United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR A PROTECTIVE
ORDER AND GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO AMEND
C. COUGHENOUR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on Defendant American
Airline's motion for a protective order (Dkt. No. 35) and
Plaintiff Rebecca Barrick's motion to amend (Dkt. No.
33). Having thoroughly considered the parties' briefing
and the relevant record, the Court finds oral argument
unnecessary and hereby DENIES the motion for a protective
order and GRANTS the motion to amend for the reasons
American Airlines flight from Seattle to Philadelphia,
Plaintiff's chest was burned by a bag of dry ice. (Dkt.
No. 31 at ¶¶ 6-10.) After, she filed this
negligence and gross negligence action against Defendant.
(See Dkt. No. 31.) Defendant responded to her
amended complaint, admitting that it is “liable for all
of Ms. Barrick's proximately caused damages.” (Dkt.
No. 39 at 2; see also Dkt. No. 32 at ¶¶
10, 14, 17, 18, 22, 23, 25.) Defendant has filed a motion for
a protective order to limit Plaintiff's discovery
requests to relevant information about damages. (Dkt. No.
35.) Plaintiff also filed a motion to amend her complaint a
second time. (Dkt. No. 33.)
DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR A PROTECTIVE ORDER
may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that
is relevant to any party's claim or defense and
proportional to the needs of the case.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26
(b)(1). However, “the court must limit the frequency or
extent of discovery [if] . . . the proposed discovery is
outside the scope permitted by Rule 26(b)(1).”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 26 (b)(2)(C). “The court may, for good
cause, issue an order to protect a party from . . . undue
burden or expense.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26 (c)(1). When a
defendant admits liability for all damages caused to a
plaintiff, the court may limit discovery to damages. See
Broncel v. H & R Transp., Ltd., 2011 WL 319822,
(E.D. Cal. Jan. 28, 2011) (holding that plaintiff was not
entitled to depose defendant Wilson because the defendants
had already admitted liability); Ayat v. Societe Air
France, 2008 WL 114936, (N.D. Cal. Jan. 8, 2008)
(holding that further discovery into liability was not
warranted because the defendant did not contest liability and
only asserted three affirmative defenses, all related to
Defendant seeks a protective order to limit discovery to
damages. (Dkt. No. 35.) However, Plaintiff maintains that she
is entitled to more expansive discovery because Defendant
“has not admitted liability to most of Plaintiff's
claims, and has expressly denied most of the offending
actions.” (Dkt. No. 37 at 4.) Plaintiff's argument
is persuasive because Defendant has only admitted to
liability for all of Plaintiff's proximately
caused damages. (See Dkt. Nos. 32, 35, 41.)
While Defendant's admission is helpful to Plaintiff,
there is some vagueness as to the admission. Defendant admits
to liability for proximately caused damages, but
does not stipulate it is in fact the cause of such damages.
If Plaintiff is not entitled to discover the circumstances
that led to her injury, she would be at a significant
disadvantage in this litigation. While this causation issue
is unresolved, the Court will prudently leave discovery open.
Defendant's motion for a protective order limiting
discovery to damages is DENIED.
PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO AMEND
Court is afforded discretion and “should freely give
leave [to amend] when justice so requires.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). When deciding whether leave should be
granted, “[f]ive factors are taken into account . . .
bad faith, undue delay, prejudice to the opposing party,
futility of amendment, and whether the plaintiff has
previously amended the complaint.” Johnson v.
Buckley, 356 F.3d 1067, 1077 (9th Cir. 2004).
motion to amend builds on the issue of causation, and thus is
not futile. The amendment is minimal, but the proposed
complaint does allege with more specificity the types of harm
suffered by Plaintiff, specifically emotional damages.
(See Dkt. No. 33-3 at ¶ 26.) This newly alleged
harm demonstrates a need for more expansive discovery into
its cause. Plaintiff has previously amended her complaint,
but the Court concludes the proposed amendment is not futile,
nor is it unfair. Thus, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's
motion to amend her complaint.
foregoing reasons, Plaintiff's motion to amend (Dkt. No.
33) is GRANTED, and Defendant's motion for a protective
order (Dkt. No. 35) is DENIED. Plaintiff is ORDERED to file
her second amended complaint (Dkt. No. 33-3) within 7 days of