United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
U.S. BANK, N.A., Plaintiff,
THE GLOGOWSKI LAW FIRM, PLLC d/b/a ALLEGIANT LAW GROUP, and KATRINA GLOGOWSKI, Defendants.
C. COUGHENOUR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff's motion for
leave to amend its complaint (Dkt. No. 28). Having considered
the parties' briefing and the relevant record, the Court
GRANTS the motion for the reasons explained herein.
January 16, 2019, Plaintiff filed a verified complaint
against Defendants, alleging that Defendants caused Plaintiff
to lose its interest in real property in Seattle (the
“Erickson property”) by failing to reasonably
monitor, propel forward, and litigate proceedings relating to
that property. (See Dkt. No. 1 at 1-2.) Defendants
filed their first answer to the complaint on February 22,
2019. (Dkt. No. 11.) In that answer, Defendants denied the
allegations, raised affirmative defenses, and brought
counterclaims. (See generally id.) Those
counterclaims related to the Erickson property: Defendants
alleged that they competently represented Plaintiff's
interest in the property and that Plaintiff failed to pay
Defendants for their representation. (See Id. at
31, 2019, Defendants expanded the scope of the case by filing
an amended answer that included counterclaims for
“additional services rendered”-services unrelated
to the Erickson property. (See Dkt. No. 23 at 9-11.)
After filing the amended answer, Defendants served initial
disclosure documents on Plaintiff on July 12, 2019.
(See Dkt. No. 28 at 2.) Plaintiff claims that in the
course of reviewing those documents, it identified two
additional matters for which Defendants provided deficient
legal services. (See Id. at 2-3.) Once Plaintiff
identified the additional matters-one of which is listed in
Defendants' amended answer-it moved for leave to amend
its complaint to add claims relating to those matters.
(Id.) Plaintiff also seeks to amend its complaint to
correct a date reference and to add language from the
contract attached to its original complaint. (See
Dkt. No. 28-1 at 5-6, 9.) Plaintiff filed the instant motion
before the deadline for amending pleadings had passed.
(See Dkt. Nos. 26, 28.)
Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(1) allows a plaintiff to amend
a complaint “once as a matter of
course”-i.e., without a court's
approval-within (1) 21 days after the plaintiff serves the
complaint or (2) 21 days after the defendant serves a motion
under Rule 12(b), (e), or (f), whichever is earlier. If a
plaintiff can no longer amend their complaint as a
“matter of course, ” then they “may amend .
. . only with the opposing party's written consent or the
court's leave.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). Rule
15(a)(2) states that “court[s] should freely give leave
when justice so requires.” When deciding whether to
give leave, courts considers four factors: (1) undue delay,
(2) bad faith, (3) prejudice to the opposing party, and (4)
futility. Griggs v. Pace Am. Group, Inc., 170 F.3d
877, 880 (9th Cir. 1999). These factors are weighed
“with all inferences in favor of granting the
motion.” Id. “Rule 15's policy of
favoring amendments, ” the Ninth Circuit has said,
“should be applied with extreme liberality.”
Roth v. Garcia Marques, 942 F.2d 617, 628 (9th Cir.
object to Plaintiff amending its complaint to add new claims
on the grounds that (1) Plaintiff should have known of the
facts giving rise to Plaintiff's new claims prior to
Defendants serving their initial disclosure documents to
Plaintiff on July 12, 2019; (2) Plaintiff is seeking to amend
its complaint in bad faith after realizing its original
claims are defective; and (3) Plaintiff's proposed
amendment would prejudice Defendants by forcing them to
engage in voluminous discovery that they could not have
anticipated. (See Dkt. No. 30 at 5-8.) The first
argument has some merit-Plaintiff probably could have brought
its new claims sooner. However, there is no evidence that
Plaintiff brought the claims in bad faith or that allowing
the claims will prejudice Defendants.
first Rule 15(a)(2) factor is undue delay. In assessing
whether there is undue delay, a court must do more than ask
if the motion to amend complies with the court's
scheduling order; the court must also inquire “whether
the moving party knew or should have known the facts and
theories raised by an amendment in the original
pleading.” AmerisourceBergen Corp. v. Dialysist
West, Inc., 464 F.3d 946, 953 (9th Cir. 2006) (quoting
Jackson v. Bank of Hawaii, 902 F.2d 1385, 1388 (9th
Cir. 1990)). If a party should have known the relevant facts
but waits an unreasonable time to amend, then the delay may
be “undue.” See, e.g., id.
(affirming district court decision to deny leave where moving
party knew the relevant facts but waited 15 months to amend);
Texaco v. Ponsoldt, 939 F.2d 794, 799 (9th Cir.
1991) (upholding district court's conclusion that
eight-month delay was undue). However, “delay alone no
matter how lengthy is an insufficient ground for denial of
leave to amend.” United States v. Webb, 655
F.2d 977, 980 (9th Cir. 1981). For a court to deny leave,
there must also be evidence of bad faith or prejudice.
Id. (citing Howey v. United States, 481
F.2d 1187, 1191 (9th Cir. 1973)).
case, Plaintiff offers a somewhat unsatisfying explanation
for why it is only now bringing claims for two new matters.
Plaintiff states that its new claims are based
“largely” on information it learned from
investigating Defendants' counterclaims and initial
disclosures. (See Dkt. No. 28 at 3.) Yet, that
information was presumably in Plaintiff's possession
already. After all, Plaintiff had enough information to file
its original complaint, which contained claims that are very
similar to the ones it now proposes. (Compare Dkt.
No. 1, with Dkt. No. 28-1.) And even if
Defendants' initial disclosures provided important
information, that information likely related to only one of
the new matters for which Defendants allegedly provided
deficient legal services. (See Dkt. No. 28 at 2)
(noting that one of the new matters is listed in