Pennick v. Dehaven, CASE NO. 3:18-cv-05434-BHS-DWC

CourtUnited States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Western District of Washington)
Writing for the CourtDavid W. Christel United States Magistrate Judge
Docket NumberCASE NO. 3:18-cv-05434-BHS-DWC
PartiesCURLIN PENNICK III, Plaintiff, v. BARRY DEHAVEN, Defendant.
Decision Date07 March 2019


CASE NO. 3:18-cv-05434-BHS-DWC


March 7, 2019


The District Court has referred this action, filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, to United States Magistrate Judge David W. Christel. Currently pending before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion to Amend (Dkt. 43), Plaintiff's Motion to Reopen Discovery (Dkt. 45), Defendants' Second Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 50), and Plaintiff's Rule 56(d) Motion for Continuance, included within his Motion for Preliminary Injunction (Dkt. 57-1, pp. 8-10).1

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I. Motion to Amend

Plaintiff has filed a Motion to Amend, requesting leave to file an amended complaint to raise a retaliation claim stemming from alleged retaliation for filing the current § 1983 action and included a proposed amended complaint. Dkt. 43. He then submitted a revised amended complaint (Dkt. 62, pp. 7-15) and filed a "Praecipe to Attach Corrected Page 6" to the revised amended complaint (Dkt. 63-1).The Court will refer to the revised amended complaint and the "Corrected Page 6" collectively as the "Proposed Second Amended Complaint."

Because the Proposed Second Amended Complaint only adds additional factual allegations, and because Defendant has already filed opposition to Plaintiff's Motion to Amend (Dkt. 48), the Court finds additional briefing regarding the Proposed Second Amended Complaint is not necessary. The Court will therefore make a determination on Plaintiff's Motion to Amend (Dkt. 43) as to the Proposed Second Amended Complaint.

Pursuant to Rule 15(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure:

(1) Amending as a Matter of Course
A party may amend its pleading once as a matter of course within: (A) 21 days after serving it, or
(B) if the pleading is one to which a responsive pleading is required, 21 days after service of a responsive pleading or 21 days after service of a motion under Rule 12(b), (e), or (f), whichever is earlier.

(2) Other Amendments
In all other cases, a party may amend its pleading only with the opposing party's written consent or the court's leave. The court should freely give leave when justice so requires.

Because, here, the time has expired for filing an amendment as a matter of course, Plaintiff cannot amend pursuant to Rule 15(a)(1). See Dkt. 43. Further, Defendant opposes allowing Plaintiff to file a Proposed Second Amended Complaint. See Dkt. 48. Thus, to file the Proposed Second Amended Complaint, Plaintiff must have the Court's leave. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2).

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"Rule 15(a) is very liberal and leave to amend 'shall be freely given when justice so requires.'" AmerisourceBergen Corp. v. Dialysis West, Inc., 445 F.3d 1132, 1136 (9th Cir. 2006) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)). "In determining whether leave to amend is appropriate, the district court considers 'the presence of any of four factors: bad faith, undue delay, prejudice to the opposing party, and/or futility." Owens v. Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., 244 F.3d 708, 712 (9th Cir. 2001) (quoting Griggs v. Pace Am. Group, Inc., 170 F.3d 877, 880 (9th Cir. 1999).

Here, Plaintiff requests leave to amend his complaint to include allegations that Defendant is retaliating against him by having him transferred to another facility for filing this law suit and engaging in protected religious conduct. Dkt. 43. Defendant opposes Plaintiff's Motion to Amend because he argues amendment would be futile because Plaintiff cannot make the showing for a retaliation claim on the record before the Court. Dkt. 48, pp. 2-5. "Futility alone can justify the denial of a motion to amend." Johnson v. Buckley, 356 F.3d 1067, 1077 (9th Cir. 2004). However, the standard for determining whether an amendment would futile is not an examination of the record to determine whether Plaintiff can adequately support his factual allegations. Rather, an amendment is futile when "no set of facts can be proved under the amendment to the pleadings that would constitute a valid and sufficient claim or defense." Missouri ex rel. Koster v. Harris, 847 F.3d 646, 656 (9th Cir. 2017) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).

Here, Plaintiff alleges Defendant DeHaven contacted Department of Corrections headquarters "regarding [Plaintiff's] religious preference." Dkt. 62, p. 11 at ¶ 17. Subsequently, Non-Party Bohon "received information from headquarters which requests [Plaintiff's] transfer to Monroe Corrections Complex." Id. Plaintiff alleges Defendant DeHaven's contact with

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headquarters and his urging that Plaintiff be transferred was not based on some penological goal, but instead was in retaliation for "exercising a right to file civil rights complaint [sic]." Dkt. 62, p. 13, at ¶ 27. He argues "Defendant DeHaven has implemented a custom or policy of transferring inmates who complain of the deficiencies in their religious diets, and that the policy of transferring Plaintiff for his 'religious preference' is so deficient that the policy itself is repudiation of First Amendment rights [sic], and is the moving force of the constitutional violation." Id. at ¶ 32.

The Court finds, taking Plaintiff's pleadings as true, there is a set of facts that could be proved and show Plaintiff suffered a constitutional violation if he was transferred to a new facility based on retaliatory motive. See Schroeder v. McDonald, 55 F.3d 454, 460-61 (9th Cir. 1995) (explaining allegations that a prisoner was transferred because of a retaliatory motive constitutes a claim of unconstitutional retaliation). The Court "ordinarily do[es] not consider the validity of a proposed amended pleading in deciding whether to grant leave to amend, and instead defer[s] consideration of challenges to the merits of a proposed amendment until after leave to amend is granted and the amended pleadings are filed." In re Packaged Seafood Products Antitrust Litigation, 338 F. Supp. 3d 1079, 1106-07 (S.D. Cal. Sept. 5, 2018). Thus, taking Plaintiff's allegations as true, the Court finds Plaintiff's proposed amendment to add a retaliation...

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