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Ritchie v. State of Hawaii, Department of Public Safety

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

January 28, 2016

THE STATE OF HAWAI`I, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY; and NEAL WAGATSUMA, in his official capacity as Warden of the Kauai Community Correctional Center, Department of Public Safety, State of Hawai`i, and in his individual capacity, Defendants.


Leslie E. Kobayashi United States District Judge

Before the Court is a Notice of Appeal to District Court Judge from Magistrate Judge Kurren’s Order, Dated December 8, 2015 [Dkt. No. 132] Granting Plaintiff’s Motion for Leave to File Second Amended Complaint (“Appeal”) filed by Defendants State of Hawai`i, Department of Public Safety (“DPS”) and Neal Wagatsuma, in his individual capacity (“Wagatsuma, ” collectively “Defendants”), on December 14, 2015. [Dkt. no. 136.] Plaintiff Carolyn C. Ritchie (“Plaintiff”) filed her memorandum in opposition on December 28, 2015, and Defendants filed their reply on January 11, 2016. [Dkt. nos. 146, 155.]

The Court has considered the Appeal as a non-hearing matter pursuant to Rule 7.2(e) of the Local Rules of Practice of the United States District Court for the District of Hawai`i (“Local Rules”). After careful consideration of the Appeal, supporting and opposing memoranda, and the relevant legal authority, Defendants’ Appeal is HEREBY DENIED for the reasons set forth below.


The relevant factual and procedural background of this case is familiar to the parties, and the Court will only discuss the issues relevant to the Appeal. On August 28, 2015, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Leave to File Second Amended Complaint (“Motion”). [Dkt. no. 100.] At the hearing on the Motion on December 8, 2015, the magistrate judge orally granted the Motion, and he issued a written order (“Order”) on December 31, 2015. [Dkt. nos. 132, 151.] Plaintiff filed her Second Amended Complaint on January 4, 2016. [Dkt. no. 152.] Defendants bring the instant Appeal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636 and Local Rule 74.1.

Defendants argue that the Order is “erroneous and contrary to law” because it causes “undue delay and prejudice to Defendants.” [Mem. in Supp. of Appeal at 2 (footnote omitted).] Moreover, Defendants state that the additional claims in Plaintiff’s Second Amended Complaint are futile. Defendants assert that Plaintiff knew that she wanted to amend her complaint since September 2014. Although the deadline for filing a motion to amend the pleadings was August 28, 2015, [Second Amended Rule 16 Scheduling Order, filed 5/5/15 (dkt. no. 83), ] “[w]aiting until the last day of the non-dispositive motion deadline is inconsistent and contrary to the intent and spirit of the Rules of Civil Procedure, and the Ninth Circuit agrees with the sentiment.” [Mem. in Supp. of Appeal at 5-6.]

Alternatively, Defendants urge this Court to extend discovery, allow them to depose Plaintiff again (pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 30(a)(2)), and grant them additional pages and time for the Motion for Summary Judgment they filed on December 7, 2015. [Dkt. no. 128.]

Plaintiff argues that the magistrate judge “properly found Defendants had not demonstrated undue delay by Plaintiff, prejudice to Defendants or that amendment would be futile.” [Mem. in Opp. to Appeal at 10.]


This district court has stated:

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A), a district judge may designate a magistrate judge to hear and decide a pretrial matter pending before the court. The decision of the magistrate judge on non-dispositive matters is final. Bhan v. NME Hosp., Inc., 929 F.2d 1404, 1414 (9th Cir. 1991). However, a district judge may reconsider a magistrate’s order on these non-dispositive pretrial matters and set aside that order, or any portion thereof, if it is “clearly erroneous or contrary to law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a); 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A); LR 74.1; see Rivera v. NIBCO, Inc., 364 F.3d 1057, 1063 (9th Cir. 2004); see also Osband v. Woodford, 290 F.3d 1036, 1041 (9th Cir. 2002).
The threshold of the “clearly erroneous” test is high. See Boskoff v. Yano, 217 F.Supp.2d 1077, 1084 (D. Haw. 2001). The magistrate judge’s factual findings must be accepted unless the court is “left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed.” United States v. Silverman, 861 F.2d 571, 576-[77] (9th Cir. 1988). “The reviewing court may not simply substitute its judgment for that of the deciding court.” Grimes v. City & Cnty. of S.F., 951 F.2d 236, 241 (9th Cir. 1991).
“A decision is ‘contrary to law’ if it applies an incorrect legal standard or fails to consider an element of the applicable standard.” Na Pali Haweo Cmty. Ass’n v. Grande, 252 F.R.D. 672, 674 (D. Haw. 2008); see Hunt v. Nat’l Broadcasting Co., 872 F.2d 289, 292 (9th Cir. 1989) (noting that such failures constitute abuse of discretion).

Himmelfarb v. JP Morgan Chase Bank, Nat’l Ass’n, CV. No. 10-00058 DAE-KSC, 2011 WL 4498975, at *2 ...

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