United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
C. Coughenour UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff's motion to
amend complaint (Dkt. No. 16). Having thoroughly considered
the parties' briefing and the relevant record, the Court
finds oral argument unnecessary and hereby GRANTS the motion
for the reasons explained herein.
owns and operates The Summit at Snoqualmie, which in turn
owns and operates a number of “snowcats that are used
to groom its ski areas.” (Dkt. No. 1-2 at 2.) The
snowcats use Type F ATF fluid. (Id.) Plaintiff
alleges that during the summer of 2014, Defendant marketed
and sold Plaintiff “Shaeffer Oil All Trans” for
use in Plaintiff's snowcats. (Id.) In January
2016, Plaintiff realized that All Trans was causing
significant damage to the snowcats. (Id. at 3.) On
December 18, 2018, Plaintiff brought suit against Defendant
in King County Superior Court, asserting claims for breach of
express warranty in violation of Washington law and the
Uniform Commercial Code and for negligence. (Id. at
3-4.) Defendant removed the case on January 14, 2019. (Dkt.
parties have conducted written discovery and Plaintiff has
taken the depositions of Defendant's sales representative
and Defendant's Rule 30(b)(6) designee. (See
Dkt. No. 17 at 1- 2.) During his deposition, Defendant's
sales representative testified that his position required him
to be “familiar with the technical data sheets for the
products” he sold. (Dkt. No. 17-1 at 3.) In May 2019,
Plaintiff issued discovery requests to Defendant.
(See Dkt. Nos. 16 at 2, 17-2 at 15- 16.) On October
21, 2019, Defendant disclosed supplemental discovery in
response to the May 2019 discovery requests, including the
relevant technical data sheet for All Trans. (See
Dkt. No. 16 at 3.) The technical data sheet purportedly
demonstrates that All Trans was not compatible with
Plaintiff's snowcats. (See id. at 2-3.) It was
not available online. (Id.)
now moves to amend its complaint to assert a claim arising
under Washington's Consumer Protection Act
(“CPA”) based on the deposition testimony of
Defendant's sales representative and the recently
disclosed discovery. (See generally id.)
party moves to amend its pleadings after the date specified
in the court's scheduling order, then Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 16 governs the request. Johnson v.
Mammoth Recreations, Inc., 975 F.2d 604, 608 (9th Cir.
1992). Unlike Rule 15(a), which provides a liberal amendment
policy, Rule 16(b)(4) requires a showing of good cause before
a scheduling order may be changed. “Although the
existence or degree of prejudice to the party opposing the
modification might supply additional reasons to deny a
motion, the focus of the inquiry [under Rule 16] is upon the
moving party's reasons for seeking modification . . . .
If that party was not diligent, the inquiry should
end.” Johnson, 975 F.2d at 609; see In re
W. States Whole Sale Nat. Gas Antitrust Litig., 715 F.3d
716, 737 (9th Cir. 2013) (affirming district court's
denial of motion to modify scheduling order where moving
party was “aware of the facts and theories supporting
amendment since the inception of the
pleading amendment deadline set forth by the Court's
scheduling order passed on August 2, 2019. (See Dkt.
No. 11.) The instant motion to amend was not filed until
November 6, 2019, and thus Plaintiff must establish good
cause sufficient to justify amending the Court's
scheduling order to allow the amendment. See Fed. R.
Civ. P. 16(b)(4); Johnson, 975 F.2d at 609.
Plaintiff argues that it could not have moved to amend its
complaint because it was not aware of the basis of its
proposed CPA claim until Defendant disclosed the relevant
data sheet in October 2019, after the pleading amendment
deadline had already expired. (See Dkt. No. 16 at
5.) Defendant asserts that Plaintiff was not diligent because
it has been aware of the facts underlying its proposed CPA
claim and because Plaintiff either possessed or could have
possessed the relevant technical data sheet before the
amendment deadline expired. (Dkt. No. 18 at 3-4.) But
Plaintiff has demonstrated that any delay is primarily
attributable to Defendant's slow response to
Plaintiff's discovery requests, that its prior possession
of the data sheet did not excuse Defendant from its discovery
obligations, and that Plaintiff could not obtain the data
sheet at issue except through discovery in this case.
(See 21 at 1-2.) Therefore, Plaintiff acted with
reasonable diligence in filing the instant motion for leave
to amend its complaint.
raises a number of other arguments as to why Plaintiff's
proposed amendment should be denied. Defendant asserts that
Plaintiff's motion to amend should be denied because its
proposed CPA claim is subsumed by its Washington Products
Liability Act (“PLA”) claim. (Dkt. No. 18 at 4-5)
(citing Washington State Physicians Ins. Exchange &
Ass'n v. Fisons Corp., 858 P.2d 1054, 1066 (Wash.
1993). But the Fisons court actually held that the
PLA “does allow claimants to bring a [CPA] claim since
that cause of action has been specifically exempted from the
preemptive effect of the [PLA].” Id. at
1066-67. In a similar vein, Defendant argues that
Plaintiff has not identified facts sufficient to support a
prima facie claim under the CPA. See Dkt.
No. 18 at 5-7) (citing Hangman Ridge Training Stables,
Inc. v. Safeco Title Ins. Co., 719 P.2d 531 (Wash.
1986)). But in doing so, Defendant disregards case law
analyzing whether a CPA claim may arise from a private
transaction and ignores that discovery may produce additional
facts supporting Plaintiff's proposed CPA claim. See
Sign-O-Lite Signs, Inc. v. DeLaurenti Florists, Inc.,
825 P.2d 714, 718-21 (Wash.Ct.App. 1992). Thus, both of
Defendant's arguments are unavailing.
also argues that Plaintiff is estopped from contradicting its
discovery responses and the testimony of its Rule 30(b)(6)
deponent. (See Dkt. No. 18 at 7-9) (citing New
Hampshire v. Maine, 532 U.S. 742, 750 (2001)).
Specifically, Defendant asserts that Plaintiff has stated
that it is only seeking damages resulting from the damage
caused to the snowcats and labor costs and thus cannot now
seek attorney fees or treble damages pursuant to its proposed
CPA claim. (Id.) But, as Plaintiff reasonably points
out, Plaintiff could not have asserted its CPA claim before
it became aware of the basis of that claim, and could not be
expected to assert damages theories unique to that claim
before asserting the claim itself. (See Dkt. No. 21
at 4.) Therefore, the Court declines to find that Plaintiff
is estopped from pleading new damages theories at this early
stage of the litigation.
Defendant argues that it will be prejudiced if Plaintiff is
allowed to amend its complaint, as Defendant has already
taken the deposition of Plaintiff's Rule 30(b)(6)
deponent and the proposed amendments will increase
Defendant's litigation burden. (See Dkt. No. 18
at 9- 10.) While the Court recognizes the increased burden
Defendant will face from having to defend itself from an
additional claim, the Court finds that any prejudice to
Defendant is overcome by the good cause established by
Plaintiff. See Johnson, 975 F.2d at 609.
foregoing reasons, Plaintiff's motion to amend complaint
(Dkt. No. 16) is GRANTED. Plaintiff shall file its amended
complaint no later ...