United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
HONORABLE JOHN C. COUGHENOUR, JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiffs' motion for
leave to amend their complaint and add parties (Dkt. No. 43).
Having thoroughly considered the parties' briefing and
the relevant record, the Court finds oral argument
unnecessary and hereby GRANTS the motion for the reasons
April 18, 2018, Plaintiffs initiated this class action
against Defendant Allstate Insurance Company, alleging that
Defendant violated the Washington Consumer Protection Act,
Revised Code of Washington section 19.86, by relying on
manipulated automobile valuation data (“condition
adjustments”) to underpay Plaintiffs' total claims
for insured loss vehicles. (See Dkt. No. 1 at 5-10.)
Plaintiffs allege that in making these condition adjustments,
Defendant used valuation reports provided by CCC Information
Services (“CCC”) which “purport[ed] to
contain values for comparable used vehicles recently sold or
for sale in the geographic area of the insured” as a
basis for valuing loss vehicles. (Id. at 6.)
Plaintiffs allege that Defendant instructed CCC regarding the
data included in CCC's reports and decided “whether
to base the valuation on gray-market vehicles that are not
comparable to the insured vehicle.” (Id.) In
its answer, Defendant generally denied Plaintiffs'
allegations, but admitted to using CCC's valuation
reports. (See generally Dkt. No. 25.) Plaintiffs
amended their complaint, joining Plaintiffs Michael Clothier
and Jacob Thompson and Defendant Allstate Fire and Casualty
Insurance Company, and adding allegations related to those
parties. (See Dkt. No. 36.) Per the extended case
schedule, the parties will file pleadings regarding class
certification beginning September 20, 2019. (See
Dkt. No. 40.)
again move to amend their complaint to join CCC as a
Defendant; to add allegations regarding gray market vehicles
and CCC's role in the calculation and use of condition
adjustments; to allege Defendants' and CCC's
conspiracy; and to clarify the class definition.
(See Dkt. No. 43 at 1.) Plaintiffs claim that their
proposed amendments will “aid in efficient
adjudication” of Plaintiffs' claims and are based
on newly discovered evidence. (See Dkt. Nos. 43 at
1-3, 44 at 2; see also Dkt. No. 44-3.) Defendants
oppose Plaintiffs' motion to amend, alleging that the
proposed amendments are made in bad faith, unduly delayed,
prejudicial, and futile. (See Dkt. No. 45 at 2.)
Pleading Amendment Standard
may amend a pleading once as a matter of course, subject to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(1). “In all other
cases, 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.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). The Court has
discretion to grant or deny a request to amend, but must
provide justification when it denies a request. Foman v.
Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962). To determine whether to
grant a party leave to amend a complaint, the Court considers
whether the proposed amendments: are made in bad faith and/or
with undue delay; prejudice the opposing party; or are
futile. See id.; see also United States v.
Corinthian Coll.'s, 655 F.3d 984, 995 (9th Cir.
2011). The Court also considers whether the plaintiff already
amended the complaint. Id. “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.” Eminence Capital, LLC v.
Aspeon, Inc., 316 F.3d 1048, 1052 (9th Cir. 2003);
see also DCD Programs, Ltd. v. Leighton, 833 F.2d
183, 188 (9th Cir. 1987).
may join “as many claims as it has against an opposing
party, ” including contingent claims. Fed.R.Civ.P. 18.
Joinder of a party is required if that party's absence
would: constrain the relief available to existing parties;
impair that party's opportunity to be heard on that
issue; or increase an existing party's obligations.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 19(a). Joinder of a party as a
defendant is permitted if a claim against that party arises
out of the same transaction or occurrence, and “any
question of law or fact common to all defendants will arise
in the action.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 20(a).
parties do not dispute that CCC was involved in the
calculation of condition adjustments that are the subject of
Plaintiffs' claims. (See generally Dkt. Nos. 36,
37, 44-3, 45.) There are common questions of law and fact as
to CCC's and Defendants' actions and duties. (See
generally Dkt. Nos. 36, 37, 44-3, 45.) Thus, joinder of
CCC as a Defendant is proper. Fed.R.Civ.P. 20. The Court will
next evaluate other factors pertaining to Plaintiffs'
Bad Faith and Undue Delay
Defendants allege that Plaintiffs' proposed amendments
are dilatory and made in bad faith because Plaintiffs
referenced CCC in their original complaint yet failed to name
CCC as a party. (Dkt. No. 45 at 2.) Defendants argue that
Plaintiff Clothier's testimony indicates that Plaintiffs
should have known the facts underlying their added gray
market vehicle allegations at the time of their initial
complaint. (See Id. at 7-8.) Defendants further
argue that Plaintiffs' amendments unreasonably delay the
Court and the parties. (Id. at 4-5.)
have not shown that Plaintiffs knew or should have known the
facts contained in their proposed amendments such that they
should have included those facts in their initial complaint.
Cf. Herzog v. Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co. of Hartford,
No. C16-5083-KLS, Dkt. No. 48 at 3-6 (W.D. Wash. 2017);
cf. AmerisourceBergen Corp. v. Dialysist W., Inc.,
465 F.3d 946, 953 (9th Cir. 2006). Plaintiffs cite to new
evidence obtained during discovery as the source of their
proposed amendments regarding gray market vehicles and
CCC's involvement. (See Dkt. Nos. 43, 44.)
Plaintiffs' actions do not suggest bad faith or undue
delay: Plaintiffs moved to amend within a reasonable time of
receiving Defendants' supplementary discovery responses
and portions of Defendants' contract with CCC, and after
the parties' telephonic conferences regarding discovery
matters. (See Dkt. No. 43 at 2.) Moreover, the
deadlines for class certification are still months away.
(See Dkt No. 40.) Thus, Plaintiffs' motion to
amend does not unduly delay litigation.