United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
CHAO CHEN, individually and on behalf of those similarly situated, Plaintiff,
THE GEO GROUP, INC., Defendant.
ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO AMEND
CLASS ACTION COMPLAINT
J. BRYAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
MATTER comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for
Leave to Amend Class Action Complaint. Dkt. 78. The Court has
considered the motion and the remainder of the file herein.
Chao Chen seeks leave to amend his class action complaint
(Dkt. 1) to substitute three individuals as named plaintiffs
and to withdraw Mr. Chen as a named plaintiff. Dkt. 78. The
proposed First Amended Class Action Complaint for Damages
(Dkt. 78-1) introduces as plaintiffs three individuals:
Ugochukwu Goodluck Nwauzor, Fernando Aguirre-Urbina, and
Fabiola Alicia Camorlinga Cruz. The second version of the
First Amended Class Action Complaint for Damages, filed in
Plaintiff's Reply (Dkt. 82), drops Ms. Cruz as a named
plaintiff. Dkt. 82-1. See Dkt. 80 at 7. For purposes
of considering Plaintiff's motion, the Court will
construe the second version (Dkt. 82-1) as the operative
proposed complaint adds two substantive paragraphs, which
provide detail about the two proposed plaintiffs. About Mr.
Nwauzor, the proposed complaint alleges that he resides in
Kent, Washington, was detained at the Northwest Detention
Center (NWDC) from approximately 2016 until January 2017, and
is a Nigerian citizen granted asylum by the United States in
January of 2017. Dkt. 82-1 at ¶3.1. About Mr.
Aguirre-Urbina, the proposed complaint alleges that he has
been detained since around September 2012 and is a citizen of
Mexico. Id. at ¶3.2. Other than these two
paragraphs, the proposed complaint is identical to the
Complaint, except for minor, non-substantive changes, e.g, .
modifying the Complaint to reflect a plural, rather than a
singular, number of plaintiffs. Compare Dkt. 1 at
¶1.1, 1.2; Dkt. 82-1 at ¶1.1, 1.2.
Civ. P. 15(a)(2) provides that “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.” This is a policy to be
applied with extreme liberality. Owens v. Kaiser Found.
Health Plan, Inc., 244 F.3d 708, 712 (9th
Cir. 2001). Courts may consider numerous factors, including
undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive, repeated failure
to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, undue
prejudice to opposing parties, harm to the movant if leave is
not granted, and futility of the amendment. Foman v.
Davis, 37 U.S. 178, 182 (1962); Eminence Capital,
LLC v. Aspeon, Inc., 316 F.3d 1048, 1052 (9th
Cir. 2003). Prejudice is the touchstone of the inquiry,
wherein “[n]ot all of the factors merit equal
invokes prejudice, lack of diligence, bad faith, and
is prejudiced, Defendant argues, because the proposed
plaintiffs cannot survive a motion for class certification
and should not be permitted to be used as placeholders. Dkt.
79 at 8-10. This is an argument on the merits of class
certification, which the Court has not reached. Whether the
proposed plaintiffs can survive a motion for class
certification remains unresolved. Dkt. 77 at 4. The Court may
look askance at future efforts to amend the named plaintiffs,
but presently, Plaintiff has made the threshold showing that
the amendment is offered to reach the merits of this case.
also argues that it suffers prejudice from insufficient time
to conduct discovery of the proposed plaintiffs. Dkt. 79 at
11. This argument lacks merit, because it was at
Defendant's request, to mitigate prejudice to Defendant,
that the Court ordered an abbreviated timeline. Dkt. 77 at 3.
has only articulated possible prejudice, which is conjecture.
The Court finds only minimal prejudice to Defendant.
argues that Plaintiff has shown a lack of diligence by
counsel's deficient preparation of Mr. Chao Chen's
class representation. Dkt. 79 at 10, 11. Defendant also
points to Plaintiff's withdrawal of proposed plaintiff
Ms. Cruz based on travel limitations imposed by probation,
and the fact that Plaintiff has proceeded with proposed
plaintiff Aguirre-Urbina despite known mental health issues.
record shown, Plaintiff's decisions are better
characterized as tactical decisions. Plaintiff has adjusted
his strategy based on clients' needs and input. Defendant
has not shown a lack of diligence.