Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians et al v. Crosby et al

Filing 359

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER signed by District Judge Morrison C. England, Jr. on 1/24/2017 DENYING 300 Motion for Entry of Final Judgment. (Michel, G.)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 12 PASKENTA BAND OF NOMLAKI INDIANS; and PASKENTA ENTERPRISES CORPORATION, 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 Plaintiffs, No. 2:15-cv-00538-MCE-CMK MEMORANDUM AND ORDER v. INES CROSBY; JOHN CROSBY; LESLIE LOHSE; LARRY LOHSE; TED PATA; JUAN PATA; CHRIS PATA; SHERRY MYERS; FRANK JAMES; UMPQUA BANK; UMPQUA HOLDINGS CORPORATION; CORNERSTONE COMMUNITY BANK; CORNERSTONE COMMUNITY BANCORP; JEFFERY FINCK; GARTH MOORE; GARTH MOORE INSURANCE AND FINANCIAL SERVICES, INC.; ASSOCIATED PENSION CONSULTANTS, INC.; THE PATRIOT GOLD & SILVER EXCHANGE, INC.; GDK CONSULTING LLC; and GREG KESNER, Defendants. 25 26 Defendants Garth Moore and Garth Moore Insurance (collectively, “Moore”) 27 previously moved under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (“Rule”) 12(c) to dismiss the 28 claims made against them. ECF No. 275. This Court granted the motion, dismissing the 1 1 claims with prejudice. ECF No. 299. Moore now moves for the entry of final judgment 2 under Rule 54(b) on the order dismissing the claims. ECF No. 300. For the reasons that 3 follow, Moore’s Motion for Judgment is DENIED.1 4 BACKGROUND2 5 6 7 The Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians (“the Tribe”) employed Ines Crosby, John 8 Crosby, Leslie Lohse, and Larry Lohse (collectively, the “Employee Defendants”) in 9 executive positions for more than a decade. Plaintiffs contend that the Employee 10 Defendants used their positions to embezzle millions of dollars from the Tribe and its 11 principal business entity, the Paskenta Enterprises Corporation (“PEC”). As part of their 12 scheme, Plaintiffs allege that the Employee Defendants caused the Tribe to invest in two 13 unauthorized retirement plans for the Employee Defendants’ personal benefit: a defined 14 benefit plan and a 401(k) (collectively, “Tribal Retirement Plans”). The Employee 15 Defendants allegedly kept their activities hidden from Plaintiffs by various means 16 including harassment, intimidation, and cyber-attacks on the Tribe’s computers. 17 Plaintiffs go on to assert that Moore, among others, knowingly assisted the 18 Employee Defendants in aspects of their scheme. According to Plaintiffs, Moore, as the 19 Tribe’s financial advisor, assisted the Employee Defendants in setting up and 20 administering the unauthorized Tribal Retirement Plans. 21 After filing an answer, Moore moved to dismiss the third-party claims against it 22 under Rule 12(c), and on October 19, 2016, the Court granted the motion. The claims 23 against Moore were dismissed with prejudice. Moore now seeks entry of final judgment 24 on that order, pursuant to Rule 54(b). 25 /// 26 27 1 Because oral argument would not have been of material assistance, the Court ordered this matter submitted on the briefs in accordance with Local Rule 230(g). 2 28 Unless otherwise noted, the allegations in this section are drawn directly from the allegations of Plaintiffs’ Complaint. 2 1 LEGAL STANDARD 2 3 Rule 54(b) allows courts to “direct entry of a final judgment as to one or more, but 4 fewer than all, claims or parties only if the court expressly determines that there is no just 5 reason for delay.” The original purpose of Rule 54(b) was, given the modern practice of 6 joining multiple parties and claims into a single action, to reduce uncertainty as to what 7 constituted a final judgment that was ripe for appeal. Dickinson v. Petroleum Conversion 8 Corp., 338 U.S. 507, 511–12 (1950); see also Gelboim v. Bank of Am. Corp., 135 S. Ct. 9 897, 902 (2015) (“Rule 54(b) permits district courts to authorize immediate appeal of 10 dispositive rulings on separate claims in a civil action raising multiple claims . . . .”). 