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Preston v. Boyer

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

July 12, 2018

ROBERT JOHN PRESTON, Plaintiff,
v.
RYAN BOYER, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          JOHN C. COUGHENOUR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff's motion for leave to file a second amended complaint (Dkt. No. 92)[1]. Having thoroughly considered the parties' briefing and the relevant record, the Court finds oral argument unnecessary and hereby GRANTS in part and DENIES in part the motion for the reasons explained herein.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff, acting pro se, brought civil rights claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. section 1983 against Ryan Boyer and Jeffrey Miller of the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office in July 2016 (Dkt. No. 10) (Amended Civil Rights Complaint). Plaintiff alleged that in July 2014 Boyer and Miller used unlawful excessive force in apprehending him, most notably: strikes to the back of Plaintiff's head, partially severing Plaintiff's ear; kicks to Plaintiff's face, resulting in a broken tooth, a broken nose, lacerations, a loss of consciousness, and long-term disfigurement and disability; and kicks to Plaintiff's torso.[2] (Dkt. No. 10 at 5-13.) The Court dismissed all claims against Miller with prejudice in March 2017. (Dkt. No. 50 at 5.)

         Following the April 2017 appointment of pro bono counsel, Plaintiff and Boyer stipulated to limited discovery and briefing in August 2017 solely on the issue of Boyer's qualified immunity. (Dkt. No. 60) Most recently, the Court granted in part and denied in part Boyer's motion for partial summary judgment on this issue. (Dkt. No. 110.) The Court held that Plaintiff presented sufficient evidence to avoid summary judgment as to Boyer's qualified immunity defense with regards to the alleged kicks to Plaintiff's face and torso while Plaintiff lay on the ground, but not to the alleged earlier blows to the back of Plaintiff's head. (Id. at 10.) The Court has yet to set a trial date. Nor has it set a discovery schedule or other case management deadlines relating to issues other than qualified immunity on Plaintiff's section 1983 claim.

         Plaintiff now seeks leave to add negligent hiring, supervising, and retaining claims against Snohomish County and to include additional facts relevant to the proposed claims. (Dkt. No. 92); (see Dkt. No. 91 at 6-13.) Plaintiff also seeks leave to add state law battery and outrage claims against Boyer. (Dkt. No. 92); (see Dkt. No. 91 at 13-14). Boyer opposes the proposed amendments and requests attorney fees. (Dkt. No. 100 at 3-13.)

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Legal Standard

         The Court is afforded discretion to grant leave to amend and “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. United States v. Corinthian Colleges, 655 F.3d 984, 995 (9th Cir. 2011). An amendment is futile if it adds a claim that could not withstand a motion to dismiss. Jones v. Cmty. Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles, 733 F.2d 646, 650-51 (9th Cir. 1984). However, prejudice “carries the greatest weight.” Eminence Capital, LLC, 316 F.3d at 1052. “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.

         B. Claims Against the County

         Boyer opposes the addition of claims against the County on the basis that they are time-barred and futile. (Dkt. No. 100 at 3-7.) Before turning this argument, a brief summary of the events leading to Boyer's employment with the County is in order. Boyer was originally hired by the City of Snohomish as a police officer in 2007. (Dkt. No. 91 at 36.) This followed Boyer's (XXXXX) (Dkt. No. 93 at 51, 74.) Following Boyer's hire by the City, the City later contracted with the Snohomish County Sheriffs Office (“SCSO”) for its law enforcement needs. (See Dkt. No. 91 at 39-42.) A number of the City's officers, including Boyer, were hired by SCSO. (Id.) At the time, Boyer consented to the release to SCSO of “any and all public and private information . . . concerning me, my work record, my background and reputation, my education and/or training, my military service record, my criminal history, including any arrest records and any information contained in investigatory files.” (Id. at 44.) SCSO indicated it needed this information “to thoroughly investigate [Boyer's] employment background and personal history.” (Id.)

         In his application for a position with the City, (XXXXX)

         1. Statute of Limitations

         As a threshold matter, Boyer asserts that the proposed claims against the County are time-barred. (Dkt. No. 100 at 5.) However, the discovery rule tolls the otherwise-applicable three-year statute of limitations. Wash. Rev. Code § 4.16.080 (statute of limitations for negligence claims); Affiliated FM Ins. Co. v. LTK Consulting Services, Inc., 15 F.Supp.3d 1116, 1128 (W.D. Wash. 2014) (citing Hipple v. McFadden, 255 P.3d 730, 735 (Wash. App. 2011)) (statute of limitations tolls ...


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