United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
HOWARD BERRY and DAVID BERRY, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
TRANSDEV SERVICES, INC. d/b/a VEOLIA TRANSPORTATION SERVICES, INC.; TRANSDEV NORTH AMERICA, INC., f/k/a/ VEOLIA SERVICES, INC.; and FIRST TRANSIT, INC., Defendants.
RICHARD A. JONES, JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiffs' Motion for
Leave to File an Amended Class Action Complaint. Dkt. # 56.
Defendant First Transit, Inc., opposes the Motion. Dkt. # 60.
For the reasons that follow, Plaintiffs' Motion is
GRANTED. Dkt. # 56. Plaintiffs' Motion
to Continue Class Certification Briefing Deadlines is also
GRANTED. Dkt. # 69.
filed their original Complaint in the Superior Court of
Washington on July 14, 2015. Dkt. # 1. Defendants removed the
case to this Court on August 14, 2015. Id.
Plaintiffs moved for remand on September 10, 2015. Dkt. # 7.
Plaintiffs' motion for remand was denied. Dkt. # 14. On
July 27, 2016, the Court entered an order pursuant to the
parties' stipulation to allow Plaintiffs to file their
First Amended Complaint and to add First Transit, Inc. as a
Defendant. Dkt. # 22. Defendant First Transit, Inc., filed
motions to dismiss Plaintiffs' First Amended Complaint
and Transdev Services, Inc.'s cross-claim. Dkt. ## 26,
30. On April 14, 2017, the Court denied First Transit,
Inc.'s motion to dismiss Plaintiffs' First Amended
Complaint, and granted in part and denied in part the motion
to dismiss Transdev Services, Inc.'s cross-claim. Dkt. #
48. Plaintiffs now request leave to amend their First Amended
Complaint. Dkt. # 56.
to pleadings is governed by Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 15(a). Rule 15(a) “provides that a
party's right to amend as a matter of course terminates
21 days after service of a responsive pleading or 21 days
after service of a motion under Rule 12(b), (e), or (f),
whichever is earlier.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1)(B).
“In all other cases, a party may amend its pleading
only with the opposing party's written consent or the
court's leave. The court should freely give leave when
justice so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). “In
exercising this discretion, a court must be guided by the
underlying purpose of Rule 15 to facilitate a
decision on the merits, rather than on the pleadings or
technicalities.” Roth v. Garcia Marquez, 942
F.2d 617, 628 (9th Cir. 1991); United States v.
Webb, 655 F.2d 977, 979 (9th Cir. 1981).
Further, the policy of favoring amendments to pleadings
should be applied with “extreme liberality.”
DCD Programs, Ltd. v. Leighton, 833 F.2d 183, 186
(9th Cir. 1987).
this extremely liberal standard, the Court may deny leave to
amend after considering “the presence of any of four
factors: bad faith, undue delay, prejudice to the opposing
party, and/or futility.” Owens v. Kaiser Foundation
Health Plan, Inc., 244 F.3d 708, 712 (9th Cir. 2001).
But “[n]ot all of the factors merit equal weight ... it
is the consideration of prejudice to the opposing party that
carries the greatest weight.” Eminence Capital, LLC
v. Aspeon, Inc., 316 F.3d 1048, 1052 (9th Cir. 2003).
“Absent prejudice, or a strong showing of any of the
remaining [ ] factors, there exists a presumption under Rule
15(a) in favor of granting leave to amend.”
Id. The party opposing amendment bears the heavy
burden of overcoming this presumption. DCD Programs, Ltd.
v. Leighton, 833 F.2d 183, 187 (9th Cir. 1987).
seek to amend their First Amended Complaint to “clarify
that their state law claims include meal breaks, ” and
argue that such claims have already been a part of this
litigation and ongoing discovery. Dkt. # 56. After review of
Plaintiffs' First Amended Complaint, the balance of the
record, and the parties' submissions, the Court finds
that Defendants would not be prejudiced by Plaintiffs'
proposed amendments. Plaintiffs' First Amended Complaint
contains numerous references to meal breaks. Dkt. # 22
¶¶ 1.2, 5.2, 5.3, 5.4, 5.5, 6.4, 9.4, 10.4, 10.5.
Although these references refer to contracts between King
County and Defendants, Plaintiffs allege that these contracts
govern Defendants' joint operations. Dkt. # 22 ¶
1.2. Defendants were on notice that these provisions form the
basis of several of Plaintiffs' claims, particularly
Plaintiffs' breach of contract claim. Id.
¶¶ 9.1-9.6. Defendant First Transit, Inc. also
specifically refers to Plaintiffs' response to its motion
to dismiss, where Plaintiffs indicate that they were prepared
to amend their First Amended Complaint to allege additional
facts, specifically that drivers had made complaints about
both meal and rest breaks. Dkt. # 60. While Plaintiffs did
not specifically state that they intended to amend their
First Amended Complaint to assert meal period violations,
this reference is more than sufficient to put Defendants on
notice that meal breaks were at issue. Dkt. # 29.
First Transit, Inc. does not dispute that Plaintiffs'
discovery requests specifically requested information about
driver complaints about rest and meal breaks and that
Defendant provided this information because they recognize
that “the scope of discovery was broad and that
complaints about meal periods could potentially relate to
missed rest breaks.” Dkt. # 60 at 5. Defendant also
notes that Plaintiffs' interrogatories also requested
information about complaints, lawsuits, and investigations
regarding both meal and rest breaks. Dkt. # 60 at 7. This
conflicts with Defendant's assertion that the discovery
requested and conducted thus far shows that Plaintiffs did
not intend to assert a claim for denied meal periods. Dkt. #
60 at 1. Further, while Defendant argues that it will be
prejudiced because a possible affirmative defense of waiver
was not previously an issue in this case, Defendant can of
course conduct further discovery on this issue.
the Court finds no evidence of bad faith and declines to
determine whether Plaintiffs' assertions are futile at
this stage in the litigation. While Plaintiffs request to
amend their First Amended Complaint a full year after filing
it, the Court finds that the Defendants will not be
prejudiced by this delay. Because the underlying purpose of
Rule 15 is to facilitate a decision on the merits,
Plaintiffs should be permitted an opportunity to allege every
relevant fact and argument in support of their claims.
Defendants had notice of Plaintiffs' claims and do not
make any convincing argument that amendment of the complaint
would prejudice them such that the presumption in favor of
liberal amendment should be overruled.
foregoing reasons, the Court GRANTS
Plaintiffs' motion for leave to amend their First Amended
Complaint. Dkt. # 56. Plaintiffs shall file their
proposed amended complaint, filed as Exhibit A to Docket No.
57, within one week of the date of this order.
to this Court's Order on July 27, 2016, case scheduling
deadlines will not be set under after the Court rules on
Plaintiffs' motion for class certification. Other than
the deadline set for the filing of that Motion, which is the
subject of Plaintiffs' pending motion for an extension of
time (Dkt. # 69), no other deadlines have been set. As the
Court is granting Plaintiffs leave to further amend their
complaint, Plaintiffs' Motion to Continue Class
Certification Briefing Deadlines is ...