11 In determining whether to direct entry of a final judgment under Rule 54(b), courts 12 must consider (1) whether it has rendered a “final judgment,” and then (2) “whether there 13 is any just reason for delay.” Wood v. GCC Bend, LLC, 422 F.3d 873, 878 (9th Cir. 14 2005) (quoting Curtiss-Wright Corp. v. Gen. Elec. Co., 446 U.S. 1, 7 (1980)). While 15 “[t]he Court has eschewed setting narrow guidelines for district courts to follow,” id. at 16 878 n.2, its “discretion is to be exercised ‘in the interest of sound judicial administration,’” 17 Curtiss-Wright, 446 U.S. at 8 (quoting Sears, Roebuck & Co. v. Mackey, 351 U.S. 427, 18 437 (1956)). 19 20 ANALYSIS 21 22 There is no doubt that the dismissal of the claims against Moore constitutes a final 23 judgment. By dismissing the claims against Moore, this Court’s order was “an ultimate 24 disposition of an individual claim entered in the course of a multiple claims litigation.” 25 Wood, 422 F.3d at 878 (quoting Curtiss-Wright, 466 U.S. at 7). The Court dismissed all 26 claims against Moore with prejudice after the close of the pleadings. The analysis does 27 not end there, however, as Rule 54(b) also requires the Court to make an express 28 /// 3 1 finding that there is no “just reason for delay” in actually entering a judgment as to less 2 than all claims. 3 Moore here does not move for entry of final judgment so that it can file an 4 appeal—its motion to dismiss was successful—but instead so that it will not “be required 5 to expend more time and resources in monitoring the activity of this case, and of 6 potentially preventing any party from circumventing the Court’s Order.” Defs.’ Mot. for J. 7 at 3. 8 9 While Moore’s motion would not serve the original purposes of Rule 54(b), the Ninth Circuit has not precluded such considerations from being considered by a district 10 court when ruling on a Rule 54(b) motion. See Continental Airlines, Inc. v. Goodyear Tire 11 & Rubber Co., 819 F.2d 1519, 1525 (9th Cir. 1987); cf. Bank of Lincolnwood v. Fed. 12 Leasing, Inc., 622 F.2d 944, 949 n.7 (7th Cir. 1980) (“The requirement that there be ‘no 13 just reason for delay’ is frequently referred to as a requirement that there be no just 14 reason to delay an appeal. This, however, is too narrow a reading of the Rule.”). 15 Moore, however, has not made clear why there would be any costs incurred 16 absent an entry of judgment under Rule 54(b). Furthermore, granting the 54(b) motion 17 would likely work to undermine “the historic federal policy against piecemeal appeals.” 18 Wood, 422 F.3d at 878 (quoting Curtiss-Wright, 466 U.S. at 7). If the Court were to grant 19 Moore’s motion, Plaintiffs would be obligated to seek an appeal immediately or else 20 forfeit the right to an appeal. An immediate appeal, though, would likely be 21 inappropriate. Plaintiffs have alleged many parallel claims against various defendants 22 and they should be analyzed on appeal as a single unit. See Jewel v. Nat’l Sec. 23 Agency, 810 F.3d 622, 625 (9th Cir. 2015) (finding that a Rule 54(b) motion should be 24 analyzed with regard to “the interrelationship of the claims so as to prevent piecemeal 25 appeals in cases which should be reviewed only as single units” (quoting Curtiss-Wright, 26 466 U.S. at 10)). 27 /// 28 /// 4 1 CONCLUSION 2 3 4 5 6 For the reasons above, Moore’s Motion for Judgment under Rule 54(b) is DENIED. IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: January 24, 2017 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 5

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