United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO AMEND HIS
S. LASNIK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on “Defendant's
Motion for Leave to File Amended Counterclaim Joining an
Additional Party.” Dkt. # 47. Between April and
December 2018, defendant Senyon Teddy Choe was a member of
Curevo's Scientific Advisory Board (“SAB”).
The relationship was terminated on or about December 5, 2018,
and Curevo filed this action seeking a determination that
Choe was an independent contractor and therefore has no right
to stock options that had not vested at the time of the
termination. Choe filed a counterclaim of wrongful
termination in violation of public policy, alleging that
Curevo terminated him because he had filed a lawsuit in South
Korea against Curevo's minority shareholder, Mogam
Institute for Biomedical Research (“MIBR”), and
because Choe refused to participate in unlawful business
practices in his role as director and trustee of MIBR.
seeks leave to amend his answer to add MIBR as a defendant in
this matter. The original complaint alleges that:
• MIBR' had a 17% ownership interest in Curevo;
• Green Cross Corporation owns the other 83% of
• Curevo, MIBR, and Green Cross are part of a family of
companies, and the chairman of Green Cross holds the same
position at MIBR;
• Choe accepted a position on Curevo's SAB as part
of his employment with MIBR;
• Choe performed critical services for Curevo;
• “Curevo's high-level business decisions were
all subject to the final approval of its parent Green Cross
as part of Choe's duties as the former Director of
MIBR” (Dkt. # 45 at 6-7);
• Choe and members of Green Cross disagreed in 2018
regarding business practices at MIBR, and the chairman of
Green Cross/MIBR asked Choe to resign from MIBR: when he
declined, Choe was terminated as a director at MIBR, although
he retained his position on MIBR's board;
• Choe filed a wrongful termination claim against MIBR
in South Korea; and
• the chairman of Green Cross/MIBR and the
president/trustee of Green Cross/MIBR engineered Choe's
ouster from Curevo.
proposed complaint adds an assertion of personal jurisdiction
over MIBR and alleges that MIBR was his employer and that it
wrongfully terminated his employment with Curevo in violation
of public policy. Curevo opposes the proposed amendment on
the grounds that (1) it is futile and (2) adding MIBR, a
foreign corporation that Choe has already sued in South
Korea, would improperly allow Choe to pursue litigation
against MIBR in two fora, squandering the Court's and the
parties' resources and causing prejudice.
“should freely give leave [to amend] when justice so
requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). There is a
“strong policy in favor of allowing amendment”
(Kaplan v. Rose, 49 F.3d 1363, 1370 (9th Cir.
1994)), and “[c]ourts may decline to grant leave to
amend only if there is strong evidence of undue delay, bad
faith or dilatory motive on the part of the movant, repeated
failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously
allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing party by virtue of
allowance of the amendment, or futility of amendment,
etc.” Sonoma Cty. Ass'n of Retired Employees v.
Sonoma Cty., 708 F.3d 1109, 1117 (9th Cir. 2013)
(internal quotation marks and alterations omitted). ...