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Wells v. Skynet Digital, LLC

United States District Court, D. Idaho

July 13, 2015

SHAWNA WELLS, Plaintiff,
v.
SKYNET DIGITAL, LLC, an Idaho limited liability company, d/b/a MEDICAL SPECIALTIES OF IDAHO; and AARON J. ALTENBURG, M.D., individually, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

B. LYNN WINMILL, Chief District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

Before the Court is Plaintiff Shawna Wells' Amended Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint (Dkt.21). For the reasons explained below, the Court will grant the motion.

BACKGROUND

Wells filed a complaint against Defendants Skynet Digital, LLC ("Skynet") and Aaron J. Altenburg, M.D. ("Altenburg") on October 22, 2014 (Dkt.1). The complaint alleged a variety of claims related to Wells's dismissal from Skynet.

During initial disclosures, Wells learned of additional facts and sought to amend her complaint. Defendants would not agree to the proposed amended complaint, so Wells filed her first motion to amend on January 22, 2015.

Defendant Altenburg filed a response to that motion, attaching declarations which contained yet more information not known to Wells. This included statements and documents pertaining to the employment relationship between Skynet, Altenburg, and Aaron J. Altenburg, M.D., P.C. ("Altenburg PC"). Wells therefore withdrew her original motion to amend and filed the pending second motion to amend on February 27, 2015 (Dkt. 16). Defendant Altenburg opposes the motion.

Alternburg has also filed a motion to dismiss Count Six (Dkt. 9). The pending motion to amend removes Count Six from the complaint. Therefore, by granting the motion to amend as explained below, the motion to dismiss is rendered moot.

LEGAL STANDARD

Generally, leave to amend a pleading "shall be freely given when justice so requires." Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a). Leave to amend lies within the sound discretion of the trial court, which "must be guided by the underlying purpose of Rule 15 to facilitate decisions on the merits, rather than on the pleadings or technicalities." United States v. Webb, 655 F.2d 977, 979 (9th Cir.1981). Thus, Rule 15's policy of favoring amendments to pleadings should be applied with "extreme liberality." Id. (citation omitted); see Ascon Properties, Inc. v. Mobil Oil Co., 866 F.2d 1149, 1160 (9th Cir.1989).

The United States Supreme Court has identified four factors relevant to whether a motion for leave to amend should be denied: undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive, futility of amendment, and prejudice to the opposing party. Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182, 83 S.Ct. 227, 230, 9 L.Ed.2d 222 (1962). The Ninth Circuit holds that these factors are not of equal weight; specifically, "delay alone no matter how lengthy is an insufficient ground for denial of leave to amend." Webb, 655 F.2d at 980; accord Bowles v. Reade, 198 F.3d 752, 758 (9th Cir.1999). The most important factor is whether amendment would prejudice the opposing party. Howey v. United States, 481 F.2d 1187, 1190 (9th Cir.1973). But futility of amendment can, by itself, justify denial of a motion for leave to amend. Bonin v. Calderon, 59 F.3d 815, 845 (9th Cir.1995). A proposed amended pleading is futile "only if no set of facts can be proved under the amendment to the pleadings that would constitute a valid and sufficient claim or defense." Miller v. RykoffSexton, Inc., 845 F.2d 209, 214 (9th Cir.1988).

ANALYSIS

1. Motion to Amend

Three of the factors the Court must address when considering whether to allow amendment - undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive, and prejudice to the opposing party - are of little significance here. Accordingly, the Court will address those three factors in short order. The Court will then address the fourth factor - ...


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