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Cryer v. Idaho Department of Labor

United States District Court, D. Idaho

July 30, 2018

JAMES CRYER, Plaintiff,
IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, et al., Defendants.


          B. Lynn Winmill, Chief U.S. District Court Judge.


         Pending before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion to File Second Amended Complaint (Dkt. 67). For the reasons discussed below, the Court will deny the Motion.


         Plaintiff timely filed a complaint in this Court on December 7, 2016. Plaintiff alleged, inter alia, that Defendants violated his Fourth Amendment rights by subpoenaing Verizon for information related to his IP address and cell phone number. The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment, and the Court heard oral argument on May 25, 2018. At the hearing, the Court granted Defendants' motion as to Plaintiff's claim under the Fourth Amendment.[1] The Court granted Plaintiff leave, however, to file a motion to add a claim based on the same facts under Article I, Section 17 of the Idaho Constitution. On June 5, 2018, Plaintiff timely filed his motion to amend. The parties completed briefing on the motion on June 15, 2018, and the Court finds the matter appropriate for resolution without a hearing.


         Motions to amend a pleading filed after the scheduling order deadline has expired are governed not by the liberal provisions of Rule 15(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure but by the more restrictive provisions of Rule 16(b) requiring a showing of “good cause.” Johnson v. Mammoth Recreations, Inc., 975 F.2d 604 (9th Cir. 1992).[2] The focus of Rule 16(b)'s good cause standard is the diligence of the moving party. Id. at 608. A court should find good cause only if the moving party shows it “could not reasonably meet the established timeline in a scheduling order despite [its] diligence.” DIRECTV, Inc. v. Busdon, No. CV-04-265-S-LMB, 2005 WL 1364571, *1 (D. Idaho June 8, 2005). “Moreover, carelessness is not compatible with a finding of diligence and offers no reason for a grant of relief.” Johnson, 975 F.2d at 609 (citing Engleson v. Burlington Northern R.R. Co., 972 F.2d 1038, 1043 (9th Cir.1992)).

         When determining whether to grant a motion to amend outside the deadline imposed in the scheduling order, a court may also consider “the existence or degree of prejudice to the party opposing the modification” Id. But, while a court is allowed to consider any prejudice that may occur, the court should focus its inquiry “upon the moving party's reasons for seeking modification.” Id. If the party moving to amend “was not diligent, the inquiry should end.” Id.


         Plaintiff argues that he was unable to bring a claim under the Idaho Constitution in his original complaint because the Idaho Supreme Court only recently recognized a private right of action for litigants suing the state for constitutional violations, citing Tucker v. State, 394 P.3d 54 (Idaho 2017). Tucker was published on April 28, 2017. The deadline to amend pleadings in this action was May 26, 2017. Joint Litigation Plan at 2, Dkt. 12. The record shows, however, that Plaintiff waited nearly a year after the deadline to amend passed, and over a year after Tucker was issued, to bring his motion to add a claim under the state constitution. Even assuming arguendo that the right of action announced in Tucker provides grounds for Plaintiff to assert his claim, Plaintiff has not shown that he acted diligently in bringing this motion. Further, allowing Plaintiff to amend his complaint at this late date would prejudice the Defendant. Plaintiff has therefore failed to establish good cause, and the Court shall deny his motion.

         Plaintiff explains that he did not raise a state constitutional claim in his original complaint, filed before Tucker was published, due to “the consistent reluctance [of this Court]-in the absence of a state appellate court decision on the subject-to recognize a private right of action to vindicate state constitutional claims.” Pl's Br. at 3-4, Dkt. 67-1. He argues, however, that Tucker created private right of action under the Idaho Constitution, and therefore his state constitutional claim is now valid. While this could explain why Plaintiff did not include the claim in his Complaint, it does not explain why he waited over a year after Tucker was issued, and nearly a year after the amendment deadline passed, to bring this motion to amend.

         Plaintiffs should not be punished for failing to plead a claim that is foreclosed by law at the time their complaint is filed. Indeed, such decisions are in line with the prescription in Rule 1 that litigation be conducted in such a manner as to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of the action. Fed.R.Civ.P. 1. Rule 16(b) clearly contemplates that changes in law or newly discovered evidence may justify later amendments to a complaint. That justification erodes, however, when a Plaintiff delays amending his complaint beyond the time he could have discovered the grounds for amendment through the exercise of reasonable diligence.

         The typical reason for granting leave to amend is that a party learns of information leading to the amendment that it could not have learned before the amendment deadline. For example, this Court has granted leave to amend under Rule 16(b) when “amendments could not have been filed earlier because they reflect information that plaintiff obtained from depositions that it conducted ‘up until the discovery cutoff date.'” Gambrel v. Twin Falls Cty., No. CIV. 1:12-369 WBS, 2014 WL 1612677, at *1 (D. Idaho Apr. 22, 2014) (noting that this is a “textbook example” of good cause). Similarly, it has found good cause existed when defendants did not produce evidence in their initial disclosures, which served as the basis for amending plaintiff's complaint, despite plaintiff's effort to obtain it beforehand. Hollist v. Madison Cty., No. 4:13-CV-00139-BLW, 2013 WL 5935209, at *1 (D. Idaho Nov. 1, 2013). This Court has also granted leave to amend where a pro se plaintiff misunderstood the scheduling order but diligently sought to leave to amend after discovering he had made certain mistakes in his original complaint. Mortensen v. HSBC Bank USA, No. CV 10-234-S-EJL, 2011 WL 13133843, at *2 (D. Idaho Aug. 1, 2011). Here, however, Plaintiff is not pro se, and there is no evidence that he misunderstood the deadline, or that Defendants withheld evidence or otherwise acted to prevent Plaintiff acting to amend his complaint. Nor does Plaintiff allege that he could not have learned of the grounds for adding a state law claim before the deadline.

         Instead, Plaintiff simply argues that his counsel did not learn about Tucker and its significance for Plaintiff's privacy claims until briefing on summary judgment, and thus any delay should be excused.[3] The length of time between the deadline to amend, the discovery of key information, and the date that a party files a motion to amend is relevant to establishing good cause. See, e.g., Hollist, No. 4:13-CV-00139-BLW, 2013 WL 5935209, at *1 (finding good cause existed where plaintiff obtained relevant evidence a few days after the deadline to amend and filed a motion to amend less than a week after the deadline). Plaintiff does not argue, however, that his counsel could not reasonably be expected to learn about Tucker until briefing on summary judgment. Nor does it appear that Plaintiff sought leave to amend immediately upon discovering the change in law. Instead, the ...

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