Sampson v. Knight Transportation, Inc, No. 2:2017cv00028 - Document 37 (W.D. Wash. 2017)
Court Description: ORDER granting Plaintiff's 29 Motion for Leave to File Amended Class Action Complaint for Damages. Plaintiff shall file her amended class action complaint within 14 days of this order. Signed by U.S. District Judge John C Coughenour. (TH)
Sampson v. Knight Transportation, Inc Doc. 37 THE HONORABLE JOHN C. COUGHENOUR 1 2 3 4 5 6 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT WESTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON AT SEATTLE 7 8 9 VALERIE SAMPSON, on behalf of herself and on the behalf of all others similarly situated, 10 11 CASE NO. C17-0028-JCC ORDER Plaintiff, v. 12 13 KNIGHT TRANSPORTATION, INC., 14 Defendant. 15 16 This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff’s motion for leave to amend her class 17 action complaint (Dkt. No. 29). Having thoroughly considered the parties’ briefing and the 18 relevant record, the Court finds oral argument unnecessary and hereby GRANTS the motion for 19 the reasons explained herein. 20 I. BACKGROUND 21 Plaintiff, Valerie Sampson (“Sampson”), worked as a truck driver for Defendant, Knight 22 Transportation, Inc., (“Knight”) from May 2015 to January 2016. (Dkt. No. 29 at 5.) During her 23 employment, Sampson alleges Knight did not comply with wage and hour laws that applied to its 24 employees residing in Washington. (Id.) On October 14, 2016, Sampson filed a class action 25 lawsuit against Knight on behalf of “[a]ll current and former driver employees of Knight 26 Transportation, Inc. who at any time from July 1, 2013 through the date of final disposition, ORDER PAGE - 1 Dockets.Justia.com 1 worked as drivers for the company while residing in the State of Washington.” (Dkt. No. 5.) 1 2 Sampson claims, among other things, that Knight failed to pay its drivers minimum wage, failed 3 to pay for rest periods, made unlawful payroll deductions and did not keep accurate time records 4 for the hours worked by its drivers. (Id. at 11.) 5 At a status conference on February 22, 2017, the Court ordered the parties to provide a 6 proposed schedule for class certification briefing. (Dkt. No. 11.) The parties initially agreed that 7 briefing would be completed on September 8, 2017. (Dkt. No. 12.) On June 29, 2017, the parties 8 stipulated to an extension of the class certification briefing deadline to October 23, 2017. (Dkt. 9 No. 21.) The Court has not set a discovery cutoff date or a deadline for filing amended pleadings. 10 On August 2, 2017, Sampson conducted a deposition of Knight’s Chief Operations 11 Officer, Kevin Quast (“Quast”). (Dkt. No. 30 at 25.) During the deposition, Quast stated that 12 Knight employs and oversees truck drivers who reside in Washington under three different 13 “business lines:” Knight Dry Van (“Dry Van”); Knight Port Services (“Port Services”); and 14 Knight Refrigerated (“Refrigerated”). (Dkt. No. 30 at 20–21.) 2 Sampson worked for only the Dry 15 Van business. (Dkt. No. 33 at 9.) 16 Quast stated that the different business lines are part of one corporate structure that is 17 headed by the same executive officers. (Dkt. No. 30 at 25–26.) Beneath the corporate executive 18 level, the entities have different management structures. (Id. at 29.) The businesses all share the 19 same payroll department and payroll processing system. (Id. at 26–27.) Quast testified that the 20 rate of pay for drivers in the three businesses is essentially the same. (Id. at 27.) 21 After learning that Port Services and Refrigerated were separate entities from Knight, 22 each of which employed truck drivers residing in Washington, Sampson’s counsel interviewed 23 David Raymond (“Raymond”), a truck driver formerly employed by Port Services and 24 25 1 Knight removed the case to this Court on January 6, 2017. (Dkt. No. 1.) 2 26 Knight Refrigerated, LLC and Knight Port Services, LLC are subsidiaries of Knight Transportation, Inc. (Dkt. No. 33 at 4.) ORDER PAGE - 2 1 Refrigerated. (Dkt. No. 29 at 8; Dkt. No. 30 at 7.) On August 18, 2017, Sampson filed a motion 2 asking the Court for leave to amend her complaint in order to add Raymond as an additional 3 class representative as well as Refrigerated and Port Services as defendants. (Dkt. No. 30 6–7.) 