United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO AMEND
S. Lasnik, United States District Judge.
matter comes before the Court on “Plaintiff's
Motion to Amend Complaint.” Dkt. #53. For the following
reasons, plaintiff's motion is GRANTED.
Krista Peoples is an insured of defendants United Services
Automobile Association and USAA Casualty Insurance Company
(collectively “USAA”). Dkt. #1-1 at ¶ 11. On
September 26, 2015, plaintiff was involved in an automobile
accident in Seattle, Washington. Id. at ¶ 7.
Plaintiff sought medical treatment for injuries sustained
during the accident and submitted a claim for reimbursement
under the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage of her
policy. Id at ¶¶ 17, 22. USAA denied full
payment of plaintiffs medical expenses. Id at ¶
the Washington PIP statute, RCW 48.22.005(7), insurers are
required to cover all “reasonable and necessary”
medical expenses incurred by an insured as a result of
injuries sustained in an automobile accident. Plaintiffs
complaint alleges that USAA uses an automated, computerized
program to determine whether submitted claims “exceed
a reasonable amount for the service provided.”
Id at ¶ 30. Plaintiff alleges that USAA does
not independently investigate bills before denying coverage.
Id at ¶¶ 28-30. Plaintiff alleges that
this practice violates the Consumer Protection Act (CPA), RCW
19.86, and moved for class certification of the CPA claim
under Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(a) and (b)(3). Id; Dkt. #23.
March 8, 2019, while the class certification motion was
pending, plaintiff moved to amend her complaint. Dkt. #53.
Plaintiff seeks to add an individual and a class claim for
breach of contract. Id The proposed amendments
include allegations that defendants' automated computer
review relies on a sample of nationwide fees and does not
distinguish reasonable charges within a specific geographic
area. Id at 4-5. On April 26, 2019, the Court
granted plaintiffs motion to certify the following class for
purposes of the CPA claim. Dkt. #60.
All Washington insureds who from September 1, 2015 to July 5,
2018 (“Class period”) had their PIP claims for
reimbursement of medical expenses reduced by Defendant USAA
based solely on an Explanation of Reimbursement
(“EOR”) form sent to the insured's provider
stating that the bill exceeded a “reasonable amount for
the service provided.”
Id at 8. Defendants do not oppose plaintiffs
proposed addition of an individual breach of contract claim.
Dkt. #57 at 2. Defendants object only to the addition of a
class claim. Id
“should freely give leave [to amend] when justice so
requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). The discretion 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
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. Allen v. City of Beverly
Hills, 911 F.2d 367, 373 (9th Cir. 1990) (citing
Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178 (1962)). Courts must
grant all inferences in favor of allowing amendment.
Griggs v. Pace Am Group, Inc., 170 F.3d 877, 880
(9th Cir. 1999). The party opposing amendment has the burden
of showing that amendment is not warranted. DCD Programs,
Ltd. v. Leighton, 833 F.2d 183, 187 (9th Cir. 1987).
motion is plaintiffs first motion to amend her complaint.
Plaintiff argues that defendants will not be prejudiced by
the amendment and that none of the other factors apply. Dkt.
#53 at 6. Defendants argue that plaintiff unduly delayed
filing her motion to amend and that they would be prejudiced
by adding the proposed class contract claim. Dkt. #57 at 2.
Court has defined “undue delay” as a “delay
that prejudices the nonmoving party or imposes unwarranted
burdens on the court.” Mansfield v. Pfaff, No.
C14- 0948JLR, 2014 WL 3810581, at *4 (W.D. Wash. Aug. 1,
2014). Defendants argue that plaintiff unduly delayed filing
this motion because plaintiffs counsel has known about the
information giving rise to the proposed contract claim since
at least 2013. Id. at 6. Plaintiff asserts that she
learned of the information after “recent
discovery” in “litigation against USAA in another
state” (Dkt. #53 at 1, 4), and the record is
insufficient to determine whether plaintiff was aware of all
of the facts at the time of her initial complaint. Even if
plaintiff knew this information at the time of her original
pleading, that fact alone does not constitute an adequate
basis for denying leave to amend because defendant has not
shown prejudice as a result of the alleged delay. Kische
USA LLC v. Simsek, No. C16-0168JLR, 2017 WL 698790, at
*4 (W.D. Wash. Feb. 22, 2017). Plaintiffs motion was filed
before the deadline for amending pleadings, the close of
discovery, and the dispositive motions deadline. See
MidMoutain Contractors, Inc. v. Am Safety Indem Co., No.
C10-1239JLR, 2013 WL 12116509, at *3 (W.D. Wash. May 7, 2013)
(finding no undue delay where defendant knew about theory
raised in its motion to amend at the time of the original
pleading when no major litigation dates had passed). The
Court does not find a basis for undue delay.