United States District Court, D. Utah
CALVIN DONALD OSTLER, individually and as personal representative of the Estate of Lisa Marie Ostler, KIM OSTLER, and the minor children of Lisa Marie Ostler, C.K., E.L.K., and L.M.O., through their adoptive parents and next friends, CALVIN DONALD OSTLER and KIM OSTLER, Plaintiffs,
HOLLY PATRICE HARRIS, ZACHARY PAUL FREDERICKSON, TODD ALLAN BOOTH, TODD RANDALL WILCOX, M.D., RONALD PAUL SEEWER, JR., BRENT LEE TUCKER, JAMES M. WINDER, PAM LOFGREEN, RICHARD BELL, JOHN DOE, whose true name is unknown, and SALT LAKE COUNTY, a political subdivision of the State of Utah, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND
DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE A
SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT
BRUCE S. JENKINS UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.
the court is Plaintiffs Motion for Leave to File a Second
Amended Complaint (ECF No. 165). Defendants filed an
objection. After the Motion was fully briefed and oral
argument was heard on August 9, 2019, with Ross Anderson and
Walter Mason appearing for Plaintiff and Jacque Ramos
appearing for Defendants, the court took the matter under
advisement. Having considered the written and oral arguments
as well as the relevant law, the court hereby DENIES the
Motion to the extent it attempts to reinstate previously
dismissed plaintiffs and defendants. The court, however,
GRANTS leave for Plaintiff (the Estate) to file the proposed
amendments as they relate to its Monell claim
against Salt Lake County.
April 26, 2019, the court dismissed without prejudice certain
plaintiffs and defendants from this action. See Mem.
Op. Order, ECF No. 139. It affirmed that decision and
clarified its reasoning for doing so on June 7, 2019.
See Am. Mem. Op. Order, ECF No. 163. Through their
Motion and Proposed Second Amended Complaint, Plaintiff seeks
to reinstate (1) decedent Lisa Ostler's parents and
children (the Heirs) as plaintiffs, and (2) Chief Deputy Pam
Lofgreen and Responsible Health Authority Richard Bell (the
Supervisors) as defendants in their individual capacities.
Plaintiff asserts that the proposed amendments relating to
the Heirs and Supervisors clarify the claims and resolve
pleading deficiencies previously identified by the court.
.court "should freely give leave [to amend] when justice
so requires." Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). However, the court
may deny leave in its discretion if there is "undue
delay, undue prejudice to the opposing party, ... or futility
of amendment." Bylin v. Billings, 568 F.3d
1224, 1229 (10th Cir. 2009). Defendants raise these three
reasons for the court to deny leave to amend.
Tenth Circuit, when a court examines "undue delay,"
emphasis is on the adjective-undue. Minter v. Prime
Equip. Co., 451 F.3d 1196, 1205 (10th Cir. 2006). To
this end, courts focus "primarily on the reasons for
delay." Id. at 1206. Here, although Defendants
argue the Motion could have and should have been filed
sooner, Plaintiff counters that Defendants and their belated
disclosures are the reason for delay, so it is not undue.
court finds Plaintiffs Motion is timely as it was filed two
weeks after the court's amended order dismissing the
Heirs and one month after Plaintiff received Defendants'
belated disclosures. It is concerning that Defendants'
documents still trickle in, even on the morning of oral
argument when discovery had closed more than two months
prior. Defendants claim they have attempted full compliance
with discovery requests despite several setbacks, but it is
clear these best efforts have fallen short. For example,
Defendants acknowledged at oral argument that they have not
fully complied with the court's discovery order entered
nearly six months ago. See Order on Pis.' Mot.
Compel, ECF No. 77. Once Plaintiff received belated
disclosures, it acted quickly and accordingly to file this
Motion, without undue delay.
undue delay, courts examine whether any prejudice from
granting leave would be "undue" to the defendants,
meaning the amendments would "unfairly" affect
their ability to prepare a defense. Minter, 451 F.3d
at 1208. This occurs when a plaintiff raises "an
entirely new and different claim" or "significant
new factual issues." Id. Here, Defendants argue
Plaintiff raises a new claim and new factual issues that
cannot be addressed now that discovery is closed. Yet in
Plaintiffs view, there are no new claims or new factual
court finds Plaintiff raises a new claim as to the Heirs, but
it is not so new that Defendants were not on notice of it. As
well, Plaintiff added about forty-three pages of new factual
allegations as to the Supervisors, but this is not-or should
not be-new information to Defendants. The information was at
all times known to Defendants or could have been known
through reasonably diligent research into the claims against
them. Because Defendants have been on notice of the claims
and factual issues from the beginning, there is no undue
prejudice by amendment.
Futility of Amendment
amendment to a claim is futile if the claim would not survive
a motion to dismiss. See Bradley v. Val-Mejias, 379
F.3d 892, 901 (10th Cir. 2004). The court, therefore,
analyzes a motion to amend through a motion-to-dismiss lens:
It takes all "well-pleaded facts" as true but need
not consider "[t]hreadbare recitals of the
elements," "mere conclusory statements," and
"legal conclusion[s] couched as fact." Ashcroft
v. Igbal,556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009). Further, although
all reasonable inferences are drawn in the plaintiffs favor,
ultimately the proposed complaint must contain "enough