is good cause for modifying a scheduling order, the court "primarily considers the diligence of the party seeking the amendment." Johnson, 975 F.2d at 609. The court may modify the scheduling order "if it cannot reasonably be met despite the diligence of the party seeking the extension." Id. However, "[i]f that party was not diligent, the inquiry should end." Id.; see also In re W. States Wholesale Natural Gas Antitrust Litig., 715 F.3d 716, 737 (9th Cir. 2013). "[C]arelessness is not compatible with a finding of diligence and offers no reason for a grant of relief." Johnson, 975 F.2d at 609.
B. Addition of a New Defendant
The deadline for joining parties was October 1, 2014. ( See Sched. Ord.) Therefore, Plaintiffs' November 19, 2014, motion to amend its complaint to add Northwest Trustee as a defendant is untimely, and must be judged according to the "good cause" standard of Rule 16. See Johnson, 975 F.2d at 607-08.
Plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate good cause for adding Northwest Trustee. They do not identify any newly discovered facts or change in the law that arose after the deadline to join parties. ( See generally Mot.) Nor do they identify any ruling by this court since the deadline passed that has materially altered the fundamental issues or theories of the case. See Farnum v. Capistrano Unified Sch. Dist., 654 F.3d 975, 984 (9th Cir. 2011). In fact, the only new allegation concerning Northwest Trustee in Plaintiffs' proposed amended complaint is the allegation that Northwest Trustee inappropriately scheduled a trustee's sale of Plaintiffs' residence for October 18, 2013. ( See Prop. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 38-39 (Dkt. # 36-3).) It is clear Plaintiffs were previously aware of this attempted sale, which occurred one year before the deadline to amend, because they allege that "as a result of [Northwest Trustee's] action, " they "were forced to retain counsel to resist the nonjudicial foreclosure." ( Id. ¶ 39.) Plaintiffs provide no reason why they could not reasonably have included Northwest Trustee in their complaint before the ...