4 In the proposed amended complaint, Raymond alleges the same claims against Refrigerated and 5 Port Services as Sampson initially brought against Knight (Id. at 11–14.) The Parties have since 6 stipulated to an extension of the class certification briefing deadline to February 16, 2018. (Dkt. 7 No. 31.) 8 II. 9 DISCUSSION A. Legal Standard for Motion to Amend 10 The district court is afforded discretion to grant leave to amend and “[t]he court should 11 freely give leave when justice so requires.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2). The generosity in granting 12 leave to amend is “to be applied with extreme liberality.” Eminence Capital, LLC v. Aspeon, 13 Inc., 316 F.3d 1048, 1051–52 (9th Cir. 2003). Courts are to consider five factors in granting 14 leave to amend: (1) bad faith, (2) undue delay, (3) prejudice to the opposing party, (4) futility of 15 amendment, and (5) whether the pleading has previously been amended. See, e.g. United States 16 v. Corinthian Colleges, 655 F.3d 984, 995 (9th Cir. 2011). If an untimely motion to amend 17 would require modification of a pretrial scheduling order, however, the stricter standards of 18 Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16 (“Rule 16”) require the moving party to demonstrate “good 19 cause.” Johnson v. Mammoth Recreations, 975 F.2d 604, 607–608 (9th Cir. 1992). 20 B. Sampson’s Motion to Amend 21 As an initial matter, Sampson need not demonstrate good cause under Rule 16 because 22 her request to amend is timely. (Dkt. No. 12.) The Court set class certification briefing deadlines 23 but did not set a date by which amended pleadings had to be filed. (Id.) Since her motion does 24 not violate the scheduling order, the Court need only consider the five factors that apply to 25 granting amendments under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15 (“Rule 15’). 26 Sampson’s amendment is appropriate under Rule 15’s “when justice so requires” ORDER PAGE - 3 1 standard. F. R. Civ. P. 15(a). First, there is no suggestion in the record that Sampson makes her 2 amendment in bad faith, that Raymond’s claims, if added, would be futile, or that Sampson has 3 previously amended her complaint. Second, the Court does not believe Sampson’s motion was 4 made after undue delay. 5 When Sampson deposed Quast on August 2, 2017, she learned of the facts that led to this 6 motion: Port Services and Refrigerated were part of the same corporate structure as Knight, each 7 entity employed truck drivers in Washington, and all of the entities used the same payroll 8 system. (See Dkt. No. 29, 6–7.) Within weeks of learning that information, Sampson’s counsel 9 identified Raymond as a class representative and moved to amend. (Id. at 8.) 10 Knight suggests that Sampson’s counsel knew about this information based on their 11 participation in a similar lawsuit against the company in 2012. (Dkt. No. 33 at 5.) The Court does 12 not think the record establishes that Sampson was aware of all the facts about Refrigerated and 13 Port Services that link them to the present class action lawsuit. Moreover, the speed with which 14 Sampson made her motion after deposing Quast demonstrates that she was unaware of the 15 information. (Dkt. No. 29 at 8.) The Court does not find a basis for undue delay. 16 Nor does the Court believe that Knight will be unduly prejudiced by the amendment. A 17 plaintiff’s amended complaint can cause prejudice where it delays the proceeding and causes 18 additional discovery. See Lockheed Martin Corp. v. Network Solutions, Inc., 194 F.3d 980, 986 19 (9th Cir.1999). Since this case has been pending, the parties have twice stipulated to extensions 20 of the class certification briefings—the most recent of which set the deadline as February 16, 21 2018. (Dkt. No. 31.) While Knight states that adding Refrigerated and Port Services will lead to 22 some additional discovery, it does not suggest that this discovery would be especially costly or 23 drawn-out. (See Dkt. No. 33 at 9.) This is particularly true given that the discovery deadline has 24 not passed and class certification briefing is not due until February 2018. (Dkt. No. 32.) 