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Sampson v. Knight Transportation, Inc.

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

September 19, 2017

VALERIE SAMPSON, on behalf of herself and on the behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
KNIGHT TRANSPORTATION, INC., Defendant.

          ORDER

          JOHN C. COUGHENOUR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff's motion for leave to amend her class action complaint (Dkt. No. 29). Having thoroughly considered the parties' briefing and the relevant record, the Court finds oral argument unnecessary and hereby GRANTS the motion for the reasons explained herein.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff, Valerie Sampson (“Sampson”), worked as a truck driver for Defendant, Knight Transportation, Inc., (“Knight”) from May 2015 to January 2016. (Dkt. No. 29 at 5.) During her employment, Sampson alleges Knight did not comply with wage and hour laws that applied to its employees residing in Washington. (Id.) On October 14, 2016, Sampson filed a class action lawsuit against Knight on behalf of “[a]ll current and former driver employees of Knight Transportation, Inc. who at any time from July 1, 2013 through the date of final disposition, worked as drivers for the company while residing in the State of Washington.” (Dkt. No. 5.)[1]Sampson claims, among other things, that Knight failed to pay its drivers minimum wage, failed to pay for rest periods, made unlawful payroll deductions and did not keep accurate time records for the hours worked by its drivers. (Id. at 11.)

         At a status conference on February 22, 2017, the Court ordered the parties to provide a proposed schedule for class certification briefing. (Dkt. No. 11.) The parties initially agreed that briefing would be completed on September 8, 2017. (Dkt. No. 12.) On June 29, 2017, the parties stipulated to an extension of the class certification briefing deadline to October 23, 2017. (Dkt. No. 21.) The Court has not set a discovery cutoff date or a deadline for filing amended pleadings.

         On August 2, 2017, Sampson conducted a deposition of Knight's Chief Operations Officer, Kevin Quast (“Quast”). (Dkt. No. 30 at 25.) During the deposition, Quast stated that Knight employs and oversees truck drivers who reside in Washington under three different “business lines:” Knight Dry Van (“Dry Van”); Knight Port Services (“Port Services”); and Knight Refrigerated (“Refrigerated”). (Dkt. No. 30 at 20-21.)[2] Sampson worked for only the Dry Van business. (Dkt. No. 33 at 9.)

         Quast stated that the different business lines are part of one corporate structure that is headed by the same executive officers. (Dkt. No. 30 at 25-26.) Beneath the corporate executive level, the entities have different management structures. (Id. at 29.) The businesses all share the same payroll department and payroll processing system. (Id. at 26-27.) Quast testified that the rate of pay for drivers in the three businesses is essentially the same. (Id. at 27.)

         After learning that Port Services and Refrigerated were separate entities from Knight, each of which employed truck drivers residing in Washington, Sampson's counsel interviewed David Raymond (“Raymond”), a truck driver formerly employed by Port Services and Refrigerated. (Dkt. No. 29 at 8; Dkt. No. 30 at 7.) On August 18, 2017, Sampson filed a motion asking the Court for leave to amend her complaint in order to add Raymond as an additional class representative as well as Refrigerated and Port Services as defendants. (Dkt. No. 30 6-7.) In the proposed amended complaint, Raymond alleges the same claims against Refrigerated and Port Services as Sampson initially brought against Knight (Id. at 11-14.) The Parties have since stipulated to an extension of the class certification briefing deadline to February 16, 2018. (Dkt. No. 31.)

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Legal Standard for Motion to Amend

         The district court is afforded discretion to grant leave to amend and “[t]he court should freely give leave when justice so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). The generosity in granting leave to amend is “to be applied with extreme liberality.” Eminence Capital, LLC v. Aspeon, Inc., 316 F.3d 1048, 1051-52 (9th Cir. 2003). Courts are to consider five factors in granting leave to amend: (1) bad faith, (2) undue delay, (3) prejudice to the opposing party, (4) futility of amendment, and (5) whether the pleading has previously been amended. See, e.g. United States v. Corinthian Colleges, 655 F.3d 984, 995 (9th Cir. 2011). If an untimely motion to amend would require modification of a pretrial scheduling order, however, the stricter standards of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16 (“Rule 16”) require the moving party to demonstrate “good cause.” Johnson v. Mammoth Recreations, 975 F.2d 604, 607-608 (9th Cir. 1992).

         B. Sampson's Motion to Amend

         As an initial matter, Sampson need not demonstrate good cause under Rule 16 because her request to amend is timely. (Dkt. No. 12.) The Court set class certification briefing deadlines but did not set a date by which amended pleadings had to be filed. (Id.) Since her motion does not violate the scheduling order, the Court need only consider the five factors that apply to granting amendments under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15 (“Rule 15').

         Sampson's amendment is appropriate under Rule 15's “when justice so requires” standard. F. R. Civ. P. 15(a). First, there is no suggestion in the record that Sampson makes her amendment in bad faith, that Raymond's claims, if added, would be futile, or that Sampson has previously amended her ...


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