United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER DENYING MOTION TO AMEND COMPLAINT AND DENYING
MOTION TO REOPEN DISCOVERY
RICARDO S. MARTINEZ, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiffs' Motion to
Amend Complaint (Dkt. #67), and Motion for Extension of Time
to Complete Discovery (Dkt. #68). Plaintiffs in this case are
inmates at Monroe Correctional Complex who allege they were
denied requests to be placed on a Ramadan List-i.e.
to be provided meals that satisfy religious requirements-for
the month of Ramadan in 2018. See Dkt. #59
case was filed on June 10, 2018. The deadlines for amending
pleadings and joining parties passed on September 12, 2018.
Dkt. #56. Plaintiffs filed an Amended Complaint on that date.
now seek to amend again to “add three new Plaintiffs
who Defendants refused to add to the Ramadan List, and who
did not receive Ramadan meals for part of Ramadan 2019,
” and to add new facts learned in discovery and new
legal arguments including a new claim under the Establishment
Clause. Dkt. #67 at 4. Plaintiffs' other Motion seeks
leave to conduct additional written discovery as to the
events of Ramadan 2019. Dkt. #68.
the first issue, Plaintiffs specifically argue:
As discovery related to the Ramadan 2018 Plaintiffs was
wrapping up in May and June 2019, Ramadan 2019 occurred. When
the Ramadan 2019 period began on May 6, Plaintiffs'
counsel learned of complaints from other inmates at Monroe
who were not receiving Ramadan meals. Treating the
Department's failure to once again add fasting Muslim
inmates to the Ramadan List as an emergency that could result
in starvation, Plaintiffs' counsel immediately travelled
to Washington. Over the course of a business week,
Plaintiffs' counsel managed to pressure the Department to
add all individuals counsel was aware of to the Ramadan List.
This foreclosed the need to seek another temporary
restraining order or preliminary injunction. Still, the
Department's actions surrounding Ramadan 2019 denied
additional Muslim inmates food and violated those
inmates' civil rights. The Department's actions
further indicate the same issues are likely to repeat in 2020
and beyond. Three inmates who exhausted the emergency
grievance process should be added as Plaintiffs.
Dkt. #67 at 3.
district court files a scheduling order pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 16 and the deadlines for amending a
pleading or joining a party expire, a party's motion to
amend a pleading or join an additional party is governed by
Rule 16, not Rule 15. See Johnson v. Mammoth Recreations,
Inc., 975 F.2d 604, 607-08 (9th Cir. 1992).
scheduling order “may be modified only for good cause
and with the judge's consent.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
16(b)(4). The decision to modify a scheduling order is within
the broad discretion of the district court. Johnson,
975 F.2d at 607. “Rule 16(b)'s ‘good
cause' standard primarily considers the diligence of the
party seeking amendment.” Id. at 609. If a
party has acted diligently yet still cannot reasonably meet
the scheduling deadlines, the court may allow modification of
the schedule. Id. However, “if that party was
not diligent, the inquiry should end” and the motion to
modify should not be granted. Id. Local Civil Rule
16(m) states that “this rule will be strictly
enforced” in order to “accomplish effective
pretrial procedures and avoid wasting the time of the
parties, counsel, and the court.” While prejudice to
the party opposing the modification may provide additional
reasons for denying the motion, it is not required to deny a
motion to amend under Rule 16(b). Coleman v. Quaker Oats
Co., 232 F.3d 1271, 1295 (9th Cir. 2000).
the above standards, the Court will first analyze whether
Plaintiffs have been diligent in seeking this amendment and
to add new parties.
first complaint in this case was filed on June 10, 2018. Dkt.
#1. In 2018 Ramadan began on May 16 and ended on June 15.
Id. at 9 n.1. The parties filed a Joint Status
Report on August 2, 2018. Dkt. #55. At that time, Plaintiffs
explained they were “still in the process of
identifying potential new defendants and plaintiffs.”
Id. at 2. The parties proposed different deadlines
for the addition of new parties and amending the complaint.
Based on the submission of the parties, the Court issued a
scheduling order that set both the deadline for joining
additional parties and for amending pleadings on September
12, 2018. Dkt. #56. Plaintiffs filed an Amended Complaint on
September 12, 2018. Dkt. #59. Plaintiffs anticipated Ramadan
2019 becoming an issue at this early date. See id.
at 24 (“it is unlikely this case will be resolved
before Ramadan 2019 commences.”). In 2019, Ramadan
began on May 5 and ended on June 3.
Plaintiffs' own admission they were aware for months of
the potential for Ramadan 2019 to create new issues in this
case, and indeed Ramadan 2020 and so on. Yet Plaintiffs
waited until June 21, 2019, to file a Motion seeking leave to
add parties and claims and to expand the scope of this case.
By waiting until this late date, seven weeks after Ramadan
2019 began, Plaintiffs delayed the Court's ruling on this
issue until after dispositive motions have been filed. As
Defendants point out, “had they filed their motion on
May 15, 2019, when they most recently raised the prospect of
amending the complaint with defense counsel, the motion could
have been noted for consideration before the close of
discovery and the dispositive motion deadline. Instead, they
waited until after completion of written discovery and the
day before the already extended discovery cutoff.” Dkt.
#71 at 7. This does not strike the Court as demonstrating
Court acknowledges that, given the nature of this case,
including the inherent delays associated with representing
inmates, there are mitigating factors to explain
Plaintiffs' counsel's delay in filing these Motions.
See Dkt. #81 at 2-3. Considering these mitigating
factors, the Court does not base its ruling solely on
Court thus turns to the question of prejudice to the party
opposing amendment. The Court agrees with Defendants that
this late amendment and addition of parties would
significantly frustrate Defendants' ability to defend
this case before trial, and likely result in a whole new
period of discovery and dispositive motion drafting.
See Dkt. #71 at 6. Any efficiencies gained by adding
these new plaintiffs to this case, rather than allowing them
to file a separate action, are outweighed by prejudice to the
opposing party, and even ...