United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
INGE T. ANDERSON, Plaintiff,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, et al., Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR
LEAVE TO AMEND
S. Lasnik United States District Judge.
matter comes before the Court on “Defendant's
Motion for Leave to Amend Answer and Counterclaim.”
Dkt. # 86. Plaintiff is suing her former husband to recover
amounts owing under an I-864 affidavit of support and for
damages arising out of an alleged failure to provide
financial support during marriage and the intentional
infliction of emotional distress. Defendant answered the
amended complaint on October 2, 2018, but most of his
affirmative defenses and counterclaims were dismissed at
plaintiff's request. Two of his affirmative defenses -
unjust enrichment and breach of contract/breach of the duty
of good faith and fair dealing - were recharacterized as
counterclaims and allowed to proceed, along with his request
for declaratory judgment. The only affirmative defense to
survive was one for setoff. Defendant now seeks leave to
amend his answer. Plaintiff opposes the motion on procedural
and substantive grounds
correctly points out that defendant's motion is
overlength and that the proposed pleading does not indicate
where alterations have been made. The Court will not consider
the last three pages of defendant's motion but has
considered the proposed pleading.
extent plaintiff is seeking sanctions under Rule 11, the
motion is procedurally improper. See Fed.R.Civ.P.
11(c)(2). Contrary to plaintiff's argument (Dkt. # 91 at
3), her motion for default judgment, which was filed two
weeks before defendant filed the offending document, cannot
possibly satisfy the notice and safe harbor provisions of
to Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(4), case management deadlines
established by the Cou “may be modified only for good
cause and with the judge's consent.” Rule 16 was
amended in 1983 to require scheduling orders that govern
pre-trial as well as trial procedure. The purpose o the
change was to improve the efficiency of federal litigation:
leaving the parties to their own devices until shortly before
trial was apparently costly and resulted in undue delay.
Under the new rule, once a case management schedule issues,
changes will be made only if the movant shows “good
Rule 16(b)'s “good cause” standard primarily
considers the diligence of the party seeking the amendment.
The district court may modify the pretrial schedule “if
it cannot reasonably be met with the diligence of the party
seeking the extension.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 16 advisory
committee's notes (1983 amendment) . . . .
Johnson v. Mammoth Recreations, Inc., 975 F.2d 604,
609 (9th Cir. 1992). See also Zivkovic v. S. Cal. Edison
Co., 302 F.3d 1080, 1087-88 (9th Cir. 2002) (where
plaintiff failed to “demonstrate diligence in complying
with the dates set by the district court, ” good cause
was not shown).
case management deadline related to amendment of the
pleadings is set relatively early in the case to ensure that
the parties have time to serve discovery regarding all of the
claims and defenses at issue. In this case, however,
plaintiff lodged an amended complaint just before the
amendment deadline, and there was a delay before the proposed
amendment was accepted by the Court. Defendant timely filed
his response and, when the Court found many of his
affirmative defenses and counterclaims deficient, promptly
filed this motion to amend. To the extent the amendments are
aimed at remedying the deficiencies identified by the Court,
defendant was diligent once the need for amendment became
apparent. One proposed amendment is not a response to the
Court's order, however, but rather an attempt to
introduce entirely new theories or claims into the case.
Discovery has now closed, and defendant has not explained why
these theories or claims were not brought forward in the
twenty-two months that this action has been pending.
Rule 16's good cause requirement is only the first hurdle
defendant faces. Under Rule 15, there is a “strong
policy in favor of allowing amendment” (Kaplan v.
Rose, 49 F.3d 1363, 1370 (9th Cir. 1994)), but
“[c]ourts may decline to grant leave to amend . . . if
there is strong evidence of undue delay, bad faith or
dilatory motive on the part of the movant, repeated failure
to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, undue
prejudice to the opposing party by virtue of allowance of the
amendment, or futility of amendment, etc.”
Sonoma County Ass'n of Retired Employees v.
Sonoma County, 708 F.3d 1109, 1117 (9th Cir. 2013)
(internal quotation marks and alterations omitted). Thus,
despite there being good cause for extending the deadline for
amending the pleadings, amendment will still be denied if it
is the product of bad faith, would be futile, or would
First Affirmative Defense: Res Judicata/Claim
defendant's response to plaintiff's motion to dismiss
(Dkt. # 53 at 8), he argued that res judicata was a defense
to plaintiff's breach of contract claim. In that context,
the Court found that, despite the fact that plaintiff alleged
a breach of the I-864 affidavit and requested enforcement of
those obligations in her divorce petition, there was no
indication that the claim was actually litigated or resolved
in the state proceedings. The Court therefore concluded that
the res judicata defense failed as a matter of law.
Court sees no reason to reconsider that conclusion. “To
determine whether the doctrine bars a suit, the Court looks
to the res judicata rules of the state from which the
original judgment arises.” Li Liu v. Kell, 299
F.Supp.3d 1128, 1132 (W.D. Wash. 2017). In the Commonwealth
of Virginia, the claim preclusion prong of res judicata bars
successive litigation of a claim on which final judgment has
been entered, even if new facts or issues could be brought to
bear. The issue preclusion prong bars successive litigation
of issues of fact or law that were resolved in the earlier
action and were essential to the judgment entered, even if
the issue subsequently arises in the context of an entirely
new claim. Lee v. Spoden, 776 S.E.2d 798, 803 (Va.
2015). No. judgment was entered on plaintiff's I-864
breach of contract claim, there is no evidence that the state
court ever mentions or considers that claim, the Marital
Agreement that was incorporated into the state court ...