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Mahone v. Pierce County

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma

January 12, 2015

SYLVESTER JAMES MAHONE, Plaintiff,
v.
PIERCE COUNTY, PAUL PASTOR, JOHN DOE PIERCE COUNTY JAIL DEPUTY, JOHN DOE PIERCE COUNTY JAIL DEPUTY, JOHN DOE PIERCE COUNTY JAIL DEPUTY, Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO AMEND

KAREN L. STROMBOM, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Sylvester James Mahone moves the Court for leave to file a second amended complaint. Dkt. 33. Defendants oppose the motion on the grounds that granting leave to amend would be futile. Dkt. 35. The Court finds that the motion to amend should be granted in part and denied in part and Plaintiff shall be granted leave to file an amended complaint as discussed further herein.

BACKGROUND

Mr. Mahone filed this 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 action on August 21, 2014. Dkt. 1. He sued Pierce County, Paul Pastor, and three John Doe Deputies alleging that he was assaulted by the John Doe Deputies during a court escort in 2013. He alleges that his constitutional rights were violated by John Doe Deputies' excessive use of force and the County's failure to adequately train and supervise its employees. Dkt. 1. After the complaint was served, Mr. Mahone filed an amended complaint naming the same parties and alleging the same claims. Dkt. 9. Defendants filed their answer to the amended complaint. Dkt. 16.

Mr. Mahone filed his present motion to amend on December 18, 2014. Dkt. 33. In his proposed second amended complaint, Mr. Mahone adds two new defendants, conspiracy claims, claims related to the handling of his grievance, and he identifies the John Doe Defendants previously named in his amended complaint. Dkt. 33-1.

DISCUSSION

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(2) directs a court to grant leave to amend if justice so requires. "A district court should grant leave to amend... unless it determines that the pleading could not possibly be cured by the allegation of other facts." Lacey v. Maricopa, 693 F.3d 896, 926 (9th Cir.2012). In other words, "requests for leave to amend should be granted with extreme liberality...." Mirmehdi v. United States, 689 F.3d 975, 985 (9th Cir.2012).

For a Rule 15(a) motion, the non-moving party bears the burden of persuading the court that leave should not be granted. Breakdown Services, Ltd. v. Now Casting, Inc., 550 F.Supp.2d 1123, 1132 (C.D.Cal.2007) ( citing DCD Programs, Ltd. v. Leighton, 833 F.2d 183, 186-87 (9th Cir.1987). The Court considers the following five factors in its analysis when leave to amend is requested: (1) bad faith, (2) undue delay, (3) prejudice to opposing party, (4) futility of amendment, and (5) whether the complaint was previously amended. United States v. Corinthian Colleges, 665 F.3d 984, 995 (9th Cir.2011). Ordinarily, there is a presumption that leave to amend should be granted absent a strong showing of one of the five factors. Eminence Capitol, LLC v. Aspeon, Inc., 316 F.3d 1048, 1052 (9th Cir.2003).

As noted above, Mr. Mahone's first amendment was filed prior to the time the Defendants filed their answer. There is no evidence that Plaintiff advances his proposed second amendment in bad faith, with undue delay, or that the proposed amendment will cause prejudice to the opposing party. According to the Court's pretrial scheduling order, the parties still have four months to complete discovery and six months to file dispositive motions. Dkt. 19. However, Defendants argue that amendment is futile. The Court has reviewed the existing amended complaint and proposed second amended complaint and finds that the motion to amend should be granted in part and denied in part as follows:

A. Identification of John Doe Defendants

The proposed second amended complaint identifies Terry Rembert, Jesse Boyle, Scott Kasten, and Ilsop Lee as the individual officers who allegedly used excessive force on February 7, 2013. Dkt. 33-1, pp. 2-4. These parties were previously identified in Mr. Mahone's pleadings as "John Doe" defendants.

Defendants argue that amending the complaint to identify the officers previously identified as "john does" in Plaintiff's amended complaint is futile because they are entitled to qualified immunity. The question at this juncture in the litigation is whether Plaintiff has stated a viable claim for relief. Qualified immunity is not a broad shield that automatically protects all state defendants because all allegedly shared the same reasonable belief. Qualified immunity must be decided with regard to each individual defendant based on his or her duty to act and his or her conduct. See Cunningham v. Gates, 229 F.3d 1271, 1289 (9th Cir.2000) (requiring district court to "analyze the acts of each individual defendant in its qualified immunity analysis"). Before the Court can decide whether state defendants are entitled to qualified immunity because they reasonably believed they acted in accordance with their legal duty in light of clearly established law, it needs concrete facts on what each officer in fact did or did not do.

Therefore, Plaintiff's motion to amend his complaint to identify the "john doe" officers allegedly involved in ...


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