Case No. 05cv996 BTM (BLM).
March 2, 2006
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS' MOTIONS (1) TO FILE A SUPPLEMENTAL COMPLAINT [Doc. #59] AND (2) TO VACATE JUDGMENT [Doc. #61]
In August 2000, Plaintiff Raduga USA Corp. ("Raduga") filed an 1-140 Immigration Petition for Alien worker on behalf of its president and sole shareholder, Plaintiff Nikolai Romanovskiy, and on behalf of Plaintiff Vladlena Yakoleva as Romanovskiy's dependent. In April 2001, following the approval of the 1-140 petition, the individual Plaintiffs applied for immigrant visas at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. On May 14, 2004, unable to obtain any decision on these applications, Plaintiffs brought an action seeking an order to compel the U.S. consulate in Moscow to adjudicate the visa applications of Romanovskiy and Yakovleva. By order dated May 23, 2005, the Court agreed with Plaintiffs and issued a writ of mandamus against the U.S. consular officials, ordering them to render a decision on the visa applications.
The Acting Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Border and Transportation Security, through the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Visa Services of the Department of State, rendered a decision on July 20, 2005. The individual Plaintiffs' applications were denied. Twice, on July 25 and July 28, the Court extended the deadline to enable the Defendants to review supplemental materials submitted by the Plaintiff. The Defendants were apparently not persuaded by these materials, and the denial stood. Plaintiffs have now brought the current motion for leave to supplement their complaint under Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(d). The Plaintiffs have also moved to set aside the judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b) if the Court grants their 15(d) motion. For the reasons discussed below, Plaintiffs' motions are GRANTED.
Plaintiffs' proposed supplemental complaint adds several defendants, including Randy Beardsworth, Acting Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Border and Transportation Security, and Christine Poulos, Director of the USCIS California Service Center. Proposed Supp. Compl., 12-13. While the original complaint sought a writ of mandamus compelling the original Defendants to render a decision on the visa applications, the proposed supplemental complaint asks the Court to set aside the unfavorable visa application decisions and order they be approved, or alternatively, be reviewed in good faith. Id. at 32-33. Plaintiffs contend that this further relief is necessary because the Defendants' ultimate decision to deny the visa applications was "facially illegitimate" and in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(d) provides:
Upon motion of a party the court may, upon reasonable notice and upon such terms as are just, permit the party to serve a supplemental pleading setting forth transactions or occurrences or events which have happened since the date of the pleading sought to be supplemented.
Leave to permit a supplemental pleading is favored, though it cannot be used to introduce a separate, distinct, and new cause of action. Planned Parenthood of S. Ariz. v. Neely, 130 F.3d 400, 402 (9th Cir. 1997) (per curiam) (internal citations and quotations omitted). Motions to amend pursuant to the rule should be granted absent undue delay, dilatory tactics, undue prejudice, or futility. Quaratino v. Tiffany Co., 71 F.3d 58, 66 (2d Cir. 1995). See also LaSalvia v. United Dairymen of Ariz., 804 F.2d 1113, 1119 (9th Cir. 1986) (15(d) motion should be granted unless "undue prejudice to opposing party will result"). The goal of Rule 15(d) is to promote judicial efficiency. Id.; Keith v. Volpe, 858 F.2d 467, 473 (9th Cir. 1988). Rule 15(d) enables "a court to award complete relief, or more nearly complete relief, in one action, and to avoid the cost, delay and waste of separate actions which must be separately tried and prosecuted." Keith, 858 F.2d at 473 (quoting New Amsterdam Casualty Co. v. Waller, 323 F.2d 20, 28-29 (4th Cir. 1963) cert. denied 376 U.S. 963 (1964).
Here, Plaintiffs' supplemental pleadings sets forth events that have occurred since the filing of the original complaint. However, the Court entered final judgment in its May 23, 2005 order. At least one court has held that this fact, absent certain exceptions, precludes the Court from granting the requested relief. See, e.g., Van Deelen v. Shawnee Mission Unified School Dist. #512, No. Civ. A. 03-2018-CM, 2004 WL 2278663 (D. Kan. June 16, 2004). Still, Plaintiffs have pointed to several cases in which courts have granted 15(d) motions following the entry of a final order in the original action.
One of these cases, Griffin v. County School Board, 377 U.S. 218 (1964), is particularly instructive. In Griffin, the original final judgment ordered the Virginia school system to take steps to end discrimination. Id. at 222. In permitting the supplemental complaint, the Supreme Court noted that its allegations detailed a "continued, persistent" effort to circumvent a prior ruling. Id. at 226. Here, similarly, the proposed supplemental complaint alleges that Defendants have not complied with this Court's order because their decision was not made in good faith, but was instead arbitrary and capricious. Mot. at 7. According to Plaintiffs, the decision to deny the visa was in bad faith and potentially a retaliation for the filing of the mandamus action. Id. Because Raduga's new complaint alleges a failure to comply in good faith with the Court's previous order, the grant of Plaintiffs' 15(d) motion is permissible.
Additionally, the Court notes the absence of undue prejudice to Defendants or dilatory tactics by Plaintiff. Most of the Defendants named in the amended complaint were named in the original complaint. One new party, Randy Beardsworth, made the decision to deny the visas, while the other new parties have become defendants due to the consulate decision to refer Raduga's petition to USCIS for revocation. Furthermore, Plaintiffs acted swiftly to assert their rights following the denial of the visa petitions. On August 4, 2005, they filed an ex parte application which requested either (1) an order requiring a good faith determination on the visa application or, alternatively, (2) leave to amend their pleadings. On August 22, 2005, the Court denied the ex parte application and instructed Plaintiffs to comply with the Federal Rules if they wished to file amended pleadings. On October 13, 2005, Plaintiffs filed the current motion, which was set for hearing on December 2, 2005. Thus, Plaintiffs did not cause any unreasonably delay in seeking to amend their pleadings. Because the complaint alleges that Defendants have not complied in good faith with the Court's mandamus order, and because the Court finds no undue delay or prejudice if the Plaintiffs' 15(d) motion is granted, the motion to file a supplemental complaint is GRANTED.
Plaintiffs have also requested the Court grant their motion to vacate judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b) because the Court entered final judgment when it issued the mandamus order. Rule 60(b) states that "on motion and upon such terms as are just, the court may relieve a party or a party's legal representative from a final judgment, order or proceeding for . . . (6) any other reason justifying relief from the operation of judgment." Unlike the cases previously cited, in which the respective courts retained jurisdiction after entry of a final order granting injunctive relief, the Court here did not retain jurisdiction.See Allen v. County Sch. Bd. of Prince Edward County, Va., 266 F.2d 507, 511 (4th Cir. 1959) (Griffin predecessor case which ordered district court to retain jurisdiction to enforce decree banning segregated schools); Keith, 858 F.2d at 474 (noting that the district court retained jurisdiction to ensure compliance with order). In order to exercise jurisdiction over the supplemental complaint in this matter, the Court will vacate its final judgment and orders that the case be reopened. The Court therefore GRANTS Plaintiffs' motion to vacate the judgment under Rule 60(b).
For the reasons discussed, Plaintiffs' motions [Doc. #'s 59 61] are GRANTED. The Court hereby orders that Plaintiffs file and serve its supplemental complaint on Defendants within 30 days of the date this order is stamped "FILED."
IT IS SO ORDERED.