Alila-Katita et al v. U.S. Bank National Association, No. 4:2016cv03950 - Document 65 (N.D. Cal. 2017)

Court Description: ORDER GRANTING 61 Motion to Amend Complaint and for Joinder. Signed by Judge Jeffrey S. White on January 23, 2017. (jswlc3S, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 1/23/2017)
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Alila-Katita et al v. U.S. Bank National Association Doc. 65 1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 7 Plaintiffs, 8 U.S. BANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION, Re: Dkt. No. 61 Defendant. 11 United States District Court Northern District of California ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO AMEND AND FOR JOINDER v. 9 10 Case No. 16-cv-03950-JSW BEATRICE ALILA-KATITA, et al., 12 Now before the Court for consideration is the motion to amend and for joinder filed by 13 14 Plaintiffs. The Court has considered the parties’ papers, relevant legal authority, and the record in 15 this case, and it finds the motion suitable for disposition without oral argument. See N.D. Civ. 16 L.R. 7-1(b). The Court VACATES the hearing scheduled for January 27, 2017, and it HEREBY 17 GRANTS Plaintiffs’ motion. The Court set forth the background of this dispute in its Orders 18 resolving Defendant’s motion to dismiss and Plaintiffs’ first motion for leave to amend and to join 19 additional plaintiffs. (See Docket Nos. 28, 59.) Accordingly, it shall not repeat the facts or 20 procedural history, unless it is material to the analysis. Plaintiffs now seek leave to amend their 21 complaint to join eleven individuals as Plaintiffs. (See Dkt. No. 61-1, Declaration of Edward J. 22 Wynne (“Wynne Decl.”), ¶ 3.) Three of those individuals are members of the Duran class. Eight 23 of the individuals were members of the class in the related case Trahan v. U.S. Bank National 24 Association, No. 09-cv-03111-JSW. (Id.) ANALYSIS 25 26 A. Applicable Legal Standards. 27 Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a) permits a party to amend its pleading once as a 28 matter of right any time before a responsive pleading has been served. Once a responsive pleading 1 has been served, however, the amendment requires written consent of the adverse party or leave of 2 the court, and leave “shall be freely given when justice requires.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a). “Rule 3 15’s policy of favoring amendments to pleadings should be applied with ‘extreme liberality.’” 4 United States v. Webb, 655 F.2d 977, 979 (9th Cir. 1981) (citation omitted). “Persons may join in one action as plaintiffs if: (A) they assert any right to relief jointly, 5 6 severally, or in the alternative with respect to or arising out of the same transaction, occurrence, or 7 series of transactions or occurrences; and (B) any question of law or fact common to all plaintiffs 8 will arise in the action.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 20(a)(1). “Rule 20 . . . is to be construed liberally in 9 order to promote trial convenience and to expedite the final determination of disputes, thereby preventing multiple lawsuits.” League to Save Lake Tahoe v. Tahoe Reg. Plan. Agency, 558 F.2d 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 914, 917 (9th Cir. 1977). “Under the rules, the impulse is toward entertaining the broadest 12 possible scope of action consistent with fairness to the parties; joinder of claims, parties and 13 remedies is strongly encouraged.” Id. (quoting United Mine Workers of Amer. v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 14 715, 724 (1966)). 15 B. 16 The Court Grants the Motion to Add Former Duran Class Members. Defendant consents to Plaintiffs’ request include Elisa Dimaggio and Eugenio Tobolo as 17 additional Plaintiffs. Accordingly, pursuant to the parties’ consent, the Court GRANTS, IN 18 PART, Plaintiffs’ motion. Plaintiffs also seek leave to amend to include Justin Chu as a Plaintiff. 19 Mr. Chu is a former member of the Duran class. 20 Defendant argues the Court should deny the motion to include Mr. Chu as a Plaintiff, 21 because Plaintiffs did not identify him until January 5, 2017. The Court set a deadline of 22 December 30, 2016 for Plaintiffs’ counsel to “advise Defendant’s counsel if there are any 23 additional persons who seek to join this litigation.” (Order Granting Leave to Amend at 6:11-12.) 