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Sackett v. United States Environmental Protection Agency

United States District Court, D. Idaho

April 21, 2015

MICHAEL and CHANTELL SACKETT, Plaintiffs,
v.
UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY, et al., Defendant.

MEMORANDUM ORDER

EDWARD J. LODGE, District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

Pending before the Court in the above entitled matter are Plaintiffs' Motion to Strike Administrative Record and Motion to Supplement the Pleading. (Dkt. 70, 88.) Defendants have filed a Motion to File a Surreply to the Motion to Strike. (Dkt. 85.) The parties have filed their responsive briefing and the matters are ripe for the Court's consideration. Having fully reviewed the record herein, the Court finds that the facts and legal arguments are adequately presented in the briefs and record. Accordingly, in the interest of avoiding further delay, and because the Court conclusively finds that the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument, this motion shall be decided on the record before this Court without oral argument.

DISCUSSION

1) Motion to Supplement the Pleading

Plaintiffs filed their initial Complaint in this matter on April 28, 2008 seeking declaratory and injunctive relief under the Clean Water Act (CWA), 33 U.S.C. § 1251, et seq., and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. § 551, et seq. Their claims arise as a result of the Defendants' issuance of compliance orders, and amendments to those orders, determining that Plaintiffs' property is subject to the CWA and that Plaintiffs have illegally placed fill material on their property. The compliance orders direct Plaintiffs to remove the fill material and conduct other restoration measures.

The Court previously granted the Defendants' Motion to Dismiss concluding that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the claims. (Dkt. 21.) Plaintiffs appealed that decision. (Dkt. 29.) The Ninth Circuit reversed the decision and remanded the case for further proceedings. (Dkt. 48, 49.) Thereafter the case was stayed at the request of the parties so that they could attempt settlement negotiations. (Dkt. 55, 57.) Those negotiations proved to be unsuccessful and the case was reopened and a scheduling order was entered. (Dkt. 61.)

Plaintiffs have filed the Motion to Supplement the Complaint seeking to add new occurrences and/or events to the pleadings reflecting amendments made to the compliance order. (Dkt. 88.) Because these events occurred after they filed their Complaint, Plaintiffs point out that they were not plead in the Complaint but are related. Therefore, they seek to now supplement their Complaint to reflect these new occurrences pursuant to Rule 15(d). (Dkt. 88.)

Defendants do not object to the supplementation as to the additional facts asserted in paragraphs 31-37 of the proposed supplemental complaint. (Dkt. 90.) These paragraphs, Defendants agree, set forth events that occurred subsequent to the filing of the original Complaint. As to the remainder of the proposed paragraphs, however, Defendants object to their supplementation arguing they do not supplement but, instead, appear to seek to amend the original complaint. Plaintiffs maintain that the material outside of paragraphs 31-37 of the proposed supplemental complaint contain statements of law and/or allegations of fact already found in the original complaint which are both proper. (Dkt. 91.)

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(d) states:

On motion and reasonable notice, the court may, on just terms, permit a party to serve a supplemental pleading setting out any transaction, occurrence, or event that happened after the date of the pleading to be supplemented. The court may permit supplementation even though the original pleading is defective in stating a claim or defense. The court may order that the opposing party plead to the supplemental pleading within a specified time.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(d). A supplemental pleading is used to allege relevant facts which occurred after an operative pleading was filed. See Keith v. Volpe, 858 F.2d 467 (9th Cir. 1988). "The purpose of Rule 15(d) is to promote as complete an adjudication of the dispute between the parties as possible by allowing the addition of claims which arise after the initial pleadings are filed." William Inglis & Sons Baking Co. v. ITT Cont'l Baking Co., 668 F.2d 1014, 1057 (9th Cir. 1981). To that end, courts "liberally construe Rule 15(d) absent a showing of prejudice to the defendant." Keith, 858 F.2d at 475. Whether to allow a supplemental pleading is committed to the "sound discretion" of the district court. Zenith Radio Corp. v. Hazeltine Research, Inc., 401 U.S. 321, 331 (1971). District courts have broad discretion under Rule 15(d) in determining whether to permit a supplemental complaint. Keith, 858 F.2d at 473.

The same factors relevant to a Rule 15(a) motion for leave to amend the complaint-undue delay, prejudice, bad faith, and futility-are generally the same as those factors considered in a Rule 15(d) motion to supplement. Yates v. Auto City 76, 299 F.R.D. 611, 614 (N.D. Cal. 2013); see also Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962). However, "some relationship must exist between the newly alleged matters and the subject of the original action, [but] they need not all arise out of the same transaction." Keith, 858 F.2d at 474. A supplemental pleading cannot "be used to introduce a separate, distinct and new cause of action, '" Planned Parenthood of Southern Arizona v. Neely, 130 F.3d 400, 402 (9th Cir. 1997), quoting Berssenbrugge v. Luce Mfg. Co., 30 F.Supp. 101, 102 (D.Mo. 1939); see also, 6A Charles Alan Wright, Arthur R. Miller, & Mary Kay Kane, Federal Practice and Procedure: Civil 2D § 1509 (1990) (noting that leave to file a supplemental pleading will be denied where "the supplemental pleading could be the subject of a separate action").

Here, the Court finds the relevant factors weigh in favor of allowing the supplemental pleading. Judicial efficiency favors having all possible claims and allegations to be made and decided so as to fully resolve the dispute between these parties. The proposed supplemental pleading, in large part, adds events occurring after the date of the original Complaint which relate to the claims raised therein. In particular, facts surrounding the amended compliance order to which Defendants do not object. The other differences between the two pleadings do not appear to significantly alter the claims or allegations.[1] Further, the proposed supplemental complaint discusses only the APA claim challenging the determination that the property is subject to the CWA. (Dkt. 88.) The original complaint contained additional claims alleging constitutional violations which claims Plaintiffs are presumably still pursuing. (Dkt. 1.)[2] Moreover, the Court finds that the proposed supplemental complaint has "some relation" to the claims set forth in the original Complaint. Finally, the Court finds that given ...


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