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Engstrom v. Wells

United States District Court, D. Idaho

May 28, 2019

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, and L.W., a minor, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          Honorable Edward J. Lodge, U.S. District Judge.

         INTRODUCTION

         Before the Court in the above entitled matter is Defendants' Motion to Modify the Amended Case Management Order, for Rule 41(b) Involuntary Dismissal, and/or Rule 60(b) Relief from the Court's September 25, 2018 Order. (Dkt. 27.) The Motion is 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 Motion is 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 Plaintiffs further allege 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 negligence claims against both L.W. and John Wells. (Dkt. 1.)

         On September 25, 2018, the Court denied Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment and granted Plaintiffs leave to amend the Complaint to clarify that L.W. is a named Defendant and that negligence claims were brought against both L.W. and John Wells, individually. (Dkt. 23.) Plaintiffs filed their Amended Complaint and Defendants have Answered. (Dkt. 24, 25.) On November 30, 2018, Defendants filed the instant Motion which the Court takes up herein. (Dkt 27.)

         DISCUSSION

         1. Modification of the Case Management Order

         Defendants have moved to modify the Amended Case Management Order and/or for reconsideration of the September 25, 2018 Order, asking the Court to consider this Motion and to dismiss the negligence claim made against John Wells in the Amended Complaint. (Dkt. 27.)

         Amendments to the Case Management Order are governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16(b) requiring a showing of “good cause.” (Dkt. 17 at 2, n. 2.) Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) provides that the Court may reconsider any order upon a “motion and just terms” where one of the following reasons is shown: “(1) mistake, surprise, or excusable neglect; (2) newly discovered evidence; (3) fraud; (4) a void judgment; (5) a satisfied or discharged judgment; or (6) extraordinary circumstances which would justify relief.” School Dist. No. 1J, 5 F.3d at 1263. Under Rule 60(b)(6), the so-called “catch-all” provision, the party seeking relief “must demonstrate both injury and circumstances beyond [their] control that prevented [them] from proceeding with the action in a proper fashion.” Latshaw v. Trainer Wortham & Co., Inc., 452 F.3d 1097, 1103 (9th Cir. 2006).

         The Amended Case Management Order was entered on April 12, 2018 and set the dispositive motion deadline for November 30, 2018. (Dkt. 17.) Defendants filed their initial Motion for Summary Judgment on June 11, 2018 which the Court denied. (Dkt. 18, 23.) The Amended Case Management Order states that the Court's policy is to accept only one motion to dismiss and one summary judgment motion per party. (Dkt. 17 at 1, n. 1.)

         Because Defendants have already filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, they now seek relief from the Amended Case Management Order's policy and ask the Court to consider this second dispositive motion requesting dismissal of the negligence claim against John Wells. (Dkt. 17, 18, 23, 27, 29.) Defendants argue such relief is warranted under both Rule 16(b) and Rule 60(b) because they have been prejudiced from being able to challenge the negligence claim against John Wells previously due to Plaintiffs' failure to submit a copy of the proposed Amended Complaint with their motion and because the claim was not raised at the time Defendants filed their first Motion for Summary Judgment. The Court views the record somewhat differently but agrees that Defendants should be allowed to challenge the claim in this Motion.

         In their first Motion for Summary Judgment, Defendants addressed, opposed, and sought to dismiss the entire Complaint. (Dkt. 18.) In particular, as relevant here, Defendants moved for dismissal of the claim against John Wells as a matter of law because there was “no negligence on his part whatsoever” and Idaho law precludes negligent supervision claims against a parent. (Dkt. 18 at 5-7.) Plaintiffs countered, asserting they had not alleged a negligent supervision claim against John Wells but, rather, “seek to hold John Wells liable in his individual capacity because he was racing with his son in a ‘Family Zone'/'Slow Skiing' area of the mountain, thereby encouraging and contributing to the negligent and reckless behavior that cause injury….” (Dkt. 20 at 6.) Plaintiffs also moved for leave to amend their Complaint to clarify the parties and claims. (Dkt. 19.) The Court agreed that Plaintiffs had not raised a negligent supervision claim and also granted Plaintiffs leave to amend their complaint to add a “negligence claim against John Wells in his individual capacity.” (Dkt. 23.)

         On October 4, 2018, Plaintiffs filed their Amended Complaint raising a negligence claim against John Wells alleging his own negligent and reckless actions contributed to and was a proximate cause of Plaintiffs' injuries. (Dkt. 24 at ¶¶ 21-26.) Defendants filed their Answer on October 24, 2018 but did not, at that time, seek the relief they now request to file a second dispositive motion challenging the negligence claim ...


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