24 Plaintiffs argue that they complied with this Order by advising Defendant that there were, in fact, 25 additional persons who wished to join the litigation. However, the Court also ordered that “[i]f 26 there are any such individuals and if the parties cannot agree upon whether those persons should 27 be added, Plaintiffs may file a motion for joinder, which shall be heard on January 27, 2017.” (Id. 28 at 6:16-18 (emphasis added).) The Court’s intent was for Plaintiffs to specifically identify the 2 1 individuals whom they wanted to include as Plaintiffs. However, Defendant has not articulated 2 any prejudice it has suffered as a result of the belated disclosure of Mr. Chu. Accordingly, for the reasons set forth in the Court’s previous Order granting leave to 3 4 amend, the Court GRANTS the motion to add Mr. Chu as a Plaintiff. 5 C. The Court Grants the Motion to Add Former Trahan Class Members as Plaintiffs. 6 The Court considers five factors to determine whether a motion for leave to file an 7 amended complaint should be granted under Rule 15: “‘(1) bad faith, (2) undue delay, (3) 8 prejudice to the opposing party, (4) futility of amendment[,]’” and (5) whether the moving party 9 previously amended a pleading. In re Western States Wholesale Nat. Gas Antitrust Litig., 715 F.3d 716, 738 (9th Cir. 2013) (quoting Allen v. City of Beverly Hills, 911 F.2d 367, 373 (9th Cir. 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 1990)); see also DCD Programs, Ltd. v. Leighton, 833 F.2d 183, 186 (9th Cir. 1987) (listing the 12 first four factors as factors to be considered). Each factor is not given equal weight. Eminence 13 Capital, LLC v. Aspeon, Inc., 316 F.3d 1048, 1052 (9th Cir. 2003); Bonin v. Calderon, 59 F.3d 14 815, 845 (9th Cir. 1995). “Absent prejudice, or a strong showing of any of the remaining … 15 factors, there exists a presumption under Rule 15(a) in favor of granting leave to amend.” 16 Eminence Capital, 316 F.3d at 1052 (emphasis in original). 17 In response to the motion, Defendant does not suggest Plaintiffs have acted in bad faith or 18 that it would be futile to grant leave to amend to include former Trahan class members. It does 19 argue that delay weighs against amendment. Plaintiffs filed their original complaint in May 2016, 20 and filed their First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) on July 12, 2016. Plaintiffs allege that the 21 statute of limitations on their claims has been tolled by the Duran litigation. (FAC ¶ 2.) They also 22 alleged that they “all worked at some time within 4 years of the filing of the Duran case up to the 23 time the Duran class definition was determined.” (Id.) Plaintiffs made no reference to the Trahan 24 litigation, although counsel for the Plaintiffs here also represented the plaintiff and the class 25 members in the Trahan case. 26 In addition, in a joint case management statement filed on September 30, 2016, Plaintiffs 27 identified themselves as a “subset for the former class members” of the Duran litigation. (Dkt. 28 No. 30, Joint Case Management Statement at 1:20-21.) Although Plaintiffs stated that they 3 1 intended to bring a motion to amend additional plaintiffs, they did not suggest they would seek to 2 include former members of the Trahan class and their original motion did not seek leave to 3 include any such individuals. 4 This Court decertified the Trahan class on January 6, 2015, and the class claims in that 5 case were dismissed without prejudice on July 1, 2015. (Dkt. No. 63, Defendant’s Request for 6 Judicial Notice, Exs. 2-3.)1 During that period, the proposed plaintiffs did not pursue their claims, 7 either individually or by way of a complaint akin to that filed in this case. Plaintiffs do not explain 8 this delay, other than to state “it was not until after” the Court granted the first motion for leave to 9 amend “on December 16, 2016 and before December 30, 2016, that Plaintiffs’ counsel was able to confirm with the eight former Trahan class members that they wished to [pursue] their claims 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 individually in the Alila-Katita case.” (Dkt. No. 64-1, Supplemental Declaration of Edward J. 12 Wynne, ¶ 2.) Counsel and these individuals have known of the facts that give rise to their claims 13 since the Trahan case was filed. They also have known since January 2015 that their claims 14 would not be pursued on a classwide basis. The Court finds that, as to the former Trahan class 15 members, the unexplained and unjustified delay weighs against granting leave to amend. Cf. 16 AmerisourceBergen Corp. v. Dialysist West, Inc., 465 F.3d 946, 953 (9th Cir. 2006) (noting that 17 court has held that “an eight month delay between the time of obtaining a relevant fact and seeking 18 a leave to amend is unreasonable”). 