REZAC LIVESTOCK COMMISSION CO., INC., Plaintiff, v. PINNACLE BANK, et al., Defendants. Additional Party Names: Dinsdale Bros., No. 15-4958-DDC-KGS, 2019 WL 2613179 (D. Kan. June 26, 2019)
This case originated from a substantial cattle transaction gone wrong. In simplest terms, plaintiff sold a million dollars’ worth of cattleto an individual who didn’t make good on his promise to pay. When plaintiff learned that the buyer’s check wouldn’t clear, it was too late to recover the cattle. So, plaintiff was out the cattle and didn’t receive the payment it was promised. Sensing that it was unlikely to recover against the defaulting cattle buyer, plaintiff has sued two defendants. The first is Pinnacle Bank, the bank of the defaulting cattlebuyer. The second defendant is Dinsdale Bros., Inc., the company who purchased the cattle from the individual who defaulted on his promise to pay plaintiff.
After spirited discovery and motion practice, all three parties moved for summary judgment. In a Memorandum and Order entered late last year, the court decided all three motions. See Doc. 125 (entered December 21, 2018). The court denied plaintiff’s summary judgment motion in its entirety. Defendant Pinnacle’s motion met the same fate. The ultimate purchaser of the cattle—Dinsdale—fared slightly better. The court granted Dinsdale’s summary judgment motion against plaintiff’s claim for breach of contract, but denied the rest of the motion. Altogether, these rulings meant that plaintiff’s claims for conversion, civil conspiracy, and unjust enrichment against both defendants would proceed to trial. Plaintiff’s claim against Pinnacle for unjust enrichment also survived for trial.
Fourteen days after the summary judgment Order issued, Pinnacle Bank filed a Motion to Reconsider. This motion asked the court to reconsider its summary judgment ruling on the conversion claim against the bank. Plaintiff responded. Concluding that Pinnacle’s reconsideration motion raised substantial legal questions, the court invited the parties to present oral argument. On February 1, 2019, counsel thoughtfully argued the difficult issues that inhere in the conversion claims. Pinnacle’s arguments persuaded the court that it was a mistake to begin the trial with such substantial legal questions remaining unresolved.
JL FARMS, Plaintiff, v. THOMAS JAMES VILSACK, Sec’y, The United States Dep’t of Agriculture; STEVEN C. SILVERMAN, Dir., Nat’l Appeals Division; & BRANDON WILLIS, Adm’r of the Risk Mgmt. Agency & Manager of the Fed. Crop Ins. Corp., Defendants., No. 2:16-CV-02548-CM-GEB, 2019 WL 2613101 (D. Kan. June 26, 2019)
Persons affected by an adverse decision of an agency within the USDA may appeal that decision to the NAD for a determination by a Hearing Officer. 7 U.S.C. §§ 6996–6997 (2012). That determination may then be appealed to the NAD Director for a final determination. Id. § 6998. A final determination by the NAD Director is reviewable and enforceable by any district court, in accordance with Chapter 7 of Title 5 of the United States Code. Id. § 6999; 7 C.F.R. § 11.13 (2019). Under 5 U.S.C. § 706, “the reviewing court shall decide all relevant questions of law, interpret constitutional and statutory provisions, and determine the meaning or applicability of the terms of an agencyaction.” Id. (2012). The reviewing court is further directed to “compel agency action unlawfully withheld or unreasonably delayed,” and “hold unlawful and set aside agency action, findings, and conclusions” in multiple circumstances, including where contrary to law or “short of statutory right[.]”
Plaintiff JL Farms is a wheat producer whose farm is in the District of Kansas. Defendants collectively oversee the regulation and administrative process for crop insurance policies issued pursuant to the Federal Crop Insurance Act (“FCIA”). Plaintiff sought a cropinsurance policy. Under the FCIA, these policies are offered through a private approved insurance provider (“AIP”) and reinsured and regulated by the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation, which is operated and managed by the Risk Management Agency (“RMA”). Plaintiff sought a policy whose terms were governed by the producer’s actual production history (“APH”), which is calculated from a database of that producer’s year-to-year crop yields. Catastrophic droughts and other factors can result in abnormally low yields in a single year, substantially impacting a producer’s APH and the amount of its APH-dependent insurance coverage. To resolve these abnormalities, the 2014 Farm Bill amended the FCIA to permit an elective exclusion (the “APH Exclusion”). The APH Exclusion allows a producer’s abnormally low yields to be removed from the APH calculation. The use of the APH Exclusion thus serves to protect producers from significant reduction in their crop insurance coverage.
