The National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry v. California State Grange et al.

Filing 154

ORDER signed by Senior Judge William B. Shubb on 8/4/2017 DENYING 136 Motion for Reconsideration. (Washington, S)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 ----oo0oo---11 12 NATIONAL GRANGE and CALIFORNIA STATE GRANGE, Civ. No. 2:16-0201 WBS DB 13 ORDER RE: MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION Plaintiffs, 14 v. 15 16 17 CALIFORNIA GUILD, formerly doing business as “California State Grange,” and ROBERT MCFARLAND, 18 Defendants. 19 ----oo0oo---- 20 21 On May 12, 2017, the court issued an order (“May 12 22 order”) denying plaintiffs National Grange and California State 23 Grange’s motion to disqualify the Ellis Law Group, counsel for 24 defendant Robert McFarland, from this case. 25 (Docket No. 135).) 26 that order. 27 28 (May 12, 2017 Order Plaintiffs now move for reconsideration of (Pls.’ Mot. (Docket No. 136).) Motions for reconsideration seek an “extraordinary remedy,” one “to be used sparingly in the interests of finality 1 1 and conservation of judicial resources.” 2 v. Estate of Bishop, 229 F.3d 877, 890 (9th Cir. 2000). 3 motions “should not be granted, absent highly unusual 4 circumstances, unless the district court is presented with newly 5 discovered evidence, committed clear error, or . . . there is an 6 intervening change in the controlling law.” 7 Partners v. Arnold, 179 F.3d 656, 665 (9th Cir. 1999). 8 moving for reconsideration “may not . . . raise arguments or 9 present evidence for the first time when [such arguments or Kona Enterprises, Inc. Such 389 Orange St. The party 10 evidence] could reasonably have been raised earlier in the 11 litigation.” 12 13 14 Kona Enterprises, 229 F.3d at 890. None of plaintiffs’ arguments persuade the court to change its May 12 order. First, plaintiffs argue that the court erroneously 15 applied the burden-shifting framework for vicarious 16 disqualification set forth in Kirk v. First Am. Title Ins. Co., 17 183 Cal. App. 4th 776 (2d Dist. 2010) by failing to “focus on the 18 procedures put in place by [the Ellis Law Group]” to screen 19 Valenti from working on this case and “requir[ing that 20 plaintiffs] demonstrate . . . Valenti has been actively 21 participating in [this] case.” 22 at 5 (Docket No. 136-1).) 23 content of the May 12 order, which discussed the Ellis Law 24 Group’s screening procedures on pages ten and eleven, expressly 25 cited such procedures in support of its holding on pages thirteen 26 and fourteen, and, at no point, “required [that plaintiffs] 27 demonstrate that Mr. Valenti has been actively participating in 28 [this] case,” as plaintiffs claim. (Pls.’ Mot., Mem. (“Pls.’ Mem.”) This argument plainly ignores the 2 The court’s application of 1 Kirk was not clearly erroneous. 2 Second, plaintiffs continue to dispute the efficacy of 3 the Ellis Law Group’s ethical wall. 4 credibility of two declarations submitted by McFarland at the 5 time their disqualification motion was argued, (see id. at 10-11 6 (discussing Valenti declaration); Pls.’ Reply at 4-5 (discussing 7 Mueller declaration) (Docket No. 146)); offer a new declaration 8 from a former Ellis Law Group secretary, Roxy Chipak, who 9 testifies that she was not made aware of the screening procedures They challenge the 10 imposed by the Ellis Law Group against Valenti, (see Pls.’ Mem. 11 at 9-10);1 and contend that the Ellis Law Group’s screening 12 procedures did not satisfy the “primary elements of an ethical 13 wall” discussed in Kirk, (see id. at 6-11; Pls.’ Reply at 3-6). 14 The Kirk elements cited by plaintiffs are merely factors for 15 consideration, not requirements. 16 810-11. 17 dispositive of the court’s disqualification analysis. 18 will not change its ruling based on this argument. See Kirk, 183 Cal. App. 4th at Neither of the declarations challenged by plaintiffs was The court 19 Third, plaintiffs argue that a California appellate 20 court’s affirmance of disqualification of the Ellis Law Group 21 from two related state cases constitutes an intervening change in 22 controlling law. 23 referenced by plaintiffs are materially distinguishable from this 24 case because there, Valenti switched sides during the same cases, 25 whereas here, he switched sides after representing the National (Pls.’ Mem. at 12.) The two state cases 26 27 28 1 Plaintiffs provide no explanation for why the Chipak declaration could not reasonably have been submitted at the time their disqualification motion was argued. 3 1 Grange in a related, but different case. 2 May 12 order that under California law, vicarious 3 disqualification is required where the conflicted attorney 4 switches sides during the same case, but is subject to a case-by- 5 case analysis where he switches sides after representing an 6 opposing party in a related, but different case. 7 2017 Order at 6-7.) 8 court’s rulings do not apply here. 9 This court noted in the (See May 12, Accordingly, the California appellate IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that plaintiffs’ Motion for 10 reconsideration of the May 12, 2017 order be, and the same hereby 11 is, DENIED. 12 Dated: August 4, 2017 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 4

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