19 Because delay alone generally does not justify denying leave to amend, the Court 20 considers the potential prejudice to Defendant. See DCD Programs, 833 F.2d at 186. Defendant 21 argued it would suffer prejudice, because the Trahan cases involved claims not at issue in this 22 case. Plaintiffs have mooted that argument by representing that the former Trahan class members 23 will limit their claims to the UCL claim at issue here. Defendant also argues that the Trahan class period spanned a different time frame and, 24 25 26 27 28 1 Defendant asks the Court to take judicial notice of the First Amended Complaint in the Trahan case, the Order granting the motion to decertify the Trahan class, and the notice of voluntary dismissal filed in that case. Plaintiff does not oppose the request, and the Court may take judicial notice of those documents. Accordingly, the request is GRANTED. 4 1 thus, different policies are at issue as well and that additional witnesses will be required. 2 Defendant also argues it was not under a duty to preserve evidence related to the Trahan litigation, 3 but it has not specifically identified any evidence that may have been lost or identified witnesses 4 who might no longer be available. 5 In addition, this argument overlaps with Rule 20’s requirement that the newly proposed 6 plaintiffs’ claims arise out of the same transaction and occurrence as the current Plaintiffs’ claims. 7 “The first prong, the ‘same transaction’ requirement, refers to similarity in the factual background 8 of a claim.” Coughlin v. Rogers, 130 F.3d 1348, 1350 (9th Cir. 1997). Plaintiffs’ overarching 9 theory of this case remains that Defendant misclassified them as non-exempt employees. The 10 plaintiff in Trahan also premised his claim on that theory. United States District Court Northern District of California 11 When Defendant moved to relate this case to the Trahan case, it stated that the Plaintiffs in 12 this case worked for it between December 26, 1997 and July 2009. (See Trahan v. U.S. Bank., No. 13 09-cv-3111, Dkt. No. 202, Administrative Motion to Relate at 2:7-12.) Defendant also stated that 14 some of the Plaintiffs in this case “were also class members in Trahan.” (Id. at 3:8-9.) Defendant 15 summed up its motion by stated that “Trahan and Alila-Katita therefore concern substantially the 16 same parties, regarding the same position and same claim of alleged exempt misclassification.” 17 (Id. at 3:9-12.) The Court recognizes that Defendant made these statements in the context of a 18 motion to relate cases. However, none of the proposed plaintiffs who are former Trahan class 19 members worked for Defendant after June 30, 2009. Thus, their claims will overlap with the 20 claims of the existing Plaintiffs. (Wynne Decl., ¶ 3.) The Court concludes that the newly 21 proposed plaintiffs’ claims arise of out of the same transaction and occurrence as the current 22 Plaintiffs’ claims. For these same reasons, and for the reasons set forth in its Order granting 23 Plaintiffs’ first motion to amend, the Court also concludes Plaintiffs have shown that questions of 24 law or fact common to all plaintiffs will arise in the action. 25 The Court also must “examine whether permissive joinder would comport with the 26 principles of fundamental fairness or would result in prejudice to either side.” Coleman v. Quaker 27 Oats Co., 232 F.3d 1271, 1296 (9th Cir. 2000) (internal quotations and citations omitted). 28 Although there has been a greater delay in asserting the claims of the newly proposed Plaintiffs, 5 1 for the reasons set forth in the Court’s prior order, the Court fin that leav to amend should be r p nds ve 2 gra anted. 3 Defend has not articulated any prejudice it would su dant a e uffer from jo oinder of the new 4 pla aintiffs, and the Court ha not found any given th existing o t as he overlap in the time period involved. e ds 5 Alt though Plain ntiffs have no explained the delay, th ot d here is no su uggestion tha they are a at acting in bad 6 fait and this case is in the early phase of litigatio The new proposed plaintiffs also are th, c e es on. wly d 7 BB and, alth BOs hough they may be form members of the Traha class, the is some r m mer an ere relationship 8 bet tween them and the exist a ting parties. Further, the would no be any im ere ot mpact on the C Court’s 9 jurisdiction if it were to all the amen i low ndment. 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 12 13 14 15 Accord dingly, the Court GRANT Plaintiff’ motion for leave to am TS ’s r mend, but it w not will con nsider any fu urther motion to add Pla ns aintiffs to th case. his IT IS SO ORDER S RED. Da ated: January 23, 2017 y ___ __________ ___________ __________ ________ JEF FFREY S. W WHITE Un nited States D District Judg ge 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 6