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Cartier v. Western Electricity Coordinating Council

United States District Court, D. Colorado

April 2, 2015

MATTHEW CARTIER, on behalf of himself and all similarly situated persons, Plaintiff,
v.
WESTERN ELECTRICITY COORDINATING COUNCIL, a Utah corporation, Defendant.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO: 1) JOIN ADDITIONAL PLAINTIFFS; AND 2) AMEND PLEADINGS (Docket No. 45)

MICHAEL J. WATANABE, Magistrate Judge.

This case currently includes an "opt in" collective-action claim under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and an "opt out" class-action claim under Colorado wage statutes. Plaintiff has moved to amend his pleadings to abandon the class-action mechanism, add all putative class members (less than 20) as named plaintiffs, and add a claim under Washington State wage statutes. (Docket No. 45.) District Judge William J. Martinez referred the motion to the undersigned. (Docket No. 46.)

The court has reviewed the parties' filings (Docket Nos. 45, 49, & 52), taken judicial notice of the court's entire file on this case, and considered the applicable Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, statutes, and case law. Now being fully informed, the court makes the following findings of fact, conclusions of law, and recommendation that Plaintiff's motion be denied.

DISCUSSION

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15 governs the amendment of pleadings. Because Plaintiff has already amended once, and because Defendant opposes the most recent amendment, Plaintiff must seek the court's leave to file the Second Amended Class Action Complaint. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a). Pursuant to Rule 15, "[t]he court should freely give leave when justice so requires." Id. at 15(a)(2). "The purpose of the Rule is to provide litigants the maximum opportunity for each claim to be decided on its merits rather than on procedural niceties.'" Minter v. Prime Equip. Co., 451 F.3d 1196, 1204 (10th Cir. 2006). Thus,

"[i]n the absence of any apparent or declared reason-such as 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, futility of amendment, etc.-the leave sought should, as the rules require, be freely given.'"

Id. (quoting Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962)).

However, the Scheduling Order set a deadline of May 26, 2014, for amending the pleadings and joining parties. (Docket No. 20, p.8.) Where a motion to amend comes after the Scheduling Order deadline, the moving party must also meet the "good cause" standard of Rule 16(b):

In practice, this standard requires the movant to show the "scheduling deadlines cannot be met despite [the movant's] diligent efforts." Rule 16's good cause requirement may be satisfied, for example, if a plaintiff learns new information through discovery or if the underlying law has changed. If the plaintiff knew of the underlying conduct but simply failed to raise [the new] claims, however, the claims are barred.

Gorsuch, Ltd., B.C. v. Wells Fargo Nat. Bank Ass'n, 771 F.3d 1230, 1240-41 (10th Cir. 2014) (internal citations omitted). Further,

Rule 16(b)'s "good cause" standard is much different than the more lenient standard contained in Rule 15(a). Rule 16(b) does not focus on the bad faith of the movant, or the prejudice to the opposing party. Rather, it focuses on the diligence of the party seeking leave to modify the Scheduling Order to permit the proposed amendment. Properly construed, "good cause" means that the scheduling deadlines cannot be met despite a party's diligent efforts. In other words, this court may modify the schedule on a showing of good cause if [the deadline] cannot be met despite the diligence of the party seeking the extension.

Pumpco, Inc. v. Schenker Int'l, Inc., 204 F.R.D. 667, 668 (D. Colo. 2001) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted).

Adding Washington State-Law Claim

As to adding Washington state-law claims, Plaintiff cannot meet the good-cause standard. Plaintiff points to no new facts, no newly discovered evidence, and no change in underlying law that might warrant amending the pleadings. For all appearances, it seems Plaintiff simply failed to appreciate that some number ...


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