25 26 In granting the amendment, the Court is also guided by the mandate that the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure be construed “to secure the just, speedy and inexpensive determination ORDER PAGE - 4 1 of every action and proceeding.” F. R. Civ. P. 1. In opposing the amendment, Knight 2 acknowledges that Raymond could bring a separate class action against Refrigerated and Port 3 Services, and eventually seek to consolidate his lawsuit with Sampson’s. (Dkt. No. 33 at 6.) Such 4 a result, given the close relationship between the parties and claims, would produce the exact 5 opposite of a “just, speedy and inexpensive” resolution of this class action lawsuit. 6 In its response, Knight argues that Sampson’s amended complaint should be 7 characterized as a request to join parties under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 20 (“Rule 20”), 8 and that Sampson has not met the standard for permissively joining Raymond, Refrigerated and 9 Port Services. (Dkt. No. 33 at 6.) The Court disagrees with Knight’s position for two reasons. 10 First, the Rule 15 amendment standard is not, as Knight implies, subordinated to the 11 permissive joinder requirements of Rule 20. In granting leave to amend, courts can allow for the 12 joinder of parties. See e.g., Nelson v. Adams USA, Inc., 529 U.S. 460, 466, (2000) (discussing the 13 requirements for adding an adverse party as part of an amended pleading under Rule 15(a)); 14 Union Pac. R. Co. v. Nev. Power Co., 950 F.2d 1429, 1432 (9th Cir.1991) (“Amendments 15 seeking to add claims are to be granted more freely than amendments adding parties.”) 16 Therefore, Sampson’s motion to amend is properly analyzed under the Rule 15 standard as 17 discussed above. 18 Second, even if the Court applied the Rule 20 standard, it would be proper to join 19 Raymond, Refrigerated, and Port Services to Sampson’s class action lawsuit. Rule 20(a)(2) 20 allows a plaintiff to join defendants in one action if “(A) any right to relief is asserted against 21 them jointly, severally, or in the alternative with respect to or arising out of the same transaction, 22 occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences; and (B) any question of law or fact common 23 to all defendants will arise in the action.” Rule 20(a)(1) allows plaintiffs to join in one action if 24 “(A) they assert any right to relief jointly, severally, or in the alternative with respect to or 25 arising out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences; and (B) 26 any question of law or fact common to all defendants will arise in the action.” ORDER PAGE - 5 1 The Ninth Circuit has stated that Rule 20 “permits the joinder of plaintiffs in one action 2 if: (1) the plaintiffs assert any right to relief arising out of the same transaction, occurrence, or 3 series of transactions or occurrences; and (2) there are common questions of law or fact.” 4 Coughlin v. Rogers, 130 F.3d 1348, 1350 (9th Cir. 1997). Rule 20 “is to be construed liberally in 5 order to promote trial convenience and to expedite the final determination of disputes, thereby 6 preventing multiple lawsuits.” League to Save Lake Tahoe v. Tahoe Reg. Planning Agency, 558 7 F.2d 914, 917 (9th Cir. 1972). 8 9 Here, the joinder of Raymond, Refrigerated, and Port Services meet both prongs of the Rule 20 test. The same transaction or occurrence prong “requires factual similarity in the 10 allegations supporting [p]laintiffs’ claims.” Visendi v. Bank of Am., N.A., 733 F.3d 863, 870 (9th 11 Cir. 2013). Sampson and Raymond assert the exact same claims against Knight, Refrigerated and 12 Port Services for alleged improper wage and hour practices conducted by all three entities. (Dkt. 13 No. 30 at 11.) They allege, among other things, that all three defendants have made improper 14 payroll deductions and failed to track the hours of their Washington-based drivers. (Id.) All three 15 defendants use the same payroll department and payroll processing system. (Id. at 26–27.) Given 16 this factual overlap, both plaintiff’s claims arise out of the same transaction or occurrence. 