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Albert v. Laboratory Corporation of America

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

October 3, 2019

ROBERT ALBERT, Plaintiff,
v.
LABORATORY CORPORATION OF AMERICA, Defendant.

          ORDER

          MICHELLE L. PETERSON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant Laboratory Corporation of America's (“Defendant” or “LabCorp”) motion for leave to amend the answer to add counterclaims and affirmative defense. (Dkt. # 25 (“Mot.”).) Plaintiff Robert Albert opposes Defendant's motion (dkt. # 29 (“Opp'n”)) and Defendant submitted a reply (dkt. # 36 (“Reply”)). The Court, having reviewed the parties' submissions, the governing law, and the balance of the record, and finding oral argument unnecessary, GRANTS in part and DENIES in part Defendant's motion.

         II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         This matter is an age discrimination action arising out of Plaintiff's employment for LabCorp, a healthcare diagnostic company. (Dkt. # 1-4 (“Compl.”) at ¶¶ 4-1, 4.4.) Plaintiff alleges that during his employment, he was subject to discriminatory comments regarding his age. (Id. at ¶¶ 4.14-4.16, 4.22-4.24.) After turning 60, Plaintiff alleges that his direct supervisor and other company leadership began making comments and suggestions about Plaintiff's retirement despite the fact Plaintiff had no intention of retiring. (Id. at ¶¶ 4.22-4.24.) Plaintiff also alleges that in June 2018, he was informed that LabCorp's CEO and Chairman intended to promote him to Senior Vice President. (Id. at ¶ 4.26.) Plaintiff alleges that soon after, his direct supervisor took action to undermine this promotion by discrediting Plaintiff due to his age and also made efforts to suggest a younger candidate for the position. (Id. at ¶¶ 4.28-4.30.) Plaintiff argues that as a result, he was not only denied the promotion, but he was also demoted. (Id. at ¶¶ 4.32, 4.44.) Lastly, Plaintiff alleges he was subjected to a meeting on October 17, 2018 with his direct supervisor and a representative from the human resources department during which he was presented with a letter purporting to acknowledge Plaintiff's retirement. (Id. at ¶¶ 4.39, 4.40.) Plaintiff alleges that he had no intention of retiring, but nonetheless signed the letter and was effectively terminated on January 1, 2019. (Id. at ¶ 4.44); (Dkt. # 30 (“Rittereiser Decl.”), Ex. A (“October 2018 Letter”).)

         III. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Albert served his complaint on Defendant's registered agent on March 19, 2019. (See Compl.) Defendant removed the matter to this Court on April 8, 2019. (Dkt. # 1 (“Notice of Removal”).) Defendant filed its answer on April 30, 2019. (Dkt. # 19 (“Answer”).) On May 9, 2019, the parties held a 26(f) conference, at which time Defendant served Plaintiff with its first set of interrogatories and requests for production. (Ritteresier Decl. at ¶ 6.) On May 30, 2019, the parties agreed to attend mediation. (Dkt. # 26 (“Nevolis Decl.”) at ¶ 5.) The deadline to amend pleadings passed on July 22, 2019. (Dkt. # 24 (“Sched. Order”) at 2.) An unsuccessful mediation was held on August 1, 2019. (Id. at ¶ 7.) Plaintiff served his first set of interrogatories and requests for production on Defendant on August 5, 2019. (Ritteresier Decl. at ¶ 8.)

         Defendant first communicated its intention to amend its answer to Plaintiff on August 27, 2019. (Rittereiser Decl. at ¶ 10.) Plaintiff advised Defendant that he would not stipulate to Defendant's proposed amendments on September 3, 2019. (Id. at ¶ 11.) Defendant repeated its request and Plaintiff again declined to stipulate on September 11, 2019. (Id. at ¶ 12.) Defendant filed the instant motion for leave to amend the answer the following day. (See Mot.)

         Defendant seeks leave to amend its answer to Plaintiff's complaint to add counterclaims for breach of the implied duty of good faith and fair dealing, unjust enrichment, and attorney's fees and costs under RCW 4.84.185. Defendant asserts that each of these causes of actions arise out of Plaintiff's underlying age discrimination action, specifically the October 2018 letter signed by Plaintiff regarding his departure from LabCorp. (Mot. at 3.) Defendant asserts the letter was an agreement with Plaintiff that he would retire effective November 22, 2019 in exchange for retirement benefits that he would not have been entitled to if he were terminated. (Id. at 3.) Defendant also seeks to add an affirmative defense of offset based on the retirement benefits Defendant asserts Plaintiff received. (Id. at 1.)

         Plaintiff opposes Defendant's motion, arguing that Defendant has not shown good cause for leave to amend pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16. (Opp'n at 10-11.) Plaintiff further argues that even if Defendant could show good cause, its proposed amendments are futile, prejudicial, sought in bad faith, and amount to undue delay under Rule 15. (Id. at 12-15.)

         IV. DISCUSSION

         The general rule is that amendment of pleadings is to be permitted unless the opposing party makes a showing of undue delay, bad faith, undue prejudice, or futility of amendment on the part of the moving party.” Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962); see also Leadsinger, Inc. v. BMG Music Publ., 512 F.3d 522, 532 (9th Cir. 2008). Generally, a motion for leave to amend a complaint would be governed by Rule 15(a), which liberally allows amendments to pleadings. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2) (“The court should freely give leave [to amend pleadings] when justice so requires.”).

         However, once the court enters a pretrial scheduling order that sets a deadline to amend pleadings and a party moves to amend a pleading after the deadline, the court evaluates the motion to amend under Rule 16 and its more stringent “good cause” standard. Coleman v. Quaker Oats Co., 232 F.3d 1271, 1294 (9th Cir. 2000); see also AmerisourceBergen Corp. v. Dialysist West, Inc., 465 F.3d 946, 952 (9th Cir. 2006). A court considering a party's request for leave to amend the pleadings after the scheduling order deadline has passed must engage in a two-step analysis: the court first asks whether the party has satisfied Rule 16's more stringent “good cause” requirement, and if good cause is shown, the court then considers whether amendment would be proper under Rule 15. Johnson v. Mammoth Recreations, Inc., 975 F.2d 604, 608 (9th Cir. 1992). “Unlike Rule 15(a)'s liberal amendment policy which focuses on the bad faith of the party seeking to interpose an amendment and the prejudice to the opposing party, 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 despite the diligence of the party seeking the extension.'” Id. at 609.

         A. Rule 16's ...


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