United States District Court, D. Montana, Great Falls Division
ORDER ADOPTING MAGISTRATE
JUDGE'S FINDINGS AND
Morris, United States District Court Judge.
Laurence Stewart (“Stewart”), a prisoner
proceeding pro se, filed his Complaint on October 10, 2015.
(Doc. 2.) The Complaint alleges that Defendants violated
Stewart's First Amendment rights by disciplining him for
the contents of a grievance. (Doc. 2 at 5.)
States Magistrate Judge John Johnston issued a Scheduling
Order on May 19, 2017, setting a deadline of August 7, 2017,
for amendment of the pleadings. (Doc. 37 at 7.) Stewart
amended his complaint on July 10, 2017. (Doc. 44.)
Stewart's Amended Complaint sought to dismiss Chief of
Security Stewart (“Officer Stewart”) from this
action. (Doc. 44 at 1-2.)
filed the instant Motion to Amend his Complaint (Doc. 60) and
a Motion to Serve Amended Complaint and Direct Defendants to
Answer (Doc. 61) on November 16, 2017. Stewart's Second
Amended Complaint seeks to rename Officer Stewart, and to add
Warden Douglas Fender as a defendant. (Docs 60; 60-1 at 3.)
Stewart claims that he discovered the involvement of Officer
Stewart and Warden Fender through discovery. (Doc. 60.)
Johnston issued Findings and Recommendations in this matter
on December 18, 2017. (Doc. 63.) Judge Johnston recommended
that the Court deny Stewart's Motion to Amend and Motion
to Serve and Direct. (Doc. 63 at 5.)
Court reviews de novo findings and recommendations
to which objections are made. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C).
Portions of findings and recommendations to which no party
specifically objects are reviewed for clear error.
McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Commodore Bus. Mach.,
Inc., 656 F.2d 1309, 1313 (9th Cir. 1981). Where a
party's objections, however, constitute perfunctory
responses argued in an attempt to engage the district court
in a relitigation of the same arguments set forth in the
original response, the Court will review for clear error the
applicable portions of the findings and recommendations.
Rosling v. Kirkegard, 2014 WL 693315 *3 (D. Mont.
Feb. 21, 2014) (internal citations omitted).
filed an objection. (Doc. 75.) The document
“reiterates” claims contained in the Motion to
Amend (Doc. 60) and Plaintiff's Reply to Defendants'
Memorandum in Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion to Amend
(Doc. 60). (Doc. 75 at 1.) Judge Johnston considered these
arguments in making his recommendation to the Court. Thus,
the Court finds no specific objections that do not attempt to
rehash the same arguments, and will review the Findings and
Recommendations for clear error.
motion to amend is subject to Rule 15(a) of the Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure. Rule 15(a) instructs that a court
“should freely give leave [to amend] when justice so
requires.” F. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2). The Rule 15(a)
standard ceases to control once the court has filed a
pretrial scheduling order pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 16. Johnson v. Mammoth Recreations, Inc.,
975 F.2d 604, 607-608 (9th Cir. 1992). Rule 16 requires that
a party seeking leave to amend demonstrate “good
cause.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b).
good cause standard “primarily considers the diligence
of the party seeking amendment.” Johnson, 975
F.2d at 609. The moving party's reasons for seeking leave
are of paramount concern. Id. Prejudice to the
opposing party may provide secondary grounds for denial.
Id. A lack of prejudice to the opposing party cannot
establish good cause, however, absent a showing of diligence.
Johnston found that Stewart had failed to demonstrate good
cause because Stewart has failed to demonstrate diligence.
(Doc. 63 at 4.)
Johnston noted that Stewart's original complaint makes
reference to “Chief Stewart and Assistant Warden”
(now Warden Fender) indicating some awareness of their
involvement in these alleged events. The Court finds no clear
error in Judge Johnston's reasoning that Stewart's
Motion to Amend lacks the necessary details to demonstrate
diligence. (Doc. 63 at 4-5.)
Reply (Doc. 64) and Objections (Doc. 75) similarly focus on
whether Officer Stewart and Warden Fender would be prejudiced
by amendment. The Court further finds no clear error in Judge
Johnston's finding that granting Stewart leave to amend
would prejudice Officer Stewart and Warden Fender, as these
individuals were not afforded the ability to take part in
discovery, which is now closed. (Doc. 63 at 5.) Even if
amendment would ...