17 Similarly, Sampson and Raymond’s claims raise common questions of fact or law. To 18 resolve their claims, both Sampson and Raymond would have to establish that Knight, 19 Refrigerated, and Port Services were using unlawful pay practices and failing to follow several 20 Washington employment regulations. (Dkt. No. 30 at 9.) Since the plaintiff’s claims are 21 identical, they necessarily turn on the same questions of law that would determine the 22 defendant’s liability. (Id. at 11–14.) 23 24 For these reasons, Sampson’s motion to amend is appropriate whether tested under the Rule 15 standard or the Rule 20 standard. Therefore, Sampson’s motion to amend is GRANTED. 25 C. 26 Sampson asks that Raymond’s claims against Refrigerated and Port Services relate back ORDER PAGE - 6 Relation Back 1 to the date the initial class action lawsuit was filed. Pertinent to Sampson’s claim, Rule 2 15(c)(1)(C), allows an amendment to a pleading to relate back to the date of the original pleading 3 when: 4 5 6 the amendment changes the party or the naming of the party against whom a claim is asserted . . . [and] the party to be brought in by amendment: (i) received such notice of the action that it will not be prejudiced in defending on the merits; and (ii) knew or should have known that the action would have been brought against it, but for a mistake concern the proper party’s identity. 7 F. R. Civ. P. 15(c)(1)(C). The Supreme Court has held that, “relation back under Rule 8 15(c)(1)(C) depends on what the party to be added knew or should have known, not on the 9 amending party's knowledge or its timeliness in seeking to amend the pleading.” Krupski v. 10 11 Costa Crociere S. p. A., 560 U.S. 538, 541 (2010). The pertinent question to determine whether Raymond’s claim relates back is whether 12 Refrigerated and Port Services were on notice that Sampson had filed her class action complaint, 13 and knew or should have known that Raymond could have brought his claims against them as 14 part of Sampson’s lawsuit. The Court answers the question in the affirmative. 15 Sampson filed her class action complaint on October 14, 2016, on behalf of “[a]ll current 16 and former driver employees of Knight Transportation, Inc. who at any time from July 1, 2013 17 through the date of final disposition, worked as drivers for the company while residing in the 18 State of Washington.” (Dkt. No. 5.) Sampson alleges, among other things, that Knight failed to 19 pay its drivers minimum wage, failed to pay for rest periods, made unlawful payroll deductions, 20 and did not keep accurate time logs for the hours worked by its drivers. (Id. at 11.) 21 Quast—who is the Chief Operations Officer of Knight as well as Refrigerated and Port 22 Services—was aware of Sampson’s class action complaint at the time it was filed. (See Dkt. No. 23 3.) (Quast’s declaration in support of removal.) Quast knew that Refrigerated and Port Services 24 employed truck drivers who resided in Washington. (Dkt. No. 30 at 21.) Quast knew that Knight 25 shared a corporate structure with Refrigerated and Port Services, and that all three entities used 26 the same payroll system. (Id. at 25–26.) In other words, when Sampson filed her complaint, the ORDER PAGE - 7 1 Chief Operations Officer for Refrigerated and Port Services knew or should have known that 2 some of its employees could have been part of the class represented by Sampson. Given Quast’s 3 awareness of Sampson’s lawsuit, the Court does not see how Refrigerated or Port Services would 4 be prejudiced by having to now defend against the identical claims brought by Raymond. 5 Accordingly, the Court finds that Raymond’s claims relate back to the date that 6 Sampson’s complaint was initially filed. 7 III. CONCLUSION 8 For the foregoing reasons, Plaintiff’s motion for leave to amend her class action 9 complaint (Dkt. No. 22) is GRANTED. Plaintiff shall file her amended class action complaint 10 within 14 days of this order. 11 12 DATED this 19th day of September, 2017. 15 A 16 John C. Coughenour UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 13 14 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 ORDER PAGE - 8
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