United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS' UNOPPOSED MOTION FOR
LEAVE TO FILE A SECOND AMENDED CLASS ACTION
L. ROBART UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the court is Plaintiffs Adama Jammeh and Oumie Sallah's
(collectively, “Plaintiffs”) motion for leave to
file a second amended class action complaint, which seeks to
(1) add William Wojdak-the allegedly controlling principle of
Defendant Columbia Debt Recovery, LLC, d/b/a Genesis
(“Columbia”)-as a defendant, (2) add a claim
under the Washington Landlord Tenant Act, RCW ch. 59.18, and
(3) bring class allegations on behalf of two classes of
Washington residents who were former tenants of apartments
managed by Defendant HNN Associates, LLC (“HNN”)
and who paid various move-out charges to HNN or its
collection agency Columbia. (See Mot. (Dkt. # 12);
see also Praecipe (Dkt. # 15) (attaching corrected
Ex. B to Mot.).) Defendants HNN, Gateway, LLC
(“Gateway”), and Columbia (collectively,
“Defendants”) failed to timely file an opposition
to Plaintiffs' motion. (See generally Dkt.) The
court has considered the motion, the submissions filed in
support of the motion, the relevant portions of the record,
and the applicable law. Being fully advised,  the court GRANTS
Plaintiffs' motion for leave to file a second amended
class action complaint. The court ORDERS Plaintiffs to file
their proposed second amended complaint (see Mot.,
Ex. A) within seven (7) days of the filing date of this
order. The court also DIRECTS the Clerk to file a schedule
for the motion for class certification.
are sisters who co-signed a lease on rental property in which
Ms. Jammeh lived with her children. (FAC (Dkt. # 1-5)
¶¶ 4.10-4.12.) Gateway owned the property, and HNN
managed it. (Id. ¶¶ 3.2-3.3.)
Approximately four months into the lease, HNN and Gateway
evicted Plaintiffs for reasons Plaintiffs allege are
pretextual and immaterial. (See Id. ¶¶
4.23-4.33.) HNN and Gateway then allegedly declared
Plaintiffs' security deposit forfeited and claimed
additional fees, which Plaintiffs dispute. (See Id.
¶¶ 4.34-4.61.) HNN then referred Plaintiffs'
account to Columbia for collections. (See Id.
¶¶ 4.62-4.71.) Plaintiffs assert that Mr. Wojdak
controls Columbia. (Mot. at 1.) // Plaintiffs filed their
complaint in King County Superior Court on March 7, 2019, and
filed a first amended complaint on April 25, 2019, which
added a claim under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
(“FDCPA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1962, et
seq. (See Compl. (Dkt. # 1-1); FAC (Dkt. # 3 at
51-71).) On April 26, 2019, Defendants removed the action to
federal court on the basis of 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and
1441(c). (Not. of Removal (Dkt. # 1).) Plaintiffs did not
oppose removal. (See generally Dkt.)
14, 2019, the court issued a scheduling order setting July
12, 2019, as the deadline for joining additional parties, and
April 16, 2020, as the deadline for amending pleadings.
(Sched. Order (Dkt. # 9) at 1.) Thus, Plaintiffs' July
12, 2019, motion seeking to add a defendant and amend the
allegations of their first amended complaint is timely.
(See id.; see also Mot.) As of the date
Plaintiffs filed their motion, no party has taken any
depositions or engaged in formal written discovery beyond
providing the required initial disclosures under Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 26(a). (Leonard Decl. (Dkt. # 13) ¶
Plaintiffs assert that the documents HNN produced in informal
discovery on May 10, 2019, “reveal specific ways that
HNN and Gateway . . . engaged in practices that violate the
Residential Landlord Tenant Act[, RCW ch. 59.18, ] along with
the Washington Consumer Protection Act [(“CPA”),
RCW ch. 19.86].” (Mot. at 2 (citing Leonard Decl.
¶¶ 3-5).) Plaintiffs also assert that these
documents and further investigation revealed the basis for
class action allegations on behalf of two classes of
Washington residents. The two proposed classes are based on
(1) the conduct of HNN and Gateway, and (2) Columbia's
debt collection practices. (Id. at 2-3.) Finally,
Plaintiffs assert that initial disclosures and independent
investigation reveal the basis for individual allegations
against Mr. Wojdak based on his control of the conduct and
practices of Columbia. (Id. at 3-4 (citing Leonard
Decl. ¶¶ 6-14, Exs. B-I).)
Standard of Review
may amend its complaint with leave of court, and “[t]he
court should freely give leave when justice so
requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). “[T]his policy
is to be applied with extreme liberality.”
Desertrain v. City of L.A., 754 F.3d 1147, 1154 (9th
Cir. 2014) (quoting Morongo Band of Mission Indians v.
Rose, 893 F.2d 1074, 1079 (9th Cir. 1990)). Under Rule
15(a), courts consider various factors, including: (1) bad
faith; (2) undue delay; (3) prejudice to the opposing party;
(4) futility of the amendment; and (5) whether the plaintiff
has previously amended the complaint. Eminence Capital,
LLC v. Aspeon, Inc., 316 F.3d 1048, 1052 (9th Cir. 2003)
(per curiam). These factors do not carry equal weight,
however, and prejudice is the touchstone of the analysis.
See id. It is also proper for courts to deny leave
to amend if the amendment would be futile or the amended
complaint would be dismissed. Platt Elec. Supply, Inc. v.
EOFF Elec., Inc., 522 F.3d 1049, 1060 (9th Cir. 2008).
The party opposing the amendment bears the burden of showing
why leave to amend should be denied. See, e.g.,
Desert Protective Council v. U.S. Dept. of the
Interior, 927 F.Supp.2d 949, 962 (S.D. Cal. 2013).
evaluating whether there has been undue delay, the Court must
consider ‘whether the moving party knew or should have
known the facts and theories raised by the amendment' at
an earlier time.” Dunbar v. Google, Inc., No.
5:12-cv-003305-LHK, 2012 WL 6202797, at *12 (N.D. Cal. Dec.
12, 2012). As discussed above, Plaintiffs only recently
learned of the bases for their proposed amendments.
(See Leonard Decl. ¶¶ 3-14, Exs. B-I.)
Further, Plaintiffs' motion is timely under the
scheduling order. (See Sched. Order at 1 (setting
July 12, 2019, as the deadline for joining additional
parties, and April 16, 2020, as the deadline for amending
pleadings).) The court concludes that this factor favors
permitting the proposed amendments.
No Bad Faith
faith occurs when “the plaintiff merely is seeking to
prolong the litigation by adding new but baseless legal
theories.” Griggs v. Pace Am. Grp., Inc., 170
F.3d 877, 881 (9th Cir. 1999). The operative facts that form
the basis of Plaintiffs' claims remain substantially the
same. Plaintiffs seek to add only (1) a legal claim based on
the Residential Landlord Tenant Act, RCW ch. 59.18, (2) an
individual defendant who is the chief executive officer of
and allegedly controls the conduct and policies of one of the
business defendants, and (3) class ...