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Walth v. Staples Office Superstore LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Washington

January 29, 2018

LEE WALTH and JANET WALTH, husband and wife and the marital community comprised thereof, Plaintiff,
v.
STAPLES THE OFFICE SUPERSTORE, LLC; STAPLES, INC; SPAR MARKETING FORCE, INC; and JOHN DOES 1-5, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO AMEND THE COMPLAINT AND REMAND THIS ACTION TO STATE COURT

          ROSANNA MALOUF PETERSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion to Amend the Complaint and Remand this Action to State Court, ECF No. 17. The Court held a telephonic hearing on the motion on January 26, 2018. Dean Swanson appeared on behalf of Plaintiffs. Alison Markette appeared on behalf of Defendant Spar Marketing Force, Inc., and John Bender appeared on behalf of Defendant Staples. The Court has considered the parties' arguments, their pleadings, and the record, and is fully informed.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs Lee and Janet Walth (“the Walths”) filed a civil tort action in Spokane County Superior Court against Staples the Office Superstore, LLC; Staples, Inc.; Spar Marketing Force, Inc.; and John Does 1-5 (collectively, “Defendants”). ECF No. 1-2. Defendant Spar Marketing Force (“Spar”) subsequently removed the action to federal court pursuant to diversity jurisdiction. ECF No. 1. The Walths moved to remand the matter to the Spokane County Superior Court. ECF No. 4. This Court denied that motion. ECF No. 7.

         Mr. Walth alleges that he fell from an Eckert office display chair at a Staples store in Spokane, WA, and suffered injuries. ECF No. 1-2 at 3. At the time of Mr. Walth's alleged incident, Defendant Spar provided merchandizing services at Staples stores, including assembling, inspecting, and repairing display furniture. ECF No. 18-7 at 4. During that same time frame, Mr. Ande Udby worked for Spar as an independent contractor, performing the merchandizing services at the Staples store where the incident occurred. Id. at 4-5. The Walths alleged that Mr. Udby negligently assembled the display chair and that, either through an agency relationship or a right of retained control, Staples and Spar, and their parent companies, were responsible for Mr. Udby's conduct. ECF No. 18-1 at 8, 10.

         The Walths now move to amend their complaint to join the following additional defendants: Spar Business Services, Inc., Spar Administrative Services, Inc. (collectively, “Spar Companies”), and Ande Udby.[1] ECF No. 17 at 5. Provided the Court grants the Walths' motion to amend and allows the joinder of Mr. Udby, diversity jurisdiction would be destroyed, and this court would lose jurisdiction over this case. Therefore, the Walths simultaneously move to remand this case to the Spokane County Superior Court. See ECF No. 17 at 5.

         DISCUSSION

         Legal Standard to Amend Complaint

         The Walths moved to amend their complaint more than 21 days after the Defendants filed their Answer. See ECF Nos. 3 and 17. Therefore the Walths are not entitled to amendment as of right under Civil Rule 15(a)(1), and must instead obtain leave of the Court to amend pursuant to Civil Rule 15(a)(2). “The court should freely give leave [to amend] when justice so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2).

         Although Rule 15 allows courts to liberally grant leave to amend complaints, 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. Dailysist West, Inc., 465 F.3d 946, 951 (9th Cir. 2006). “Courts may deny a motion to amend a complaint if doing so would be futile.” Haley v. TalentWise, Inc., 9 F.Supp.3d 1188, 1195 (W.D. Wash. 2014), reconsideration denied, No. C13-1915 MJP, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56844 (W.D. Wash. Apr. 23, 2014) (citing U.S. ex rel. Lee v. SmithKline Beecham, Inc., 245 F.3d 1048, 1052 (9th Cir. 2001)).

         Because the Walths move to join additional defendants in their amended complaint, the Court will consider the issue of joinder before it makes its determination regarding the Walths' motion to amend and remand.

         Legal Standard for Joinder of Defendants

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 20(a)(2) provides that persons

may be joined in one action as defendants if: (A) any right to relief is asserted against them jointly, severally, or in the alternative with respect to or arising out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences; and (B) any question ...

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