United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
QUARTERDECK CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION OF APARTMENT OWNERS, Plaintiff,
SAFECO INSURANCE, et al., Defendants.
C. COUGHENOUR, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on Defendant Commonwealth
Insurance Company of America's
(“Commonwealth”) motion for leave to file an
amended answer (Dkt. No. 31). Having thoroughly considered
the parties' briefing and the relevant record, the Court
finds oral argument unnecessary and hereby DENIES the motion
for the reasons explained herein.
Quarterdeck Condominium Association of Apartment Owners
(“Quarterdeck”) is a non-profit corporation that
maintains the Quarterdeck Condominium Complex in Seattle.
(Dkt. No. 1 at 2.) On June 30, 2017, Quarterdeck filed suit
against ten insurance companies, seeking a declaratory
judgment that the insurers' policies covered water damage
that had allegedly occurred at the complex at some point
during the past 20 years. (See generally id.)
did not issue a summons on four of the ten insurers, none of
whom appeared in the lawsuit. (Dkt. Nos. 2, 35 at 2.) Five of
the six remaining Defendants were voluntarily dismissed from
the lawsuit without prejudice. (See Dkt. Nos. 14, 17,
24, 26, 29.) Only Commonwealth remains.
appeared in this case on July 17, 2017. (Dkt. No. 5). On
October 24, 2017, Commonwealth filed its answer, in which it
asserted certain affirmative defenses (see generally
Dkt. No. 20.) On November 7, 2017, the Court issued its
scheduling order pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
16 (Dkt. No. 22). The Court set March 2, 2018 as the deadline
for filing pleading amendments or asserting third party
5, 2018, Commonwealth requested leave to file an amended
answer in order to assert third party contribution claims
against the other nine insurance companies originally named
in Quarterdeck's complaint. (Dkt. No. 31 at 1-2.)
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a), a district court
should freely grant leave to amend a pleading “when
justice so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). The Ninth
Circuit has made clear that Rule 15 favors pleading
amendments and should be applied liberally. See Ascon
Props., Inc. v. Mobil Oil Co., 866 F.2d 1149, 1160 (9th
Cir. 1989). However, the Rule 15 standard does not apply when
a party seeks to amend its pleading after the court-ordered
deadline for filing amendments has passed. Johnson v.
Mammoth Recreations, Inc., 975 F.2d 604, 607 (9th Cir.
untimely motions to amend are analyzed under the “good
cause” standard established by Rule 16. See
Fed. R. Civ. P. 16(b)(4); Mammoth Recreations, Inc.,
975 F.2d at 608. The Rule 16(b) good cause standard
“primarily considers the diligence of the party seeking
the amendment.” Mammoth Recreations, Inc., 975
F.2d at 609. A district court may amend its scheduling order
“if it cannot reasonably be met despite the diligence
of the party seeking the extension.” Id. If
the moving party “was not diligent, the [good cause]
inquiry should end.” Id.
Commonwealth's Motion to Amend
wishes to amend its answer to assert contribution claims
against the nine insurers who are no longer part of the
lawsuit. (Dkt. No. 31 at 3.) Commonwealth acknowledges that
its motion to amend is untimely, but it asserts that there is
good cause to allow the amendment. (Id. at 2.)
Commonwealth appears to suggest that it could not have timely
amended its answer because one of the co-defendant insurance
companies was not voluntarily dismissed until nearly two
months after the pleading amendment deadline had passed.
(Id.) The Court disagrees.
could have asserted its contribution claims against its
co-defendants from the outset. The complaint put Commonwealth
on notice that Quarterdeck was seeking a declaratory judgment
against all of the named insurers for the alleged water
damage. (See Dkt. No. 1.) In other words,
Commonwealth knew all along that it could seek contribution
from its co-defendants if a judgment was ultimately entered
against it. As Commonwealth states in its motion “the
proposed third party claims arise out of the same
circumstances as alleged in the Association's original
complaint.” (Dkt. No. 31 at 3.) ...