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Engstrom v. Wells

United States District Court, D. Idaho

September 25, 2018

SHARI ENGSTROM and DAVE ENGSTROM, wife and husband and their marital community comprised thereof, Plaintiffs,
v.
JOHN WELLS, individually and as guardian of L.W., a minor, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          EDWARD J. LODGE JUDGE.

         INTRODUCTION

         Before the Court in the above entitled matter are the Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment and Plaintiffs' Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint. (Dkt. 18, 19.) The Motions are ripe for the Court's consideration. 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, the Motions are decided based on the record.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         This case arises out of events occurring on February 5, 2016 on the Lower College ski run at Baldy Mountain in the Sun Valley Ski Resort in Idaho. The ski run is designated as a “slow skiing” area and is posted as a “Family Zone.” On that day, Plaintiff Shari Engstrom alleges she was injured when she was struck by L.W., a minor, who was traveling at a “high rate of speed.” (Dkt. 1.) The Complaint further alleges that L.W.'s father, John Wells, also skied by Ms. Engstrom “moving at a high rate of speed.” (Dkt. 1.) As a result, Ms. Engstrom and her husband, Plaintiff Dave Engstrom, filed the Complaint in this case raising a negligence claim purportedly against both L.W. and John Wells.

         The parties have filed the instant Motion for Summary Judgment and Motion to File an Amended Complaint. (Dkt. 18, 19.) For the reasons stated below, the Court grants Plaintiffs leave to amend and denies Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment.

         STANDARDS OF LAW

         1. Amendment of Pleadings

         Rule 15 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that leave to amend “shall be freely given when justice so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a). Indeed, while the decision to grant leave to amend is within the Court's discretion, the Court “must be guided by the underlying purpose of Rule 15 to facilitate decision on the merits rather than on the pleadings or technicalities.” United States v. Webb, 655 F.2d 977, 979 (9th Cir. 1981). This “policy of favoring amendments to pleadings should be applied with extreme liberality.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted); see also Eminence Capital, LLC v. Aspeon, Inc., 316 F.3d 1048, 1051 (9th Cir. 2003) (Courts apply Rule 15 with “extreme liberality.”).

         In determining whether a motion to amend should be granted, the court generally considers five factors: (1) undue delay; (2) bad faith; (3) futility of amendment; (4) prejudice to the opposing party; and (5) whether the plaintiff has previously amended the complaint. United States v. Corinthian Colls., 655 F.3d 984, 995 (9th Cir. 2011) (citation omitted). These factors are not weighted equally: “futility of amendment alone can justify the denial of a motion” to amend. Ahlmeyer v. Nev. Sys. of Higher Educ., 555 F .3d 1051, 1055 (9th Cir. 2009). “Generally, this determination should be performed with all inferences in favor of granting the motion.” Griggs v. Pace Am. Group, Inc., 170 F.3d 877, 880 (9th Cir. 1999) (citing DCD Programs, Ltd. v. Leighton, 833 F.2d 183, 186 (9th Cir. 1987)).

         2. Relation Back

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(c)(1)(C) provides the federal standard for whether a pleading relates back to the date of the initial pleading. Butler v. Nat. Community Renaissance of Cal., 766 F.3d 1191, 1202-03 (9th Cir. 2014); (citing Krupski v. Costa Crociere S.P.A., 560 U.S. 538, 541 (2010) (“Rule 15(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs when an amended pleading ‘relates back' to the date of a timely filed original pleading and is thus itself timely even though it was filed outside an applicable statute of limitations.”). Rule 15(c)(1) provides:

(1) When an Amendment Relates Back. An amendment to a pleading relates back to the date of the ...

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