Plaintiff, believing that it would qualify for the APH Exclusion, notified its AIP that it was electing to exclude eligible crops from its APH calculation. Following requests by similarly-situated producers, RMA issued a guidance memorandum (the “Determination”), which did not authorize the APH Exclusion for winter wheat in the 2015 crop year, and further instructed AIPs to decline producers’ elections as to winter wheat. This guidance acted as a mandatory directive which resulted in plaintiff being denied the APH Exclusion. Plaintiff appealed to the NAD of the USDA, where the Hearing Officer found the NAD did not have jurisdiction over the appeal. Plaintiff then requested review of the Hearing Officer’s determination by the NAD Director, where the Director determined the NAD did have jurisdiction, but that RMA had discretion as to the implementation of the APH Exclusion, effectively maintaining the denial to plaintiff. Plaintiff now asks this court for judicial review of RMA’s Determination and the NAD Director’s determination.
BW ORCHARDS, LLC, C&D, FUEHRING FARMS, INC., GOLDEN HART FRUIT FARMS, LLC, GREEN VENTURES, LLC, HERRYGERS FARMS, LLC, JAMES JENSEN d/b/a JENSEN FARMS, LAKESHORE FARMS, INC., LK VANSICKLE FARMS, LLC, MALBURG ACRES, LLC, RANDY A. FEDO d/b/a RAN-MARK CO., PAUL OOMEN d/b/a PAUL OOMEN & SONS, SLOCUM FARMS, LLC, VILLADSEN TREE FARMS, INC., & PRODUCE PAY, INC., Plaintiffs, v. SPIECH FARMS GEORGIA, LLC, & TIMOTHY M. SPIECH, BRADLEY A. SPIECH, ROBIN L. SPIECH, STEVEN M. SPIECH, & EVA M. STONE, individually, Defendants., No. 2:19-CV-00007, 2019 WL 2635541 (S.D. Ga. June 26, 2019)
This case involves Plaintiffs’ BW Orchards, LLC, Fuehring Farms, Inc., Golden Hart Fruit Farms, LLC, Green Ventures, LLC, Herrygers Farms, LLC, James Jensen d/b/a Jensen Farms, Lakeshore Farms, Inc., LK Vansickle Farms, LLC, Malburg Acres, LCC, Randy A. Fedo d/b/a Ran-Mark Co., Paul Oomen d/b/a Paul Oomen & Sons, Slocum Farms, LLC, Villadsen Tree Farms, Inc., (collectively “Growers”) and Produce Pay, Inc. (“Produce Pay”) (all together “Plaintiffs”) claims against Defendants Spiech Farms Georgia, LLC (“Spiech Georgia”), Timothy M. Spiech, Bradley A. Spiech, Robin L. Spiech, Steven M. Spiech, and Eva M. Stone stemming from Defendants’ alleged failure to pay under agreements to sell or buy produce. Specifically, Plaintiffs allege in their First Amended Complaint (hereinafter “the Complaint”), , that Growers had entered into various agreements with non-party Spiech Farms, LLC (“Spiech Michigan”)—a Michigan Limited Liability Company with its principal place of business in Paw Paw, Michigan—under which Spiech Michigan would purchase produce, namely asparagus, from Growers. Additionally, Plaintiffs allege that Produce Pay entered into a “Distribution Agreement,” under which Spiech Michigan agreed to sell and Produce Pay agreed to purchase certain produce, specifically grapes and blueberries, for the express purpose of Spiech Michigan selling such Produce to purchasers on commission on behalf of Produce Pay. At all relevant times, Spiech Michigan was the parent company of Spiech Georgia, and Timothy, Bradley, Robin, and Steven Spiech, as well as Eva Stone, were members of both Spiech Michigan and Spiech Georgia. . Spiech Georgia is a Georgia limited liability company with its principal place of business in Baxley and Brunswick, Georgia, where it grew certain produce, specifically blueberries.
WILD FISH CONSERVANCY, Plaintiff, v. COOKE AQUACULTURE PACIFIC, LLC, Defendant., No. C17-1708-JCC, 2019 WL 2616640 (W.D. Wash. June 26, 2019)
This lawsuit arises out of the 2017 collapse of one of Defendant Cooke Aquaculture Pacific LLC’s Atlantic salmon net-pen facilities (“Cypress 2”) in Deepwater Bay off of Cypress Island, Washington. (See Dkt. No. 1 at 9–10.) The Clean Water Act (“CWA”) prohibits discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States, except pursuant to a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (“NPDES”) permit. 33 U.S.C. § 1342. As provided by the CWA, authorized state agencies may issue NPDES permits and enforce permit requirements. See 33 § U.S.C. 1342(b). In Washington, the Department of Ecology (“Ecology”) performs the functions necessary to “meet the requirements” of the CWA, including issuing NPDES permits. Wash. Rev. Code. § 90.48.260.
This matter is before the court on plaintiffs’ request for reconsideration of the assigned magistrate judge’s order granting in part and denying in part plaintiffs’ motion for a protective order. (Doc. No. 210.) The magistrate judge’s order was issued on March 5, 2019. Plaintiffs filed the pending motion for reconsideration on March 19, 2019. Defendants filed an opposition on March 26, 2019. On April 17, 2019, the court set the motion for hearing and permitted plaintiffs to file a reply. Plaintiffs filed a reply on April 25, 2019.