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Zellmer v. Dow Constantine

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

April 9, 2015

JOEL M. ZELLMER, Plaintiff,
v.
DOW CONSTANTINE, et al., Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING IN PART MOTION TO AMEND COMPLAINT

MARSHA J. PECHMAN, Chief District Judge.

THIS MATTER comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion to Amend Complaint. (Dkt. No. 135.) Having considered the Parties' briefing and all related papers, the Court GRANTS the motion in part and DENIES it in part.

Background

Plaintiff brings suit against King County Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention correctional officers for leaving him in overly tight restraints and not affording him access to medical care in violation of his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. (Dkt. No. 7.)

Plaintiff seeks to amend his complaint to join additional parties as defendants and to include additional causes of action. (Dkt. No. 135) Defendants oppose some but not all of the proposed amendments. (Dkt. No. 138.)

Discussion

I. Legal Standard

Whether to grant leave to amend "is within the sound discretion of the trial court" guided by Fed.R.Civ.P. 15's underlying purpose of facilitating decisions on the merits. United States v. Webb, 655 F.2d 977, 979 (9th Cir. 1981). In considering whether to permit amendment, courts consider the following factors: (1) bad faith, (2) undue delay, (3) prejudice to the opposing party, (4) futility of amendment, and (5) whether plaintiff has previously amended the complaint. Allen v. City of Beverly Hills, 911 F.2d 367, 373 (9th Cir. 1990). Futility can, by itself, justify denial of a motion for leave to amend. Bonin v. Calderon, 59 F.3d 815 (9th Cir. 1995). The consideration of prejudice to the opposing party, however, "carries the greatest weight." Sonoma Cnty. Ass'n of Retired Employees v. Sonoma Cnty., 708 F.3d 1109, 1117 (9th Cir. 2013).

II. Fraud and Conspiracy Claims

Defendants oppose amendment to include fraud and conspiracy tort claims because these claims are time-barred and because fraud and conspiracy are not actionable as alleged. (Dkt. No. 138 at 3.) Defendants also oppose amendment to include the factual allegations in support of these claims because the allegations could be perceived as judicial comments on the evidence. (Id.)

A. Claims time-barred

Defendants argue that Plaintiff's new fraud and conspiracy tort claims are barred by the three-year limitations period because the limitations period expired on April 28, 2014 and this motion was filed on March 2, 2015. (Dkt. No. 138 at 4.) Plaintiff argues that the three-year limitations period did not begin to run until his discovery of the circumstances constituting fraud in 2013, and that in any case, Plaintiff filed his motion for leave to amend on February 13, 2014, rendering it timely under the limitations period proposed by Defendants. (Dkt. No. 139 at 2.)

Plaintiff filed his motion for leave to file an amended complaint on February 13, 2014. (Dkt. No. 105.) The Court, in adopting the Report and Recommendation of Magistrate Judge James P. Donohue, denied Plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint as requested, but granted him leave to file a motion to amend with a proposed amended complaint attached within thirty days of the date of the order. (Dkt. No. 127.) This motion to amend, with a ...


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